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Blackmail Emails: Top Tips to Stay Secure

1 October 2018 by Jenn Granger

Welcome to the beginning of Cybersecurity Month! As the temperature drops and we all huddle up with our laptops, let’s get to grips with the latest cybersecurity scares that are sweeping the nation and discover the top ways to stop unethical hackers in their tracks.

Cybersecurity

Few of us are strangers to spam, but something more sinister has been appearing in inboxes lately which might well have you in a panic.

A mass round of blackmail emails is blasting its way around the world, with cybercriminals making evermore increasing demands of everyday people.

This worrying trend has emerged over the past couple of months, with hackers claiming they have access to your important passwords, threatening to expose your details, gain entrance to your key accounts or, worse, bring your company down.

However, tech experts are saying not to be alarmed as there are ways you can prevent this from going any further.

Why is this happening?

The hackers have found your email address on a breached database. You might be aware that your details have been breached – for example, you may have received an email from the company to which you gave your email in the first place or you could have been a victim of a high-profile attack covered in the media – however, more often than not, you could be completely oblivious to the breach.

Most normal email addresses include your full name, making it easy for wrong-doers to personalise an email to you. The hackers have gained your email address and the password to the site that was originally breached. This may be a password you use for other sites you use regularly and can cause panic when it’s quoted back to you in a blackmail email.

But, there are some simple steps you can take to be secure and stop the blackmailers there and then.

How can I stop the hackers winning?

If you suspect you have been hacked or have had your details leaked by a third-party company, you can check this at www.haveibeenpwned.com (yes, that’s right…). By entering your email address, the site gives you a list of instances where your credentials have been leaked. You might be one of the lucky ones and never have been on a breached list: however, if you have, the site gives you further ways to keep yourself protected and ensure that your accounts stay secure.

But, before we start to feel safe and fuzzy again, let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can protect your programmes and keep the hackers at bay.

Security tips from UKFast:

Use 2FA (for everything!)

Be proactive when it comes to your security and protect your programmes with two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA means that even if hackers get hold of one of your passwords, it is useless without knowing your second log-in. UKFast gives you the option to use 2FA for your server solution. If you aren’t using it already, head to MyUKFast to update your account settings.

Generate strong passwords

There are external sites that can do this, however, you can ensure your passwords are strong by including punctuation and numbers as well as upper and lowercase letters. Passkeys can be actual words, a combination of random characters or passphrases (longer, complex sentences) which are super-tricky to crack: make your password totally unique.

Never use the same password for anything!

While we know it’s tricky to keep track of all those full stops, digits and bizarre turns of phrase, ensure that you have a different (strong) password for everything you use. One of the most common mistakes that people make is using their LinkedIn password for their work programmes. Sound the klaxons! This is an absolute no-go. In fact, we’d say it should be on the first page of Cybersecurity 101. You can store (and generate) your complex passwords in a password manager.

So, this Cybersecurity Month, be hyper-aware of the scams going around and make sure you use all the resources in your power to stay secure.

 

CTA: Security