Are you Sure your Email isn’t being Hacked?

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email-trap.jpg In the interests of full disclosure, I didn’t come up with this idea. I read about it in a computer magazine a year or two back but of course when I wanted to refer to it for this article, I couldn’t find it! But someone on Digg eventually managed to find it so here is the original article if you want to see it.

As email providers give away more and more storage space, more and more personal information is being stored in those accounts. People are increasingly using their email accounts for more than just email – it has become their online document storage area with backup documents such as passwords, bank account numbers, account usernames, scans of correspondence and much more. Even if you don’t use your email for this purpose, you may still be inadvertantly revealing personal information in general conversation emails to family and close friends. A 6GB Gmail account or an unlimited space Yahoo account is potentially an information bonanza source for identity thieves who manage to figure out your email password and then go snooping.

But if someone HAS cracked your email password, it may not be apparent to you. A snooper can easily read an email then mark it as unread again. So the best thing to do would be to set up an “electronic tripwire” so if someone breaks into your account, you’ll know about it.

Here’s how to do it :

    1. Sign up for a website hit counter at www.onestatfree.com. You can leave a fake name and whatever URL you want (I used Google.com for mine).

    2. You will then receive a welcome email from OneStat with a text attachment called OneStatScript.txt. Download this attachment to your computer and then delete the email (you don’t want any email snoopers finding it later). But before deleting the email, write down your OneStat account number as you will need it later.

    3. Change the name of the text document to something that will make the email snooper salivate such as passwordlist. Also change the file format from a text document to a website page. So make it something like passwordlist.htm .

    4. Email this newly-renamed file as an attachment to the email account you want to monitor. Make sure the email subject title also lures the snooper in (maybe something like List of Passwords. You get the idea :).

    5. The trap is now set. Basically if someone opens the email and opens the attachment, OneStat will record a hit. If you then log into your OneStat account say once a day, you will see how many hits you have had to your attachment.

    onestat.png

The OneStat account page then gives you details on each “visitor” including the date and time they accessed the web document and more importantly their location and IP address!

onestatipaddress.png

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So how does having this information help you? Well first of all, it will alert you to change your password to something stronger. Secondly, if you see the snooper’s location and you only know one or two people there then it narrows down your list of potential suspects.

By the way, I recommended signing up for One Stat because the author of the original idea mentioned them. But if you know of any other hit counter services that send text documents to your email address, then please mention them in the comments. I don’t have any financial advantage recommending One Stat so I am perfectly happy to consider alternative companies.

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Comments (66)
  • Encryption Software

    Like most people, my email is usually petty, personal stuff. For example, I would not be the least bit hurt if someone read the latest email I sent to my brother, which included a list of potential skis to ride on this winter. Most email is irrelevant and petty interchange. However, I would not be so foolish as to send any valuable passwords and usernames over an open connection, even one as seemingly popular as Google. I would definitely encrypt the contents first so only the end user with the right encryption key could open it (and I would tell them the encryption key on the phone or some other secure line; NOT in the email).

  • kunal

    Hey that was too good
    But from the ip address how can we get the password of that person??????
    Plz help…

  • margaret

    lol, i love it , thanks i really needed this info. diffinitly trying it..

  • Bakz

    Simple app for local encryption of your emails and IM: flexcrypt.com

    Works with all email clients. Free.

  • Nan

    I meant to say” Is it illegal to send this email to someone to find out what their IP address is to compare if that’s the person that has been in your email account?

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.