If you are using any free email service; Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc... please go in and change the password NOW!
I've posted about all the SPAM emails, from hacked email accounts, I receive in past posts. I get so many because my email address is in the contact lists of thousands of Instructors receiving our email newsletter.
My request isn't about me... although I am getting tired of responding to dozens of these every week. I feel it's my responsibility to "Reply to All", alerting the owner of the email address and everyone who was contacted with the hacked email.
This is about protecting you! If your email is hacked they know everything about you 🙁 Where you work, where you bank, what stores you have accounts, everything.
And about protecting your friends who, seeing what looks like an innocent email from you, click the link and install some malicious software on their computer.
That software could potentially lead to the theft of your friend's identity or worse, the stealing of their bank passwords which will allow a hacker to withdraw all their money.
It's also about protecting the future deliverability of emails sent by you. All the big email providers work to prevent SPAM. Having your email address identified as one connected with SPAM is a quick path to email purgatory (SPAM folder) and your important message never getting read.
OK John, but what should I change it to?
There has been lots discussions around what makes the perfect password. But I'm going to guess that the passwords of the nine hacked emails I saw today were simply one word... so even a small change will make a huge improvement in preventing it's discovery.
I realize that the frustration of remembering your passwords are in large part the reason why people use simple, easy to remember words.
A suggestion is to take your existing password (if it has 8 or more letters) and add one capital letter and two special characters.
So "password" would be greatly improved by changing it to "@Password!"
Another option would be to combine three easy to remember words, separated by special characters. The three girls in my life are Amy, Abby and Carly so a reasonably secure password could be Amy&Abby&Carly. You can use your first name, your dog's name and your city or any other three words and special character combination.
One more suggestion - You may have heard you should have a different password for every website - unrealistic. But I personally use a few different passwords, depending on the type of website where I have a user name.
- One simple password for sites that don't matter (No email or financial data) Here's where you can use "password" 🙂
- One password for important sites (No financial data)
- A complex password for each website that has financial, medical or credit data. Create a prefix password and add the name of the institution at the end like; @Password!=visa or @Password!=bank or @Password!=401k
The objective is to prevent a hacker, who's gained access to your hotmail account from cleaning out your checking account because you used the same password in both places.
It's really a big deal so stop everything and change your email password NOW - before you get an email from me saying it's too late, followed by an overdraft (email) notice from your bank.
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Update – I have received emails from 6 hacked accounts this weekend alone!
Update #2 The 6 I referenced above were the emails that actually made it to my inbox. I looked at my spam folder and counted 27 additional hacked emails from Instructors over the last week.