Old internet accounts that you’ve forgotten about and don’t use anymore could be putting your personal information at risk. We’re going to look at how this could happen, and show you how you can delete these so-called ‘zombie’ accounts.
Think about all of those free trials that you’ve signed up to in the past. The fitness app you downloaded years ago. You probably have dozens of dormant accounts that you can’t even remember opening, and all of this online activity creates a large amount of digital clutter.
Whilst you might not use these accounts anymore, there’s always a possibility that the website or app could get hacked. The chances of this happening are increased if the company is now closed, or if the developers are no longer updating the site. This means that your personal details—including your email address, password and physical address—could be exposed to fraudsters.
You can find out if any of your online accounts have been compromised by entering your email address into the website ‘Have I Been Pwned?’.
What Could Happen to My Exposed Data?
If your personal information gets exposed, it could be “pasted” to publicly facing websites such as Pastebin, which are designed to share and store text online. Due to the ease of anonymity associated with these sites, they’re often one of the first places where breaches appear.
Once hackers get their hands on your email addresses and corresponding passwords, they could use the details to try and log into other accounts. They might do this so they can spend money using the account, or for something even more sinister—identity theft. This is one of many reasons why you should use a password manager to create unique passwords for all of your accounts (something that we offer here at ICT Solutions).
Hackers may also try and extort money from victims by sending an email with an old, compromised password in the subject line. The email will typically contain generic text alleging that the hacker has gained access to the person’s webcam, and filmed them ‘getting up to no good’—all because they have access to their personal details. Usually, the hacker tries to blackmail the person into paying a ransom using cryptocurrency, so that they won’t share this supposed ‘video’ with their friends and family.
Unfortunately, a lot of people fall for this kind of scam, losing hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of pounds in the process.
How to Close Your Accounts
Sift through your email – Firstly, you need to try and track down which accounts you have opened in the past. The best way to do this is to search ‘sign up’ or ‘email confirmation’ in your email account, and try and trace all of the disused accounts that you want to delete. It might be time consuming, but it’s definitely worth it.
Find the correct links to help you delete the accounts – Tracing the old accounts is fairly easy, but actually closing them can be tricky. The website JustDelete.Me acts as a directory, hosting links to the account cancellation pages of various online web services. All you need to do is click on a link and sign in – from that point, you should hopefully be able to deactivate your account permanently.
ICT Solutions Can Help
Hopefully this has made you aware of the risks of having too much digital clutter, and given you guidance on how to close your old accounts.
If you’d like to hear more about ICT Solutions’ Cyber Security Services, then please get in touch. From password management to anti-spam software, our Liverpool-based team knows what it takes to keep you and your business safe online.