Despite the hue and brandishing of social media as the next biggest thing ever to happen to social interaction, emails still remain the most personable, potent and transactional platform for most business professionals. Remember how uncomfortable you felt when discussing important issues on Facebook? Your personal and business emails, banking alerts, contact list… it is not surprising when we push the panic button when our emails get hacked. Time and again, more and more people are falling victims and some emails sent to my inbox in the last few months requesting I address this attest to this trend. Permit me to share Jide’s story with you.
After an exhilarating post wedding reception, Jide and his wife bolted out of town for their honeymoon. As if planned, emails started flying to friends and family and I got mine. In the email, ‘Jide’ was out of the country and needed me to help him repay a loan which he promised to repay when he returned. Knowing Jide was not out of the country, I quickly placed a call to him to alert him that his email has been hijacked. Okiki was however cheekier when it happened to him, he sent an email to ‘his’ email asking the hijacker to reconsider and give him back the control of his email in exchange for anything. The scammer, who was in Port Harcourt fell for it, he sent him an account number to pay the ransom money into and viola, a simple check revealed his real name, address and Facebook details. He only needed to be confronted with these details before he quickly released the passwords. However, not everyone is that lucky.
Sometimes, it’s our fault. This happens when poor passwords are used. Commonly chosen passwords like ‘4321’, ‘I love you’, or even your name are usually adviced against. Most other times you clicked on those links that told you to check out videos of the recovered aircraft, someone twerking or weight-loss supplements. Some other time, you got lured into clicking links to those fake apps and free ipad contests. What you didn’t know was that while you were clicking on those links, you were also giving out your emails and passwords to others who spoofed you. At some other times, it was fake bank emails requesting your submit your details. Some others have willingly submitted their bank account PINs and numbers to fake websites only to be scammed later. For the records, banks will never request your pin and token, scammers will. Why? They need the them access to your accounts. This example of two factor authentication system is now being used to secure websites in addition to passwords.
Two-factor authentication system is the new trend in securing and protecting your emails and passwords on most email platforms and social networking sites. Two-factor authentication according to Google’s spam guru Matt Cutts, is an authentication system that requires that you to use both “something you know” (like a password) and “something you have” (like your phone number, code or token) in order to confirm ownership of an online account. Most banks already use this system and has reduced online banking fraud by over 80%. However if someone gets your password, they can have unhindered access to contents of your email and social media accounts without any fuss. As a result of recent widespread hacking attempts and even at a global scale like that of Heartbleed bug, the need to apply 2 factor authentication system to your Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, Microsoft Live, LinkedIn and WordPress cannot be overemphasized. Most of these platforms now permit you to secure your account usung this system.
Should your email password (what you know) gets hacked, the corresponding online platform will depend on what you have (phone number, code or token) to determine the ownership of the email or social media account. While you can still take these several precautions to minimize the risk of having your email hacked, nothing is still impossible, there is still likelihood that you will always be targeted and baited for an attack on your email.
Because the proof of ownership is an issue of name and passwords, you’d be lucky to get it back if it gets hacked. If you have two factor authentication system in place already, no problems. All you need do is to report and request for a password reset and it will send a code to your phone. Once you confirm the code, you get your account back. If you do not have it in place, recovery of your account depends on the kind of hack you have been dealt with and if you are able to convince the online account that you are the original owner. The resolution to this problems range simply logging in and changing your password to visiting the help and support center of the online platform to resolve the issue.
If you are able to log in, you need to quickly change your password and to contact everyone about the security breach if your account has been used to send spam email. Another thing to do is to use separate email addresses for your emails and online newsletters e.t.c. If you cannot log in, you will need to contact the help and support desk online. Depending on the email or social networking platform, each has its own method for determining that you are who you say you as against the person who hacked – – or someone using recovery method to hack an account. You may be required to confirm your preset-security questions, details about your location, messages, or if you were smart enough to have included an alternative address.
Securing your communication and social interaction channels has never been more important. As hackers continue to device new ways and methods to decieve people online and to make economically viable information available, it is important for daily users to be aware of the best practices and the latest ways to secure and protect their online identities and comunication channels.