Find Out How Much Your Email Is Worth To Hackers - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Find Out How Much Your Email Is Worth To Hackers

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What is your email account worth to hackers? There's a new tool that can help you find out.

The website sifts through your emails for passwords that could open the door to other accounts.

Cloudsweeper was developed by researchers at the University of Illinois, Chicago and it's aimed at helping you see just how valuable your email account is to hackers by detecting things like passwords in emails.

Right now it only works with Gmail accounts, but the researchers are looking to add other free email accounts to the system.

Gmail user Melissa Coulston admits she may have some password recovery emails she never deleted.

"I have had one of my Gmail accounts for almost 10 years, so who knows what I did 10 years ago."

She says Cloudsweeper opens her eyes to how easy it is for hackers to find content in your emails. The site also designates an actual dollar amount that hackers would pay for your account.

Researches base the values on actual underground prices and they've found if your email is linked to shopping sites like Amazon or iTunes, it's worth a lot more.

"It's kind of interesting that people's email accounts have now become a commodity, and there's a black market so to speak of account selling that goes on," said Kevin Hodges, in the IT Department at USC Upstate.

We asked: Is there a way to beat the hackers at their own game?

"There's a way to even the playing field a little bit," he said.

Cloudsweeper helps achieve that by allowing you to either erase or encrypt what it finds.

Hodges also says you should use "two factor authentication" that requires hackers to have both your cell phone and email password.

With a decade worth of emails, Coulston says Cloudsweeper performs a crucial task that would be virtually impossible to do on her own.

"It's very helpful for it to pull out exactly the questionable material and the unsafe things that I have in my email and then I can quickly deal with it."

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