When your email address falls into the wrong hands, not only is it inconvenient, but the consequences can be enduring.
At best, you may face a deluge of annoying spam emails, and at worst, it could entangle you in a scheme to extract valuable data for malicious purposes. Despite adhering to best practices, the exposure of your email address to malicious entities has become more prevalent than ever.
Here are 9 very ways spammers can obtain your email address and compromise your security:
Data Breaches: Numerous companies announce data breaches daily, exposing data that hackers can exploit for identity or financial theft. If your email is in one of these companies' database, chances are it will be used by scammers
Email Harvesting: Spammers use harvesting bots to collect email addresses from publicly available data on websites, forums, social media, and other online spaces. They will then sell or leak these addresses.
Leaked or Sold Addresses: Companies or individuals may leak or sell your email address, making it susceptible to spammers, hackers, or identity thieves.
Dictionary Attacks: Spammers employ programs to guess email addresses using common names, sending emails to guessed addresses to verify their authenticity.
Exposure in third party breach: When emails are sent using CC or directly to you or by you, and someone accesses the exposed email addresses - for instance, by hacking into someone's computer, your details and data can be used against you.
Phishing: Spammers pose as reputable entities, tricking recipients into providing email addresses and personal information under false pretenses.
Online sign-ups, Giveaways, promotions, bad apps: Using your personal email for sweepstakes, signing to games or apps, or registering into websites - will likely lead to your information being sold - in the case any of these sites is a scam - or being leaked - in the case these sites are insecure and breached.
Social Media Exposure: Social media platforms can inadvertently expose your email address, making it accessible to spammers who scrape information.
Email Retargeting: Spammers use retargeting companies to harvest information when you visit certain websites, including your email address, for targeted emails or pop-ups.
To safeguard your email, consider the following measures:
Create alias email addresses for added security.
Use a password manager for complex and regularly changed passwords.
Exercise caution with email attachments and links from untrusted sources.
Use reliable security software on all devices.
Verify account changes directly on official sites rather than clicking links in emails.
Limit the number of accounts associated with your personal email.
Regularly scrub your online information to prevent exposure.
Use a VPN service to enhance privacy and security, especially on public Wi-Fi networks.