Email have become an integral part of veterinary practice, providing a fast, cheap, accessible and reliable means of communication within a practice and with its clients. Usage of email has also grown in popularity over the years, providing practices with effective and efficient ways to transmit all kinds of electronic data over the internet.
However, the growth in usage has not been an easy sail, and the rise and popularity of email has been marred by insecurity issues and bad actors working to compromise the security and efficiency of email. This has eroded the confidence of some practice owners and practitioners, who have grown weary of the constant scare that their email, which contain personal and practice information, have been compromised.
The fear of being compromised by hackers, however, is not unfounded, and recent history has shown us how hacking can be devastating. In September of 2016, over 500 million yahoo emails were compromised, exposing details such as email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of births, and encrypted passwords, becoming the largest email compromise in history.
Why are emails compromised?
Emails have become a day-to-day tool for many businesses and veterinary practices. Business owners, veterinary practitioners and owners use email services almost every day to run errands of their organization.
To open an email account, users must provide personal information, including their telephone numbers and sometimes their addresses.
All this data and how emails have become important in day to day running of offices makes them a mine for valuable information that can easily be converted to a monetary value or used to blackmail individuals, companies and veterinary hospitals.
Another motivating factor is that emails are linked to other accounts that might be valuable to hackers. Research shows that, on average, an email account is linked to over 130 password-protected accounts. This includes transaction accounts that you use for online shopping, online banking systems and online government self-services. All this information is valuable to hackers and can be sold in the dark market or used for blackmail.
Hackers also hack email systems to gain access to email addresses that are more trustworthy and which they can use to run scams. This is because familiar emails are more likely to be opened, and with an average veterinary hospital receiving over 130 emails per day, it is always prudent for hackers to use emails that are more likely to be opened and trusted.
How are emails compromised?
There are many ways that can be used to compromise an email system. Below are some of the most common methods used by hackers to access unauthorized emails.
Research done by Verizon in 2017 indicated that 1 in every 131 emails sent contains malware. The report, which analyzed data from 2016 and compiled as a Data Breach Investigation report, was an eye-opener to many organizations. For context, it is estimated that over 290 billion emails are sent daily, meaning hundreds of millions of malware are sent daily in an attempt to compromise emails and gain access to valuable data.
The phishing method involves sending emails that look authentic to recipients in a bid to lure them into submitting their personal information. Although this is an old trick, its efficiency still remains, and it is one of the most effective methods used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to email accounts.
Using weak passwords that can easily be generated by programs is also a sure way of making your email account susceptible to compromise.
Clicking on malicious links
Not all links should be clicked. Some links download viruses that reside on your computer and are able to collect information such as email addresses using keyloggers and send them to hackers.
What to do if your email is hacked
Some of the steps to take when your email is compromised include:
Recover the email as fast as possible: The first thing to do when an email is compromised is try hard to recover it. This is because it still contains valuable information and people are used to that address. Contact customer service of your email provider to be provided with steps on how to proceed in recovering your email.
Did you know that Microsoft and Google GSuite only keep backups of your data for 30 days? If your emails or files are deliberately or accidentally deleted, but you don’t realize until several weeks later, you won’t be able to restore your data (which is why Microsoft themselves recommend using third-party backup services). If you are using a free google or msn account, there are no guarantees.
Lucca can back up your email indefinitely from the day we implement the back up. Delete an email from Feb of 2019 on Dec 3rd 2022. No problem we can recover it for you. This includes any shared google and onedrive folders and files. All for as little as $10 per month.
Change your password: After recovering your email, instantly change your password to ensure that hackers can no longer access your account. Ensure that your password is strong and contains uppercase, lower case, numbers and symbols.
Implement two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication helps email users to be notified when logging into emails. A code is sent to your preferred method, such as a mobile number, which has to be entered for a person to access your email account.
Reset passwords for other accounts connected to your email: With studies showing that, on average, an email account is linked to over 130 password-protected accounts, it is important to assume that all these accounts have been compromised and change your passwords for these accounts.
Change security question of your email: Changing your security question also strengthens your email and ensures that you are not compromised again.
Send an email to your contacts notifying them of your recent hack and ask if they noticed unusual activity.
Create a new account: Sometimes, it is not worth it fighting over spilled milk. You need to get up, dust yourself and create a new account that is safer than the email that was compromised. This is especially true if your email is attacked more than once.
Implement an Advanced Email Threat Protection: The last thing you want to do is go through this again. Or if you haven’t been compromised protect yourself from becoming compromised. With the Lucca email protection, Lucca constantly in real time scans all your emails looking for threats. If she finds a threat it’s immediately flagged and deleted. If it smells “phishy” and she’s not at least 80% confident she asks for your review. With a simple click of a button you can flag the email and add it to the block list.
Leverage the power of the many. With Lucca’s AI technology. When ever a veterinary hospital in the Lucca network flags an email your hospital is immediately protected from this threat as well! All in real time allowing you to focus on practicing medicine and serving your pet parents.
Email hacks are still the number one way we see veterinary practices compromised everyday. While most veterinary hospitals are concerned with protecting their practice management system none of them think about the dangers of having and using unprotected free email accounts. If you are ready to protect one of your most valuable assests contact Lucca Veterinary Data Security today for a FREE security consultation.
Peace Love and Plants-
Clint Latham J.D.
Lucca Veterinary Data Security