This is not news. You can get a free email account at Yahoo, AOL, Google, MSN and a number of other outlets (RocketMail, GMX, Inbox, Mail just to name a few but there are still many more).
So there really is no reason why you shouldn’t have at least two email accounts. The reason for this became very obvious this last weekend when Epsilon started sending out email alerts that an undisclosed number of their accounts (maybe you if you were there recipient of an Epsilon email alert this weekend but maybe not) were hacked. According to their email the hacker only got away with first names and your email account. So, what can they do with that? Its not your personal financial information. It wasn’t social security numbers. If we are going with what they are saying as true then the main thing we can expect is that the hacker will sell your email and first name and you will begin seeing an increased number of personalized SPAM in your email box. Epsilon did do a fair job of reporting the information and if you got one of their emails over the weekend it would be good to log into your account wherever the hack was reported and see what information you do have listed or stored with that site. I had completely forgotten about the account we had set up with CollegeBoard.com when my son was taking his SAT’s and CLEP exams but there it was.
So why two email accounts. It is a good time to set up an email account for signing up for things and another email account that you can use just for sending messages to friends and family. I use one email that I never voluntarily put into databases and one for signing up for things. Yes you have to check two email accounts but there are also some great programs out there that allow you to check several email accounts in one screen. So, if you are concerned about your email getting hacked then set up a new one just for signing up for things.
Another thing we have learned about email in the past several years is that we want to take better care of our passwords and clues so that we are not setting ourselves up for an easy hack. We learned this from the kid who hacked into Sarah Palins email. What was his genious hack? He typed in her email username – this was easily visible and widely available online – then he clicked on “forgot password”. The next step was easy. A series of clues came up to answer to verify that this person was indeed Sarah Palin. According the the Internet news (which may or may not be true) the clue that got him in was “where did you go to high school” and the answer was Wasilla. This information was also widely available online. Simple as that. Many sites are fixing this but there are still many sites out there that set your password retrieval on a series of questions/answers. Here’s the PRO TIP: You don’t have to answer truthfully or even in actual words. Do not answer your password retrieval questions with answers that are found when you google your name.
Take care of your email accounts, make sure your virus protections on your computer are up to date, and make your passwords something tougher to guess than your local football teams name or mascot.