A simple way for hackers or fraudsters to gather information about is through your email address. Many email services today offer profile sharing and create profiles on their sites directly from the information you provide when creating an email address. An example of this is windows live, or an MSN profile, Yahoo profile, even Google Buzz.
Your most important email address is your personal email address. The one you most likely use for banking, your personal social media profiles, and personal communication with friends, family, clients, and co-workers. You should keep the shared information on your personal email as private as possible and disable any public sharing of this personal information.
If you use your personal email to communicate on online dating sites, you should guard your details just the same way you would guard your home phone number, your cell phone number or your home address. Before you get started with online dating, one of the basic security aspects is to make sure you are communicating over a safe and secure email address. Hackers, scammers and spammers can find very creative ways to use your email address so understanding email security and proper email use is a must in order to have a safe and secure experience with online dating.
If you are very new to the Internet, and not too Internet savvy, we recommend that you create a new email address for online dating. There are various email services you can use, such as Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo. The email service that you use is not important. What's important is that you separate your personal account from the your the account you will use to communicate with the people you meet on online dating websites.
When you sign up for an online dating website or a social website like Facebook you will be interacting with many new people and and your email address will be used for both communication, logging in to many websites, and exchanging messages with both the dating site, and the people you meet through the dating site. If your not too Internet savvy, and do not know how to spot scammers, spammers, and hackers over the Internet, we recommend that you set up a new email address and possible use a nickname or some other name other than your real name so that your identity is kept safe and secret. Any scammer, spammer or hacker or even an obsessed person you might meet online will not be able to easily identify you through your email address if you take this precaution.
While this may seem extreme, it's better to be safe then sorry. It only takes a few minutes to create a new email address and the benefit of this is that if you ever run into any problems you can literally toss this email address away, simply not use it anymore, and it will not be tied into any of your other personal accounts which may include your personal bank accounts, Facebook account, etc. Also, if you ever want to stop communicating with someone online, they will not be able to harass you as your identity will remain a secret.
As with most other accounts, the security of your email accounts depends in large part on the strength of your password. You should have a strong password that is not easy to guess or crack. If you have not don so already head over and read our article on Password Security For Online Dating, so that you can follow the best protocol for choosing a good password.
If you would just like to check the current strength of your password, or check the strength of a password you're thinking of using, you can use Microsoft's Password Strength Checker. If you have a weak password that can be easily guessed or cracked, someone could gain access to your email account and all the information stored within your account. Once your email is compromised the could gain access to any other accounts tied to your email account.
One final tip is to have different passwords for different email accounts. If one of your accounts is ever compromised, your other account may still remain protected because of the different password. Although having many passwords is often to time consuming for most people, it really is a good way to increase your protection online.
In order to increase the security of your email address you should always create some security questions when creating your email account. Security questions are designed to add an extra layer of security in case you ever forget your password or need to reset it for some reason. If you want to check your security questions you can usually do it under the settings of your account under security or privacy in most accounts.
Some common / standard security questions include:
What is your pet's name?
What is your date of birth?
What was the make of your first car?
What city were you born in?
What is your mother's maiden name?
What are your children's nicknames?
Who is your favorite author?
Best childhood friend?
Favorite historical person?
Choose your own security question …
The list of security questions above are usually the questions that are predefined for you when you set security questions in your account. Even though these questions are a good start, someone who knows you fairly well, or can gather a good amount of information on you from public online profiles or other sources of information, may be able to guess the answers to your security questions. If someone can figure out the answers to your security questions, they could gain access to your account and reset your password, this would give them full access to your account and it would essentially be hijacked. Once the culprit has gained access to your inbox if could lead to identity theft because of the culprit's access to a variety of personal information found in your inbox.
Many email services now and days offer you the choice of creating your own security questions. This is actually the best option, because it allows you to create a unique questions that only you would know the answer too. If you choose to do this make sure you create a question that only you know the answer to. In general it should be something very personal, but also something very easy to remember, because you may need to answer this security question, if you every need to reset your password. If you create a good security questions it makes it almost impossible for a hacker, spammer, or scammer to hijack your account by guessing your security question.
Your online dating profiles can contain some personal information. After all you want to share some details about yourself so that other members can find you under targeted searches based on information you share on your profile. You also want to share some information so that your profile looks like it was created by a real person. Sharing some information helps other real genuine people get to know you a little before they decide to initiate contact with you. However, make sure you never share any information that could help someone guess your security questions or passwords.
Secrets Are Good
First and foremost, you should never give out your passwords, credit card information or bank account information under any circumstances online. Not even your own bank will ever ask you for your password or to verify your credit card number through an online chat session or email. Banks and credit cards ask you to verify account information but you should only do this when you call them, and never when you receive a phone call.
Apart from the above, you should also keep other details secret which could help someone guess your security questions or passwords. If someone you do not know starts asking very personal or detailed questions, a red flag should go off in your mind right away. While it is common sense not to give out your password to anyone, many of us do not think before answering other questions someone might ask us online. Be fully aware of what your security questions are and never divulge that information to anyone.
In today's world email addresses can be valuable tools for spamming, identity theft, and other fraudulent activities. Although it's not very common to have someone go through so much trouble to access your account, you could one day run into someone who wants to identify specific details in order to hack into your account. This person might try to hold one or many conversations with you through email, or chat while they gradually gather more details and information from you through seemingly normal conversations.
For example the scammer could make a conversation about pets, how they love animals and share details about their pets. If your security question is related to your pet, you should not share this specific personal information with anyone.
Keeping your email secure is not rocket science. Just remember not to divulge specific details that could compromise your security questions and password to anyone.