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What’s the worst that could happen if someone gains access to your email account?You may think not much — maybe a few spam emails will be sent from your account, but once you change your password, it’ll be over, right?Actually, your email account is probably the worst online account that can be hacked. Once someone gains access to your email account, it’s an easy enough process to use your email to reset your passwords to any other account on the web, from social media profiles to bank accounts.And hackers and thieves aren’t the only ones trying to break into your personal messages.In 1986, the US government passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Among other things, it defined email stored on a server for more than 180 days “abandoned.” Thus, all law enforcement agencies had to do to access it was provide a written statement saying that it was necessary for an investigation. This was before most people had ever heard of email. And this is still the law three decades later.But this may change. In late April 2016, the House of Representatives voted 419-0 for the Email Privacy Act, which would require that the government get a warrant before accessing Americans’ email. But even if it becomes law, there are still many other concerns.If you’ve ever read your personal email at work (And let’s be honest, who hasn’t?) chances are your employer could be snooping around in your inbox right along with you. Do you really want to risk your boss finding out about your new job search, your medical history, or your opinions of their management style?Your email provider may also access your emails under certain circumstances and share them with authorities.Having a strong unique password is an important first step, but it may not be enough to keep your email completely safe from spying.
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