This morning I received an email informing me I had won an iPad. While a new iPad would be quite enjoyable, clearly this is just another ploy to make me click phishy link. Commtouch, an Internet Security company, recently published a report about the rise of spam and the current crisis of hacked accounts. “The State of Hacked Accounts” gives insights to why I receive daily offers for drugs I’ll never use, free products I actually want, and proposals from Ethiopia Princes who wish to share their fortune.
Real email accounts like yours and mine are main targets for hackers and spammers. Sending spam from an existing account is much more profitable than setting up phony accounts. Since recipients are often more trusting of the message, as it is coming from a known user they are more likely to click the link inside the email. Every clicked link is money in the spammer’s pocket, motivating them to keep hacking and spamming.
Commtouch reports that 54% of hacked accounts are used to send out spam and 23% of compromises are a combination of scams and spam, a trend that is beginning to increase. Generally, most users have no idea that their account was hacked until a friend alerts them after receiving a strange email message.
Awareness is the first step in protecting accounts. Commtouch suggests the following:
- Update your computer software to catch any viruses or bugs that your computer has picked up
- Frequently change your password making it more difficult to compromise your account
- Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
TeleSign provides two-factor authentication, which verifies users in real-time with their mobile phone. This enables users to have a one-time PIN code sent to their mobile number, only giving the user with the correct code access to the account. Updating your online account with your phone number will protect your account access and alert you if someone is trying to hack into your account.
It is clear from reports like these and the news, extra security measures like Two-Factor Authentication must be taken in order to secure valuable information.