No no, this is not a click-bait type of article. This scenario could actually play out in a very real way. Consider the fact that many of us typically have a primary email address that most (if not all) of our online accounts are attached to. Now combine that with the common method that many web providers use to allow a user to reset their password; via email. If at any moment your email account becomes compromised, a hacker can effectively gain total and unfettered access to ALL of your online accounts that are linked to it.
Say for example you have a Yahoo.com email account and a Facebook account. One day your Yahoo email password gets stolen by a hacker. The hacker then proceeds to try and reset your Facebook password by using the Forgot Password option that allows an individual to reset their password if forgotten. Facebook then sends a password reset email to your now compromised Yahoo.com email account and the hacker is able to reset your password to what they want. Now the hacker has access to your email AND you Facebook account. Now replace Facebook with your online bank account, other social media outlets (Twitter, Instagram), additional email accounts etc. Now the problem continues to multiply and with each account that gets compromised, your entire digital profile begins to fall into the hands of a crafty and unrelenting cyber criminal.
This type of threat is all too real and very damaging if it were to occur to you. That’s why it’s very important to follow the below recommendations to ensure that your email account(s) do not become compromised as much as you can:
• Use a strong password for your email account. recommended length should be between 8-16 characters long. The longer the better.
• Turn on Two-Factor authentication (if available). Many popular email services like Microsoft, Gmail, Yahoo etc supports this. This requires a generated code be used to sign into your account in addition to your password. The code is usually generated through an App on a trusted device such as your smartphone. More and more websites are now implementing this optional security feature. I recommend you enable it on all of your important online accounts if possible.
• NEVER write your password down on paper. While It can become difficult to keep track of multiple passwords, however this practice makes it easy for someone to steal your credentials. Instead use software like LastPass and 1Password to keep all your online passwords securely stored in a digital vault.
• Do not save passwords on a Public computer. This can allow another user to access your account after you’ve logged off.
With common sense security habits you can begin to ensure the likelihood of your email account becoming compromised is reduce significantly and prevent a cascading effect of your other online accounts becoming compromised as well.