Why I Have Two E-mails, I Was Hacked

Okay, I have more than two e-mails, but that’s beside the point right now.

I consider myself a very secure person until I was hacked this year. I have 2-step authentications and SMS-authentications for most of my accounts which have the feature. However, I am guilty of something a lot of people take for granted, not only do I have a relatively easy password; I use the same password for all my online accounts.

Gmail is awesome

I have a Gmail e-mail that I have been using since 2005 which was consistently hacked/leaked in multiple hacking incidents involving big tech companies, and I never paid attention. I only found out about it through this site, after I was hacked. This prompted me to immediately change all my passwords, for all my accounts (it wasn’t easy) and delete my bank details online, wherever possible, hoping the websites don’t have my data archived. As a second security step, I replaced all my bank cards. Yes, I have a different password for every single account I have now. How do I remember them? I switched from password to passphrases, and I use 1Password.

My Uber account was hacked

My Uber account was hacked

It didn’t end there.

I reached Inbox Zero early this year, which deserves an entry of its own, and one of the most important things to remember to maintain it is taking control of your e-mail subscriptions. I freelance e-mail marketing and make beautiful e-mails. It is safe to say; I love them. So when I get unsolicited e-mails, it drives me crazy. Unfortunately, not all countries have kept up with the progress of online marketing and not everyone is aware of the laws that regulate them (i.e. CAN-SPAM Act in the U.S.).

Currently, in the UAE, I am not conscious of any online marketing laws specifically governing e-mail marketing. However, I do believe that other consumer rights or cyber crime laws apply to it.

Not the SPAM I like

Unfortunately, I do not have the stats to prove it, but I get unsolicited marketing e-mails from UAE businesses at least twice, daily. It made me wonder, how are these marketers getting my contact information? My public e-mail address is not even getting this much SPAM! I have dealt with people in the country who’s looking for e-mail marketing help and found out that most of them here buy their subscribers. I’ve experienced this more than once. I remember one of them required me an NDA, while another one did not and provided me full access to the database, including export. So I cleaned up and sorted my subscriptions manually (I’ve also used Unroll.me before) and unsubscribed to the unwanted e-mails and marked them SPAM. It was appalling that some of them don’t even have the unsubscribe option!

After the successful cleanup, I decided I needed a new e-mail address which is dedicated to e-mail subscriptions and an e-mail I wouldn’t mind sharing with anyone including marketers. So far, it’s been great. Doing so allowed me to notice patterns from marketers too and if someone is sharing my e-mail with other businesses.

What can you do?

Security, specifically online safety is something everyone should take very seriously. I suggest the following to start protecting yourself:

  1. Use passphrases instead of passwords.
  2. Use different passphrases for all your accounts.
  3. Never give away your e-mail address and contact details to marketers/businesses, unless you really have to.
  4. Find out about the company’s security measures and user protection details if you share your data with them.
  5. Encrypt. This is a great article on how to encrypt your life.
  6. E-mail newsletters and subscriptions are great, but you have to be in control.
  7. Try to have multiple e-mail accounts for different purposes.

I’m not entirely sure what happened to my Uber account and if my old Gmail account has something to do with it. Apparently what happened to me is common, read here.

Have you been a victim of any forms of hacking? Share your stories!

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