Email security is paramount in today’s information age. If you are aware of the different ways in which hackers gain access to your email accounts, you need to be proactive about how you protect yourself.
If an outside entity finds a serious breach of security, your email account can be suspended and you may be subject to legal action. However, there are many preventative measures you can take to help ensure you do not have to face such issues. The following tips will outline the most important steps you can take.
Use strong passwords. Always use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters to create your password. One of the reasons that passwords are so much weaker than they used to be is that online users tend to use some form of “guessing” method. It’s simple to use information available on the web as a starting point and work backwards to construct a clever password.
Don’t use your birth date or pet’s name. Use at least a six-character password that is easy to remember but difficult to guess. It is also a good idea to choose a password that has enough flexibility to be changed if necessary.
Emails should never be sent through instant messaging software such as MSN Messenger or Google Talk. Any communication should be protected by either a proxy server or a regular firewall.
After you have set up a password and set up the passwords of everyone in your address book, set up two-factor authentication with Google Authenticator. This is a free application for Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari. This allows you to set up your email account and change passwords that are sent from an unknown sender by a one-time code.
If you do not already have one, consider using PGP encrypted email, which is the same technology used by some of the most expensive webmail providers. There are many security features in email security that make it hard for a hacker to find a way into your account. Since so many computer users send and receive emails without a second thought, it’s surprising that many don’t use some form of email security.
When you send emails to a friend, make sure you know what computer they are using before you send them files. You may not know their password, but you can usually guess it based on their other activities, such as visiting certain sites, using Microsoft Word.
All your emails should be unclassified; this means that they are unencrypted. If they are sent encrypted, you have no way of knowing if they were really sent from your account or another account that has been compromised.
Always be aware of who you give your passwords to. While most people have their email accounts password-protected, it’s possible that you may have shared your account with other people.
If you are not already an early investor in cyber security, be sure to invest in some high-grade software and hardware that will help you protect your money online. There are several reliable antivirus programs that will protect your computer against viruses, spyware and Trojans. If you are not sure which program to buy, you can always take advantage of the free trial offered by many companies that offer email security and the internet in general.
In short, stay safe and be smart, and you can keep your money and business data secure. Take charge of your own safety and ensure the highest level of security on your email accounts, both now and into the future.