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“Has my email been hacked?”

A popular email scam has people questioning if there’s been a security breach of their email account. If you’ve received a message like this, we’re here to tell you it’s definitely a scam.

It goes like this:

  • The email includes a real password that you’ve used at some point.
  • The hacker claims to have used this to install malware on your device
  • They ensure you that even if you’ve changed your passwords they can still access your info
  • They claim to have obtained videos of you doing embarrassing things through your camera
  • And threaten to send it to all your contacts
  • Unless you send them money via bitcoin

Most email scams are pretty easy to identify. But this one has fooled a lot of people. Why? Because it contains your real password. Even though in most cases it’s an expired password, people still get freaked out by this.

So what actually happened?

A hacker did obtain your password from a site. Although it’s probably not the website they state it was in your email. It’s most likely a site that doesn’t exist anymore that was hacked a long time ago. Maybe even 10 plus years ago!

The only information the hacker obtained from this site was your email and password. Everything else they try to convince you they’ve done is made up.

There’s no way they could have used this outdated password to install any sort of software on your device, they are not recording you through your camera, and they do not have access to all your contacts.

What can we learn from this?

If you were frightened by this scam you are not alone. Many people use the same password for all of their online accounts, and many people never change them. If this sounds like you then listen up: change your passwords frequently.

In most cases it’s ok to use the same password, or the same variation of a password for multiple accounts. We get it, it’s hard to keep track of all those different logins. But you should take the time at least once a year to go through them all and change them.

Google has an online “phising quiz” to help educate and test your ability to identify scam/phishing attempts:

http://phishingquiz.withgoogle.com/

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