Online Spring Cleaning

cyber-online-threat

Ok, it’s not spring yet but it is a new year and this came to mind in light of that. During a recent case we worked we set out to determine the particular email addresses for a computer user.  Looking through the system we were able to come up with the usual list besides the corporate address (Gmail, Hotmail, Comcast.net).  Sure these are common, but given that the system had been in use for quite a while (it was still running Windows 7) there were some others that I hadn’t thought of in years.  Email providers like earthlink, mail.com and even Yahoo was one I hadn’t thought of in quite some time. 

It got me thinking about personal email domains I had long since abandoned and never cleaned up.  Moreover, given that a number of these email systems have been compromised over the years (that we know of), what happened to the email that we left behind when they go to a new domain? Nowadays certain email providers have a policy in place that states if you don’t login for a year or two they close out your account.  But how long ago did they start this?  And before they started this how many batches of email accounts were compromised that some person, or group, has stored somewhere?  I’ve had a number of email addresses over the years, including a zdnetmail address if I recall correctly.  And if you recognize that you’ve been around a while! 

I’m sure there’s been some mention of cyber hygiene here but it emphasizes the importance of unique passwords and not having a plethora of email accounts that you have versus actively use.  Maybe one for work, one for personal, and one for bogus uses like a throw down for all those things you subscribe to in order to save 15% on whatever you’re buying.  Aside from those few, you ought to take into account (pun intended) what email addresses you have or can access still that you don’t need. 

Here’s just a couple of many questions you need to ask yourself: 1) what password were you using on the account, more to the point have you used it somewhere else and do you know what security protocols the provider has/had in place to protect you? And 2) what were the contents of the email and or data that you had in that account?  Is any of it personal information?  I know my desire to leave less data out in the open has increased over the years as I’ve gotten older and you’re likely no different. The takeaway?  It behooves us all to make sure we don’t leave more information online than we need to, AND know about.

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