Fake emails are sent from the U.S. more than any other country.

One of the biggest cybersecurity problems we face is one of our most common communication tools — email.

That’s what online security company FireEye found after analyzing more than 500 million emails from earlier this year. It concluded one of every 101 emails is “malicious,” and some other scary stuff…

  • While 58 percent of all emails were blocked because they weren’t sophisticated enough to trick email providers.
  • 10 percent were “advanced,” requiring stronger programming to wrestle them down…
  • Leaving less than a third (32 percent) emails labeled “clean,” or able to make it to our inboxes.

Bolstering these results is similar research from email authentication software company Valimail. It found that there is “an estimated 6.4 billion fake emails sent worldwide every day,” and that more fake emails are sent from the US than from any other country on Earth.

At the mercy of a hacker

Why does that matter? FireEye says that 91 percent of cybercrime “begins with email.” While its research is focused on businesses, the criminals behind these emails are targeting people like you and me.

Take ransomware, for example. Emails deliver almost half (46 percent) of all ransomware attacks, FireEye says. If you don’t know what ransomware is, that’s OK: Neither do almost half of Americans.

As Debt.com has previously reported, “Ransomware is dangerous software that allows an outside user to take control of a digital device and lock you out of it by using encryption. Unlike other malware, you may be able to recover your files … if you pay up.”

So why are cybercriminals focusing so much on email? A look at similar studies shows it’s at least partly due to our irresponsible email behaviors.

We don’t even try anymore…

Data breaches are so common online, IT pros admit they’re more worried about cyberattacks now than they were last year.

A survey from senior-focused nonprofit AARP found our own behavior might be largely allowing these attacks to succeed…

  • Almost half (48 percent) of adults use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Just 43 percent of its survey’s respondents told AARP they have “online access to all of their bank accounts.”
  • Less than half (47 percent) said they’d seen fraudulent charges on their credit or debit card.
  • But a very small amount of people (14 percent) did something about it, like ordering a freeze on their credit report.

“Our survey results indicate that a lot of people may feel overwhelmed, and have just given up,” says AARP’s lead fraud researcher, Douglas Shadel. “Two-thirds of those surveyed said that given the number of data breaches that have occurred, they think it is inevitable that criminals will be able to exploit their credit at some point.”

…But we can and we should

There’s a lot each of us can do to protect ourselves online.

For one, be careful when you’re using the internet in a public space. That free network provides your device access to the web, but could also provide the web access to your device—and bad people could take advantage. Leave things like banking, shopping, or anything requiring your financial information for when you get home.

Here are five quick tips:

  • Use unique passwords for all of your accounts.
  • Make sure passwords can’t be easily used.
  • Change your passwords every few months or so.
  • Don’t leave accounts open online if you don’t use them.
  • Never, ever email your social security number, driver’s license number, bank or credit card account numbers, etc.

For more, you can check out Debt.com’s Education Center on computers, technology, and ID theft.

free debt analysis call 855-654-9191

Meet the Author

Gideon Grudo

Gideon Grudo

Writer for Debt.com

Grudo is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist based in Brooklyn, NY. Previously he was the digital editor of Air Force Magazine and the managing editor of South Florida Gay News.

News, Tech

identity theft

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Article last modified on January 2, 2019 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Your Email Accounts Are Vulnerable to Fraud - AMP.