New research from UK General Insurance in partnership with Cyber Aware released today has revealed that 79% of Brits surveyed keep emails in their inboxes that could be exploited by hackers for ID theft, fraud, or impersonation. Cyber Aware is warning the UK public that without using a strong and separate password for our main email account, we risk giving a wealth of information to cyber criminals that could be used against us.
Not only are we holding onto e-receipts revealing our purchase history (51%) but over a third of UK adults surveyed keep messages from loved ones (34%), store personal photos of friends, family or pets (35%) and 6% have love letters saved in their inbox. UK General and Cyber Aware are advising that this kind of information can be like ‘gold dust’ to hackers, who can use it to commit cyber crime including making phishing emails more convincing by including personal information or impersonating us or our loved ones.
Despite this, instead of ensuring our email password is secure, many of us use personal information such as our children’s or pet’s names, which can be easily found out. The data also revealed that three in 10 (30%) of Brits surveyed use the same password for their email account as other online accounts, even though this can allow hackers to access many of our other personal accounts once one is discovered.
National Cybercrime Programme Lead, Detective Superintendent Andrew Gould from the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Just imagine someone posing as you and the reputational, emotional and financial damage it could do to you and your loved ones. The Cyber Aware campaign wants to make people really think about the value of our inboxes and treat them in the same way we treat treasured possessions in the offline world, by taking the simple step of having a strong and separate email password, by using three random words and adding special characters and numbers to make it stronger. For an added layer of protection we recommend using two-factor authentication on your email account, if available. This means your account can only be accessed with a device you have already registered.”
According to Fidus, we can expect these types of threats to become more prevalent unless education improves. Hackers are becoming more resourceful and not everyone is fully aware of the potential risk scenarios.