Friday, December 30, 2011

When Disaster Strikes

The worse case scenario was realised for a client recently. Their web-mail account was hacked, and despite all our attempts the account could not be recovered.

We value our e-mail accounts, but should treat them like they're a treasure. Especially, as in this case, when the account is used as the main means of doing business with clients.

Losing all your contacts details is a loss in itself, but what if you've lost e-mails that not only contain your credit card details, but also those of past clients? Think also of the loss of future business, as people use the old, hacked e-mail address. Think of the hacker rubbing his hands in glee as people try to pay him with a credit card...

It is truly a nightmare situation, but there are steps you can take to prevent this happening to you.

1. Backup your webmail contacts once in a while
Depending on your webmail service, you should export your contacts:

Yahoo - click Contacts tab, select all, click Export all. To a CSV
Hotmail - click Options, and click the Export Contacts list. Auto saves to a contacts csv.
Gmail - in Contacts, click More, then Export.. then choose CSV.

2. Make sure you've a strong password
8 characters or more, numbers, letters, Capitals, punctuation. Then change it on a regular basis.

3. Use the security question option
And change it once in a while.

4. If there are credit card details in an e-mail:
print it, file it safely, and then delete it. Then empty your Trash folder.

5. Above all: never never never click on a link that then asks for your account details. And never click on an .EXE attachment. And never send (or ask for) credit card details by e-mail. In fact, trust nothing anyone asks for in an e-mail.


More hacked clients has led me to offer further suggestions.

6. Export ALL your e-mail once in a while
Sounds like a massive job, but it's actually quite easy to export Yahoo into Gmail. See this article.