Many of us never pay a second thought to the confidential information contained within our email accounts. That information is a constant target for criminals and hackers, who look to exploit any weaknesses as an access point to your organisation’s network and access more more confidential data for the purposes of theft and extortion.
Understanding the risks that are posed by these cyber threats is essential to protecting not only your own account, but also the company’s resources more generally. Failure to do so can often be expensive and cause loss of access to key IT services while any unauthorised access or malware attack is remediated.
Here are some typical methods used to access a user’s email account.
Credential Stuffing Assaults
Cybercriminals leverage password reuse across multiple accounts, employing automated software to inject credentials into various logins. Even complex passwords are susceptible to this type of attack, so the best defence is to keep separate secure passwords for key online services such as email.
Having accessed to your email, hackers can exploit password reset links to take control of your other online accounts. In this type of attack, a user is very quickly deprived of access to several different online resources, often leading to financial loss.
Breaching Confidential Vaults
From bank statements shared with accountants to rental agreements disclosing personal details, cybercriminals gain access to highly sensitive data and can piece together your online identity to gain access to other services.
Identity Theft Impersonation
With a wealth of stolen information about a user, hackers can use your identity to disguise their activities in completely unconnected online areas. This online impersonation can cause untold reputational damage and cause financial losses to third parties.
Financial Data Theft
An email breach exposes you to the risk of financial theft, allowing cybercriminals to reset banking credentials, make unauthorised transactions, and wreak havoc on your credit score.
Exploiting your contact list, hackers often deploy automated phishing emails to huge numbers of people, often using the perceived authenticity of an email from a known contact to persuade others to send money or provide further online information.
Simple Steps to Secure your Email Account
- Avoid reusing the same password multiple times. Using credential management software such as Dashlane or Nordpass ensures that you maintain secure credentials across multiple platforms.
- Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for email services such as Microsoft 365.
- Exercise caution with personal information. If you are unsure whether an email is from the sender, do not enter personal information such as usernames and passwords using the links in the message.
- Use a VPN client to encrypt traffic when using public Wi-Fi networks. Many organisations will provide VPN access to office networks, and this should be used even when access to network resources such as files services is not needed. Hackers can see unencrypted information transmitted across wifi networks and use this to gain access to your accounts.
As we have demonstrated, there are some simple steps that we can all take to avoid falling victim to online fraud. Simply exercising caution before clicking on a link, not re-using the same passwords across multiple services, and guarding your credentials are a robust first line of defence against the ever-present threats from cybercriminals. For more information on how to secure cloud-based services such as Microsoft 365, call Cerberus Networks today and we will be happy to explain the other steps that can be taken at an organisational level to protect user accounts and secure company data.