We all know that it is wise to protect our banking and credit card information. However, we may lose sight of the damage hackers can do with access to our email addresses. It can enable a hacker to cause damage to various aspects of your life.
A hacker can access your contact list
Once a hacker has your email details, he or she can send emails from your account without your knowledge. The hacker will have access to your entire contact list, and everyone on the list will be potential hack victims. They may receive emails containing malware from your address. Similarly, scams requesting money or their bank and credit card details may be in their inboxes.
Your friends and family will likely recognize it as a scam because they know you would not send such emails. However, your boss might be the recipient, or it could be a romance scam — offering your services. When a hacker impersonates you, serious unanticipated problems could affect your professional and personal life, all without your knowledge. Take care when you use public wifi. When you do, set up a mobile hotspot to limit vulnerability.
A hacker will attempt to get your password
Your email alone does not allow the hacker enough opportunities to misuse your information. Now that they have your email address, they will likely send you phishing emails. Always look out for instructions to follow legitimate-looking links. If you receive unexpected business emails, do not click to follow links. The hacker may tell you to follow the link to change your password because of an unauthorized access attempt.
The email you receive might seem to be a genuine document from PayPal, eBay, Amazon or other financial institutions. When you follow the link to the fake website, you will enter your password, and that is all they want. From there on, they can manipulate your finances as they see fit.
The risks of logging in with your email address
Many of the online services ask you to use your email account to log in. They include social media sites, online retailers, Google Docs and even PayPal. Those who use the same password for different accounts make it easier for hackers. Nevertheless, even if you use different passwords, a hacker can simply click “forgot password.” The email to change your password will go to the email address to which the hacker already has access. As easy as that — and your accounts will now also be their accounts. The hacker will have access to all your accounts before you even know that a they have gained access to your email.
Limitless opportunities for hackers
It does not end there; the damage will begin causing a domino effect. Each accessed account will allow the hacker into the next and the next one. Make sure to set your Facebook privacy protections. If not, a quick search for your name will let the hacker into your Facebook account. All your Facebook friends are potential victims, and besides, your pictures will be there for the hacker to use to your detriment.
The next step will be your LinkedIn account. Once in, the hacker will know where you work, and all your colleagues may be at risk. The damage continues, the hacker will then focus on Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare, and a wealth of information about you. Before you know it, your political views, travel plans and even your favorite places will part of the compromised material. Each step will give the hacker access to another range of names linked to you and your friends.
Hackers can ruin your credit score
Once they have gained access to your bank account and credit or debit cards, consequences could be devastating. Again, the risk is higher if you log in with your email. They can issue payments from your account, open other bank accounts, credit cards and even loans in your name. Along with losing all your money, it will ruin your credit score. Moreover, it will leave you nowhere to turn for help to get back on your feet.
Don’t forget blackmail
If you have any information that you do not want to be public, the hacker could use the opportunity to blackmail you. If you have money that the hacker cannot access, blackmail may be the apparent option.
In conclusion, protect your passwords, credit card information, Social Security number and any other personal details with your life. There is no limit to the damage a hacker can do.