Your hack's in the email

05:44, Jun 26 2014

An Auckland woman almost lost £10,000 - nearly $20,000 - after someone hacked her email account to divert the payment into a fake bank account.
Becky Erwood received a cheque in the mail from her financial adviser for £10,000 shortly after moving to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in September.

After numerous unanswered emails and calls, Erwood managed to get in touch with her financial adviser.

However, the adviser said Erwood had already contacted the firm asking for the cheque to be deposited in a new bank account set up under her name.
Erwood and her adviser then realised someone had hacked into her emails, taken her details, contacted her adviser and set up a new bank account using her name.
Fortunately, the adviser was able to cancel the transaction into the fake bank account before Erwood lost her £10,000.

"They had everything. They had every piece of information on me."
Erwood said she felt insecure following the hack.
"The hassle to me has been massive because I've been extremely paranoid about the information that they've had on me."
Erwood said she had probably not changed her password since she initially set up the email account but now she was more cautious about internet security and what she shared online.
"But if I'm completely honest with you, it's very difficult in the world we live in because everything is expected to happen on the internet."
Yahoo in the United Kingdom was "unbelievably unhelpful" when she approached them about the hack, she said, adding that there were not a lot of options in online security tools for consumers.
"For me the worst part was the thought that an actual person had been sending emails on my behalf."
More than half of 1000 Australians and New Zealanders surveyed admitted to having a data breach at some point, New Zealand chief technology officer for IT firm EMC Arron Patterson said.

The EMC Global Internet Privacy Index also found that 67 per cent said they did not change their passwords regularly, 45 per cent did not have any password protection on mobile devices and 28 per cent did not customise privacy settings on social media.
Almost 50 per cent of Aussies and Kiwis surveyed said they were unlikely to read online privacy statements.
The 2014 EMC Privacy Index surveyed 15,000 respondents in 15 countries to produce a ranking of nations based on consumer perceptions and attitudes about data privacy, and willingness to trade privacy for greater convenience and benefits online.

Australia and New Zealand were ranked 11 out of 15 in willingness to trade privacy for convenience.

Patterson said there was an overwhelming expectation from Kiwis that the government would look after consumers' privacy and security online.
"New Zealanders are pretty trusting."
Kiwis also expected people, governments and businesses from other countries to be as trustworthy as they perceived New Zealanders to be, he said.
However, that was not a safe way to approach the online world as more companies with online components were controlled by unknown people overseas, Patterson said.
"We encourage people to take responsibility for themselves online."
There was software to help protect businesses' online information but there was not a lot available for consumer online protection, he said.
Patterson said Kiwis could take simple measures to protect their online privacy.
Globally, about 40 per cent of people still had their passwords set to a default password or something simple like "password" or "1234", he said.
With social media, online shopping and online banking set to become an even larger part of people's lives, almost 90 per cent of New Zealanders and Australians thought it would be harder to protect their online privacy in the future, he said.
How to boost your online security:
- Change your password regularly
- Make your password a mix of upper and lower-case letters and numbers. Make sure it's something easy for you to remember but hard for someone to guess
- Avoid using names and birthdates in passwords
- Use password protection functions on mobile devices
- Turn off the geo-location function on your smartphone
- Read online privacy statements before agreeing
- Limit what you post about yourself on social media
- Customise your privacy settings on social media