I have a fabulous friend called Rebecca*. Not only is she smart and clever but she is all class. Now, I had thought that I knew this friend particularly well but when I started receiving emails from her regarding a certain part of the male body that could be enlarged and promising ‘staying power’, I wondered if I needed to have a rethink! Alas. No rethink required.

Rebecca had not developed a new hobby but had instead become a victim. Her email had been hacked. Poor Rebecca was devastated. She just couldn’t work out how this had happened to her. She had Internet security software that she thought was safe as it had only recently lapsed, she had never shared her passwords with anyone and she didn’t think she had ever visited any strange websites. So what went wrong?

Well, unfortunately, hackers are a particularly clever species who have an array of ways of gleaning personal information from law abiding citizens such as Rebecca. Here are just a few of the ways you can prevent your email from being hacked:

Don’t fall victim to a phishing scam

Never respond to an unexpected email or website that asks you for personal information or your login details no matter how professional it looks.

Comprehensive internet security software

Make sure you have comprehensive internet security software (that includes anti-spyware), and please keep it updated! Spyware hides itself on your computer, collects personal information about you and passes on your personal details without you knowing.

Avoid logging into your email from public places

Not only is there a greater chance of spyware on untrusted computers but some of them sport key logging programs which monitor and record the keys you strike on the keyboard – a great way of finding out your password!

Use strong passwords

Create strong passwords that include a variety of characters including numbers and symbols. Check out McAfee’s Security Advice Centre for some tips on how to create a strong password.

Don’t share your passwords

Never share your passwords and change your passwords regularly – at least every 6 months.

If your friends develop a sudden fascination with nether regions and enhancements, and are bombarding you with emails, please give them the benefit of the doubt and assume their email has been hacked. If not, it may be time to rethink your opinion of them! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

*My dear friend’s name was changed to protect her privacy.