Securing your email with a strong password is important, but it only protects your local email account. Once your email (and the data within) leaves your network – bouncing from server to server, on its way to the intended recipient – you have no control over its security.
Some common ways email can be hacked or intercepted:
- Email Headers – Did you know that the headers of your emails are full of information that can be of use to hackers? Even though you usually only see “From”, “To”, and the “Subject”, email headers can be manipulated to show your IP address, local time zone, and even the email software you are using (knowing the software version enables hackers to exploit bugs associated with that particular software).
- Keylogging software – This method is the easiest way to hack email. Hackers load the software (that is created to record a user’s keystrokes) onto unsuspecting machines remotely, and it operates silently in the background. Targets usually have no idea that every single keystroke is being captured in order to be potentially exploited.
- Web Bugs – These tiny, virtually undetectable images are inserted into HTML-formatted email by hackers. When the email is opened, information about your system and email software is sent right to the hacker. Hackers have gotten very clever in recent years, targets don’t even have to click any links to enable it –merely opening the email downloads the image into the email client.
- Network Traffic Interception – Hackers may monitor the course email messages travel in order to read the packets of data contained within the message as it moves through its intended route; this is called ‘network traffic interception’. As it applies to email, after you press send, your message is transmitted through a host of servers on the internet before it arrives to your intended recipient. All along that path, hackers can monitor the data packets moved along the route to decipher the information you are transmitting.
Any of these methods can be used without ever having to actually hack your email password! Before transmitting any sensitive data outside of your own network, make sure you’re doing what you can to safeguard your information from hackers and thieves.