Many times we get a call that an email has been hacked, and almost every time it is. In December alone, Striker-Pierce responded to over 30 Clients complaining that their email had been hacked. So the big question is why? Why were you hacked? Most people are convinced it was a family member or colleague, but amazingly this is rarely the case. Here are what we have found to be the major reasons emails are hacked.
Random Individual Account Hacked: In these cases, hackers have sent out trojans or viruses which you have clicked on. They didn’t choose you specifically, you just happened to click on the wrong link and now your contacts are being sent baldness marketing emails from your account. Easily fixed, but they can be pretty embarrassing. We can normally fix this for you or walk you through the fix.
Your email provider has been hacked: In these cases, the entire provider has been hacked. We have seen lots of this with AOL, Ipage, and even Earthlink. The only way to fix this is to change mail providers. I would have to say that 9 times out of every ten inquiries we get about email hacks, these older providers are what the Client is using (we just had one on Sunday). Go to a 3rd party safe computer, open a Gmail account or other safer provider, and start manually populating your contact list from your old provider (DO NOT ALLOW THE AUTO_POPULATE FUNCTION). Let your closer contacts know you are switching to a new provider and provide your new address. Leave the old email open for a short time to ensure you have reached out to your most important contacts and then switch over.
You have been targeted specifically. We have mainly only seen this in small businesses and dining establishments. The main hack is normally a POP or backdoor method and is almost always an ex-employee. Essentially you, as the employer, provided them with access to your network and provided them an email address. They set the email to automatically forward company emails to a 3rd party email address. Even after they leave their position these emails continue to forward, normally giving away client lists, price lists, and other valuable competitive intelligence. The fix here is easy: review all email accounts and deactivate any accounts that are not being used or that you didn’t set up. Also, check your shared email accounts’ settings and ensure that no mail forwarding is currently set up by any former or current employees.
The main takeaway here is two-fold: email hacks are not sophisticated but extremely damaging and that the fix normally involves routine due diligence and attention to detail when bringing on or dismissing an employee. All three hacks occur but all are easily thwarted with some basic common sense and a little diligence. If you have been hacked, call us today for help or email us at: 571-451-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org