A new report, released by UK General Insurance and Cyber Aware UK, has revealed that 79% of Brits keep emails stored in their inboxes, these emails could be at risk of hackers looking to steal their ID and financial information. Cyber Aware is warning the public to use a strong separate password for their main email account.

The report detailed how 51% of the public are holding on to e-receipts, which can reveal purchase history. It also stated that 34% of people keep sensitive messages from loved ones and 35% of people store personal photos of friends and family. This type of sensitive information can be very useful to cybercriminals, warns Cyber Aware. It can be used to create targeted phishing emails and steal our financial information.

In addition to Brits keeping hold of potentially revealing emails, we are also failing to ensure our email passwords are adequately secure. Many of us are using personal information such as our children’s or pets names within our passwords, something which is highly risky. The report also uncovered that 30% of British people surveyed said they used the same password for their email account as other online accounts, once a hacker discovers this they could have access to all our online information.

In a statement, Detective Superintendent Andrew Gould from the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Just imagine someone posing as you and the reputational, emotional and financial damage it could do to you and your loved ones. The Cyber Aware campaign wants to make people really think about the value of our inboxes and treat them in the same way we treat treasured possessions in the offline world, by taking the simple step of having  a strong and separate email password, by using three random words and adding special characters and numbers to make it stronger. For an added layer of protection we recommend using two-factor authentication on your email  account, if available. This means your account can only be accessed with a device you have already registered.”

With Cybercrime on the rise and so many people being targeted through sophisticated scams it is important to do everything we can to keep ourselves safe online. To help us protect our private and personal information from being exposed to hackers, Cyber Aware has released the following tips:

  • Use a strong, separate password for your email
  • A good way to create a strong and memorable password is to use three random words. Numbers and symbols can be used to make it stronger
  • Use words which are memorable to you, but not easy for other people to guess. Don’t use words such as your child’s name or favourite sports team which are easy for people to guess by looking at your social media accounts or simple substitutions like ‘Pa55word!’
  • When available you should use two-factor authentication (2FA) on your email account. It gives it extra layer of security, as it means your account can only be accessed on a device that you have already registered
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi to transfer sensitive information such as card details
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