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Our personal email accounts enable us to send and receive messages instantly with people all around the world. The way you sign into your personal email account is by entering in your username and password then clicking “Sign In”. Your email account may be secured by the most complicated and complex password, but that alone is not enough to keep hackers out.
So, how exactly could a hacker compromising your personal email account lead to your online accounts associated with it being potentially compromised as well? After clicking on “Continue”, Facebook sends a code to the email addressed associated with the Facebook account. Since the hacker already has gained access to your personal email account, they can easily click on “Continue” and simply wait for the password reset email in your inbox. After receiving the code from the password reset email from Facebook and entering it into the field, the hacker is prompted to choose a new password. Let’s first revisit “fluffy” mentioned above that was used as the answer to your email’s security question.
Let’s take a look at a sample list below of security questions you might be presented with. One thing a hacker might do is search the Internet for information to aid in guessing the answer to your security question. If at all possible, we recommend not relying on security questions as a tool to gain access to your email account in the event you do forget the password to your account. Two-factor authentication requires an additional factor, such as a passcode sent to your mobile phone, to be entered in before access is allowed to an account.
Although many email service providers are doing away with security questions due to its inherent flaws, some still utilize this feature. Strong passwords, 2 factor verification, and any security question that you are sure isn’t answered on any social networking sites help a lot! Good advice, but we users are not the ones who choose to base the system security on security questions. While we primarily use our email accounts for communications purposes, many of us use it to sign up for accounts such as online banking, online shopping, social networks, and even alternative email accounts.

For some email providers, in the event you somehow can’t access your account because you do not remember your password, you can simply click on “Forgot password” or “I can’t access my account”.
Hackers can simply try their luck by clicking on the same “Forgot password” link or “I can’t access my account” as you would if you forgot your password and see if they can guess the answer to your security question. Assuming a hacker has gained access to the email account connected with your Facebook account, they could go to Facebook and simply initiate a password reset. At this point, not only has the hacker gained access to your account, but you’ve also lost access since the password you once used to log in is now only known to the hacker.
Social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn are a goldmine of personal information that could be exploited by someone with malicious intent. Even if you choose to create your own security question rather than relying on default question that’s provided to you from your email service provider, the fact is the answer to your security question is still guessable.
This additional security measure is triggered when a login has been initiated by an unknown browser or device. However, the point of this blog is to focus on how to protect your email account, so that your other accounts don’t get compromised. But have you considered the possibility that your personal email account could be the weakest link? From there you’re presented with a security question that you must answer correctly, where upon doing so you’re prompted to create a new password before gaining access into your account. If you’re the type of person who emails yourself the login credentials for your online accounts, then you’ve practically handed the hacker the login credentials for those accounts too. Upon entering that email address and clicking on “Continue”, Facebook will ask “How would you like to reset your password?” along with the option to “Email me a link to reset my password”. In fact, you probably could answer many of these questions listed below for a friend or family member. If you have a photo of your dog Fluffy on your Facebook page, it’s not a good idea to use “fluffy” as the answer to a security question for any of your online accounts. The fact is a security breach associated with your email service provider could result in your email and password being exposed. The beauty of two-factor authentication is that it really doesn’t matter if the hacker got hold of your actual password.

Also, be sure to check with your other online accounts, such as for online banking and credit card, investment and trading, and shopping, to see if they offer two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is one layer of security you can put in place to protect your account. By “weakest link”, we mean that a compromised email account could potentially result in the accounts connected to it being compromised too.
Even if you’re not the type to email yourself login credentials, the online accounts connected to your personal email account could still be compromised. Though some of the characters in the email address given are masked by the asterisks symbol, it’s quite easy to determine if the email address shown is the same one the hacker has just gained access to. Or if the answer to your security question is your favorite author, then it’s not a good idea to publically announce on social networks that your favorite author is Tom Clancy. Without the additional factor, the code sent to your phone, the hacker simply cannot gain access to your account.
It may be less convenient for you to have to take an additional step to gain access to your account, but you’ll be glad you did knowing you have another layer of security guarding your online accounts! Below are links not only to enabling two-factor authentication for your email accounts but also for your Facebook and LinkedIn account.
Update the access info from time to time and close accounts that you suspect have been compromised. Keep password protected copies of account names, passwords and keys on removable media in safe places known only to you. The more physical (not logic) obstacles to overcome the less likely your data will be stolen or tampered with by remote control.

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