The email It has been an essential communication tool for millions of people for decades now. Although social networks and mobile messaging applications are increasingly popular, this is still one of the main tools to communicate on a personal and, above all, professional level. It is estimated that there are currently 4.1 billion email users worldwide, which translates to more than 306 billion emails sent and received daily in the last year alone.
With the increasing use of that tool, cybersecurity risks are also on the rise since the email can be a point of the cybercriminals to the information of the victim.
“By hijacking our accounts, cybercriminals can monetize attacks in a variety of ways to line their pockets. For the victim, it can be a stressful and disconcerting experience,” says Josep Albors, director of research and awareness at cybersecurity company ESET.
the attackers can use various means to obtain access data to an account. They could send a ‘phishing’ email directly, tricking the victim into believing it’s from a legitimate source – including your email provider – and asking you to log in again.
Furthermore, cybercriminals could also guess or crack your email password using automated software. This way, they could try multiple keys until their system gets the right one and they can break into the account. To avoid this, the best thing the user can do is to create a strong and intelligible password that is difficult to crack. That is, no combinations of type 12345 and the like.
In addition, cybercriminals can also steal your email and login combination from a company you have signed up with in the past. Although the password is encrypted, sometimes the algorithm can be cracked. There is also to be careful with public WiFi and downloading documents from messages sent by unknown users; as they can hide malicious code.
How to know if you have been ‘hacked’
There are five things to pay attention to if you think your email account may have been hacked. First of all, to the emails in your inbox and sending box that you don’t recognize.
Evidently, a recent password change that you have not done, and that does not allow you to enter your mail, is a symptom of ‘hacking’. To avoid this, beyond being careful with what is downloaded to the computer, and having a strong password, it is important that the user does not leave their devices with the mail open within the reach of anyone.
If, in addition, he begins to receive password change request alerts of mail through other websites or applications, there is no doubt that the criminal on duty may have gained control of the account. From there, it may be trying to access other online services used by the victim, such as social networks.
Another warning sign are messages from friends, colleagues, and family asking you to please stop messaging them without feet or head. It should be remembered that when a cybercriminal manages to compromise an email account, it is common for them to start launching targeted attacks against their contacts.
Finally, if you receive notifications from your provider about multiple logins from IPs and unknown locations, it is likely that you have been ‘hacked’ or, at least, are trying to. The best thing to do in that case is to proceed to change the password just in case.
Tools that help you get out of doubts
If you want to check it out even more to find out, try tools like HaveIBeenPwned.com, which has a large database of compromised email and mobile phone accounts that you can check against.
In addition, Google, for example, allows you to review recent activity on your account or perform a ‘Security Check’, which includes recent activity such as new logins. Other major email providers offer similar options, as well as a step-by-step guide to recovering a compromised account (Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook.com).