Why a criminal might want to hack into your email – CNBC

Once cybercriminals get into email accounts, they move quickly and often go unnoticed.

“Within an hour, they drain your bank account. They ship items from your stores. They try to infect your friends [on social media],” said Iluz.

Another option for cybercriminals is to sell access to hacked email accounts on the black market. “Email accounts go on the underground marketplaces for 10 to 20 times more than credit card [accounts],” Iluz said.

PerimeterX specializes in preventing attacks from malicious bots. Bots are an application programmed to do a task, such as sift through files, much faster than a human can. They can be used maliciously, such as to crack passwords, known as a brute force attack.

“Brute force is the most popular attack [against email accounts] right now,” Iluz said.

To get your email password, cybercriminals have bots guess passwords. Sometime they use lists of usernames and passwords stolen in other breaches and sold on the black market, such as those from breaches like that of Yahoo.

“Consider this ammunition,” said Iluz. “It can take hours, it can take days, but eventually [a hacker] will be successful. He will be able to enter and take over thousands of accounts.”

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