The CYSED Dictionary: Email

The CYSED Dictionary: Email

By Daniel Iwugo

Word: Email (ē-māl), variant of the word e-mail

Definition: According to Merriam Webster, Email is a means or system for transmitting messages electronically (as between computers on a network).

Quick History Lesson:

  • The first electronic mail system was created by Ray Tomlinson in 1971, using CPYNET. He came up with the idea of the @ symbol.

  • In 1976, Queen Elizabeth was the first monarch to send an email, increasing the tech’s popularity.

  • In the 1980’s, the World Wide Web was developed, and the first email software, Lotus Notes, was released.

  • Gmail, the most popular email service today, was released in 2004.

Notable Cyberattacks:

  • In 1978, Gary Thuerk carried out a marketing campaign via electronic mail. The email was sent to 400 email addresses on ARPANET, and is considered the first-ever spam email.

  • The infamous ‘ILOVEYOU’ worm was released in 2000, infecting approximately 10 million computers worldwide. The worm was spread via a Visual Basic script, attached to an email. Once the victim opened the attached script, duplicates of the email were sent to all contacts, and the hard disk got corrupted.

  • From 2013 to 2015, Evaldas Rimasauskas stole over $120 milion (about ₦94 billion) from Facebook and Google via a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scheme. He and his accomplices impersonated a company based in Taiwan, and sent emails containing fake invoices which charged the victims. Evaldas got 60 months prison time, paid $76 million, plus 2 years of supervised release.

  • In 2021, the Nigerian cybercriminal, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, infamously known by the alias ‘Hushpuppi’ was sentenced to prison for 135 months for fraud. Hushpuppi used his social engineering skills to commit money laundering via BEC schemes and other fraud channels. In addition to his prison time, he was ordered to pay $1.7 million (about ₦1.3 billion) as restitution.

Tips for email security:

  • Never open an email from someone you don’t know

  • Look for red flags such as typos, unusual email addresses and links

  • Keep emails strictly professional and minimize sharing personal information

  • Verify unusual requests via another channel such as a phone call

  • Use a strong password/passphrase

  • Install Antivirus Software

  • Use a spam filter and enable 2-factor authentication

  • And keep up with the latest cybersecurity tips on CYSED (Sorry, had to sneak it in 😉)