by Paul Vaccarelli
I have received a lot of calls lately from clients in a panic because their contacts are receiving emails from them promoting all sorts of products from real estate to Viagra. They, of course, sent out no such email. To the recipients, though, it appears to be coming from them.
If this happens to you, your first fear might be that someone hacked into your computer and is sending out emails from there. You might think if they are in your computer sending emails, they may also have access to your data. Don’t worry, though, because this is likely NOT the case.
The hackers did not break into your computer; they broke into your email service provider, such as Hotmail, or Gmail, by guessing your email address and password. Hackers have software that will retrieve your email address from another victim, and then run password cracker programs to guess your password. Once they are in your email account, they look into your sent and deleted folders for email addresses you sent messages to, and then send their ads.
Fixing this is simple. Change your email password to something that is more cryptic. Use numbers and uppercase characters in your password. If the password is in the dictionary or a variation of an actual word, it is not a good password. Then, clean out your sent, deleted, and inbox folders. This will stop unsolicited ads from pouring out of your email account.