by Andreea-Luciana Ostache
February 9, 2012
More and more users are having their Hotmail and MSN e-mail accounts hacked. What's in it for hackers? Well, snooping into users' private data and exploiting it in their criminal attempts (examples: identity theft, spamming, pump & dump schemes, 419 scams etc.).
Even my father has had his account hacked, so I thought now would be a good time to post a few helpful tips on how to properly protect your inbox.
1. How does a "hacker" find an e-mail address?
From any site you have used your e-mail on: social sites, gaming sites, forums, and anywhere else you are required to register with your e-mail address.
2. There is no such thing as a 100% "safe" database.
All databases have security measures in place, but we have learned that even big companies such as Sony and NASA have had trouble with hacking in the past.
3. Why did my antivirus software not protect me from this?
It can’t. Simply because the e-mail user database is web based, and stored externally on a server that your antivirus does not have access to. Your antivirus can protect your computer from the threats that are on the internet and, depending on the antivirus you have, it may also protect your local network.
4. How did the hacker find out my password or security question?
Chances are that you have used them before on another site, which got hacked. It could also be that the person who hacks your account is someone you know, or that you have left your details accessible without being aware of it.
Microsoft has put together these recommendations for what to do, in case your Hotmail or MSN e-mail account gets hacked: explore.live.com/windows-live-hotmail-hacked-account-faq
And Microsoft is taking serious steps in order to prevent hacking, including creating a special function for reporting hacked accounts. When an account is reported stolen, it will be monitored in order to find and stop the culprit. You can read the full article and more about how to use this function, here: windowsteamblog.com/windows_live/b/windowslive/archive/2011/07/14/hey-my-friend-s-account-was-hacked.aspx
Google also has a really nice feature for preventing account hacking. They keep track of the IP's you login from and your geographic location and signal any other access to the account. Also, users can designate a mobile phone, landline or mobile application to receive a unique one-time login code. You must enter this code, in order to login to your account.
Yahoo also has a lot of security and spam/scam reporting features:
- You can create a sign-in-seal for all your computers https://protect.login.yahoo.com/login/set_pref. This will display a secret message or image and a background colour for your login window, that you should always see on your computer, if you are on a valid Yahoo Sign-in page.
- You can report any message or Yahoo contact as spam and even block them. This is very handy, since more and more Yahoo accounts are being created for the specific purpose of spam/scam.
To sum things up, there are significant steps being taken in order to keep user accounts safe, by all major IT companies. It is important, though, that users also take the few necessary steps in order to protect themselves.
Have you had your e-mail accounts hacked? Tell me what happened!
Posted by Andreea Luciana Ostache