submitted by Peter Chronis
These days criminals are using a variety of techniques to compromise and gain access to accounts across the Internet. They then often use these compromised accounts to send spam or gain unauthorized access to a victim’s private information (emails, banking information, etc.).
Just take a look at all the recent stories about stolen passwords and hacked accounts from some of the most popular sites on the Internet today.
To reduce the risk of getting your accounts hacked into or compromised, we recommend that you take the following precautions to protect yourself:
1. Be Careful What You Click
Never reply to emails or click on email links that ask for your username and password. Our spam prevention partners have tracked a significant increase in phishing worldwide. Criminals often use phishing scams to help gather credentials. Phishing is a term used to describe false emails sent from spammers claiming to be sent from a legitimate company (for example, EarthLink or well-known banks) and asking for your username and password. These fraudulent emails may look quite authentic – so beware.
2. Use Varying Usernames and Passwords
Don’t use the same username and password across multiple sites like email, banking and social network sites. Recent security research revealed that, on average, people use the same credentials to log into 49 different sites. Email usernames and passwords can be acquired from security breaches suffered by other service or product providers (tens of millions of credentials have been reported this year alone by other service or product providers). If you are using the same password for your EarthLink account as other accounts that were breached, then spammers may use this information to access your EarthLink email and send spam.
For these reasons, it’s good to have a system to generate strong, unique passwords for all the sites you use. Just follow these three simple steps.
You can change your EarthLink password here at any time.
3. Run an Antivirus Program to Curb Malware Infections
Some malware today is designed to run stealthily on your computer while it records the usernames and passwords to sites you access (your Web Mail, online banking, etc.). Some security firms are reporting malware infection rates as high as 1 in 3 computers worldwide. To protect yourself, the first step is to run an antivirus scan on your computer. This can be done with any antivirus program of your choice. EarthLink offers Norton 360 Online as a premium antivirus subscription with a Free 30-Day Trial if you want to check it out.
4. Choose Your Secret Hint and Word Wisely
A secret word or hint is often used to verify your identity when account changes are being made. You should not use information associated with you that is readily available on the Internet or through other sources. If you are unsure, try doing a quick Internet search for yourself to see what you can find. If you can find it, so can a hacker.
Stay safe out there and never hesitate to reach out if you have additional questions around email or password security.
For further support from EarthLink, visit our Knowledgebase Support Center.