Google just revealed that email-based phishing and malware attacks target American Gmail users more than any other demographic. In other words, if you use a Gmail account, you’ve got to watch out: scammers are slipping into inboxes with more sophisticated tricks than ever before.
Maybe your email address is already compromised. A Russian cybercrime operation is stealing ordinary email addresses to spread spam. Tap or click here for a free tool to quickly check if your email address is part of this online crime ring.
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No matter which email client you use, spam most likely stuffs your inbox. Here’s how to cut down on the amount of spam you’re seeing.
Are you at a higher risk for email spam?
Your age, gender, location and even email usage patterns can impact the likelihood of email attacks. Google’s joint study with Stanford University analyzed over 1.2 billion scammy email campaigns. They found that 42% of all victims were from the U.S.
That may not sound like much, but that’s three times as many victims as the second country on the list. In other words, Americans must be vigilant when they open their inboxes.
Malicious emails love to masquerade behind urgent subject lines that coax you to click on malicious links. With one click of a button, your security is toast. That’s why it’s important to teach yourself tricks to recognize malicious emails.
You may think that scammers target everyone indiscriminately. After all, they love to play the numbers game, targeting hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Researchers pinpointed four risk factors that boost your likelihood of an attack. If any of these situations apply to you, watch out!
A third-party data breach exposed your secrets
Data breaches are almost always a catastrophic hit on your privacy and security. When hackers penetrate a popular website or database, they could leak your personal data to the public and other cybercriminals. That means anyone can see your email address — maybe even your password, phone number and home address, too.
Hackers have no scruples. They’ll expose anything, from social media platforms to graphic design tool websites. Even hospitals are getting breached. That’s why you should never recycle passwords — hackers will try it on other websites to see if it works. Tap or click here for a free tool that tells you whether a data breach exposed your private information.
If you’re involved in a third-party data breach, your risk factor of email spam skyrockets. This increases your odds of being targeted by phishing or malware attacks by five times.
You’re over 55
Age is just a number, but it’s also a significant factor that puts you at risk. The research from Google and Stanford found that people 55 to 64 are at a higher risk for attack than 18- to 24-year-olds. It’s not a huge number, but they’re 1.64 times more likely to be targeted.
It’s still worth noting, though. Email scammers are not equal opportunity attackers. If you’re in your golden years, they want to capitalize on that.
You live in the land down under
Here’s where you might scratch your head. According to the data, Australian Gmail users are two times more likely to be attacked than Americans. “But, wait,” you may be thinking. “Aren’t 42% of all targets from the U.S.?”
The U.S. is the most popular target by volume — not by capita. In other words, the average Australian has a higher average risk factor than the average American. Either way, you should keep a close eye on your inbox!
Do you use multiple devices?
If so, you’re at a slightly higher risk of an attack. Mobile-only users are 0.80 times less likely to be the target of an email attack. Researchers weren’t sure why this is the case. They said it could stem from socioeconomic factors relating to device ownership.
For example, if you have more devices, that may indicate you’re part of a wealthier group. Of course, money makes scammers excited, so that means you’re a slightly tastier target.
Follow these steps to boost your protection:
- Check out your Google account’s Security Checkup page. Make sure to sign up for two-factor authentication!
- Check out Google’s Advanced Protection Program (APP). This uses security keys to help protect emails, documents, contacts or other personal data.
- Whenever you spot a phishing email, report it!
- You should also cut off any bad habits. There’s one mistake tons of people make that’s commonly thought of as a helpful way to stop the onslaught. In reality, it will only attract more annoying messages.
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