Email is a crucial application in today’s world. It is just as important for personal reasons as it is for business. It is essential in communicating with other people, signing up for events, managing memberships and a host of other reasons. But, email also has security issues if it is not properly protected. A compromised email box can be a security nightmare for an individual or a business. There is so much information in an email box that can wreak havoc if it falls into the wrong hands. But, there are some simple steps anyone can take to make sure their email box is safe from hackers and nefarious individuals.
Use Strong Passwords
You would be surprised how many people use simple, predictable passwords. At times, they are laughable. You do not want to be one of the people using simple passwords because you are just asking for your account to be hacked. Spend a few minutes thinking of a good password. Try to mix it with letters, numbers and special characters. Go a step further and use different passwords for each account that you have. You can use a password manager like Lastpass or Roboform to keep track of all the different websites. Just be sure you set a strong password to those programs as well.
Many emails are offering two-factor authentication as well. Strongly consider this as an options. It is one more step you have to go through to get into your email, but it greatly increases the strength of your password. The way it works, is you will have to enter your usual password. But, then the second step is to identify the actual person entering the password. This is typically done using a token. This is a random number that is generated every 30 seconds to two minutes. Typically these tokens are received in an app on a phone, a text message or a specialized piece of hardware.
Use Different Email Accounts
It may be a good idea to use different email accounts for different areas of your life. Create one for your personal life and one for your work life at the very least. This will keep mail from all different newsletters, friends, coworkers, etc getting comingled inside one email account. Then if the account does get compromised they will have keys to all areas of your life. Having different email accounts can, at the very least, minimize the impact if one of your accounts is taken over.
Be Careful with Links and Attachments
Viruses, malware and spyware can be spread using links and attachments in emails. If you become infected with one of these, you can become a spreader of the virus. But, you can also have your private information exposed to the person distributing the bug. Therefore, it is a good ideas to not click on links or open attachments unless the email is from someone you know and you know they are sending something. Just because you know them does not mean anything because they could be infected and sending you something that is meant to harm. If you receive an email from someone with a link or attachment, follow up with them and make sure they intended to send it.