Many Yahoo, BTInternet and Hotmail email accounts (and most probably others too) have been hacked into recently and many emails sent to those in the contacts lists, causing problems for the owner of the email account and all the people they have in their contacts list. These hackers write programs to keep on trying obvious passwords using words from the dictionary and obvious names plus combinations of numbers. You could change your email address and go through all the hassle that this brings with it but they will inevitably find your email address again and the same thing will happen. The following advice may help:
Make your password more secure by:
- Using at least 10 bytes.
- Do not use obvious words.
- Use upper and lower case letters and not necessarily only at the beginning of words.
- Intersperse the letters with numbers and not merely add “123” at the end.
- Use special characters interspersed in your password, if your email provider allows this, like for example £$%^&*.
- Change your password at least every 6 months.
Report the occurrence to your email hosting company by:
- Finding the email address of your email hosting company.
- Forwarding one of the emails which have been sent out to them ensuring you include the Headers of the email. To do this on Outlook go to File / Info / Properties and copy all of the information in “Internet headers” and paste this in your email to your email hosting company. The email without the headers will not tell your email hosting company where the email actually came from and they will be able to do little about it. The headers contain the IP address of the sending location and they are unique across the world.
- Ensure you set your email to be notified when the email you send is read (if your email system allows you to do this).
- Follow up with your email hosting company if you do not hear from them.
- If you have received a SPAM or Phishing email which is apparently from someone you know then do your duty and report the issue to the email hosting company it came from and advise the person whose account has been hacked into.
- Ensure you urge your email hosting company to block the hacker.
If you copy and paste the IP address of the sender which can be found in the Internet Headers of the email you have received, into the “Trace email address source” field of www.whatismyipaddress.com you will see where the email was sent from in the map of the world. If we all work together, doing our bit for the society we live in, we will reduce the issues relating to SPAM and Phishing and make the Internet a better place to be.