Most of us that using a free email service can be a convenient and inexpensive way to stay in touch online. With that convenience, however, come certain risks. When using a free email account, you are often more susceptible to spam, access issues, and hacking.
Hacking, or email account hijacking, is especially common with free, web-based email accounts. This is often because users create free accounts quickly, often spur-of-the-moment or even temporarily. Since the accounts are fairly unimportant, the passwords used are easy to remember, which also makes them easy to guess.
If someone attempted to hack into your email account, would you recognize the threat? You would if your account is with Gmail. Recently, I received this detailed warning from Gmail, my one of my free email providers:
Someone recently used your password to try to sign in to your Google Account - email@example.com. We prevented the sign-in attempt in case this was a hijacker trying to access your account.
Please review the details of the sign-in attempt:
Sunday, April 21, 2013 1:56:07 AM UTC
IP Address: 185.*.***.***
Location: Gaithersburg, MD, USA
If you do not recognize this sign-in attempt, someone else might be trying to access your account. You should sign in to your account and reset your password immediately. Reset password (This was a link.) Sincerely, The Google Accounts team This email can't receive replies. For more information, visit the Google Accounts Help Center. If firstname.lastname@example.org isn't your Google Account, click here to disconnect your email address from this account.
If you receive a similar email from Google, check for the following:
- Look for the Google logo.
- Read the footer (and any other small print) carefully.
- If there are any enclosed links, click with caution.