Is Your Data Safe in Your Email?

We’ve all experienced bizarre emails in our inbox and correspondences that seemed suspicious even before opening them, so we know that our email accounts aren’t the most private or secure. Yet, we still use them daily for private matters. The threat of an information breach in your inbox is there whether you’re an individual or a business, though businesses face much larger risks. Individuals may experience the theft of their banking information, their photos, their tax documents, and other confidential information that could compromise their identity. Businesses, however, can not only experience similar theft, but also theft of the information of those they serve, like patients, clients, customers, etc. This makes the risk far greater, given the responsibility businesses have to keep this sensitive data safe.

This begs the question, how extreme is the risk of using our email accounts for storing and sharing confidential information? What can we do to be safer, and what measures should we take if we’ve already been compromised? We at A Shred Ahead consider ourselves to be in the business of keeping others and their data safe, so read on for some of our insight and tips for upping your digital data security when it comes to your inbox.

How Phishing Schemes Work

Out of all the spam and potentially hazard emails you receive unwanted in your inbox, one of the biggest dangers to look out for is called a phishing scheme. This is one threat businesses in particular really need to be on a vigilant lookout for and take every precaution. In this case, a potential hacker will send you what appears to be a normal, legitimate email. Why you? It’s likely you wound up on his or her list because the person hacked into someone else’s email account to get to you, or he or she was able to make an email address look very real. Regardless of how he ended up there, his intention of contacting you is to get inside access to your company and maybe even your money.

In a phishing scheme, the hacker’s email will likely include an embedded link for you to click on. This is where he’ll get you. If you click that link, it enables the hacker to download malware onto your system, giving him easy access to your user IDs, passwords, records, customer information, financial information, and data files. Sound scary? It is, and it’s highly effective, which is why it happens every day. It doesn’t stop there, though. This schemes often lead to ransomware attacks and more email compromise scams, and they don’t just happen to the people at the top of your employee’s ladder. These attacks can target every single person in your account, whatever it takes to get in the door.

About Ransomware

Ransomware, mentioned above, is a type of malicious software typically carried out through the use of a Trojan. The consequence for falling victim to ransomware is often being blocked from accessing your own information or be threatened with having your confidential information deleted or made public until a “ransom” of some sort is collected. These attacks range in severity, but it can get pretty bad, like in the case of cryptoviral extortion. Cryptoviral extortion encrypts a victim’s files so they’re completely inaccessible without a decryption key, and it’s very difficult to trace the hacker who has this key. This is highly problematic for individuals, but it can ruin businesses, making it all the more important to be extremely careful when opening emails and absolutely critical to exercise extreme caution when clicking email links.

What to Do If Your Email Is Compromised

If you’ve stumbled upon this article because you’ve already found yourself to be the victim of an email attack, there are several steps you need to take to get back on track.

  1. Change your password, and make it strong. This will help keep your hacker from getting back into your account. If the hacker already changed your password and you’re locked out, reclaim your account by following the “Forgot My Password” direction and answer your security questions.
  2. Set up further authentication. Your account settings can be changed to require an additional form of authentication as opposed to just your password. This will increase security.
  3. Scan your settings. Hackers often change your account settings to lock you out or to use you to attack others, so look through your settings to see if anything has been changed or added.
  4. Run a full computer scan on every computer you’ve logged into your account on to check for malware. If you find malware, correct the issue, and then change your password again.
  5. Look into what else was compromised. Did you store other login information in your emails? Do you use the same login info on other accounts as you do your email? Make a list of what information you think has been stolen so you can correct them one by one. If you use the same password for other accounts, change that as well, as hackers are smart enough to know to try all your accounts once they figure out one password.
  6. Talk to your contacts. They’ve likely received some strange stuff from you, even spam. Let them know you’ve been hacked and urge them not to click any links, as well as to take steps to protect themselves from being hacked.
  7. Be smart going forward. Now that you know how easy it is to be hacked, make sure you not only take the steps to clean up your current mess, but make sure to think ahead and make decisions that protect you and your data moving forward to you’re less likely to end up with another one down the road.

How Hard Drive Shredding Protects Your Data

Another way digital hackers get your personal information is through theft of your hard drive. Improper disposal of these means fraudsters don’t have to do much to reach your information because you’re practically giving it to them. By leaving an old or unused hard drive lying around in an unmonitored storage unit, donating it, or throwing it away, you’re leaving a large amount of sensitive data vulnerable to theft if the wrong person with the right knowhow gets ahold of it. Merely deleting files off your computer before getting rid of it doesn’t undo what’s been saved on a deeper level. The only true way to stay protected is through reliable hard drive shredding.

A Shred Ahead’s trusted hard drive destruction services ensure that all your data is completely destroyed for good with no chance of any bit being left behind to steal. We have the experience and advanced equipment to full shred and destroy computer hard drives, thumb drives, CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, SD cards, and more. We’re a true partner in your security, helping individuals and businesses all over the southeast keep their information and the information they’re responsible for safe and private.

Call us today to find out more about how to keep yourself safe when it comes to digital accounts and devices, and be sure to ask how we can help increase your security with professional hard drive destruction!

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