Your private data is at risk the moment you take email security for granted. But with some planning and research, protecting your email is actually fairly simple.
After a seemingly endless stream of large data breaches, maintaining security and privacy in all online activities, including email, has become increasingly important to internet users. But as you become more connected, keeping personal information secure becomes more difficult.
Work on establishing the following habits to keep your email as secure as possible:
1. Password Management
Passwords can be frustrating, but they are the first line of defense against people and bots looking to access your accounts. Many people are logged into the same email address on more than one device or multiple email addresses on the same device. This offers several points of entry for hackers to get into your email account, and managing all those passwords on all those devices is confusing.
Consider investing in a password management software. Many tech experts warn that most passwords too are weak or used too often to adequately protect an account. A password manager will create unique, strong passwords for each of your accounts. As long as you can remember a secure password for the manager, you can access the rest of them. While this is not a universal solution for email security, password managers are a useful, convenient option for many users wishing to keep their data private.
2. What You Do In Your Inbox
Use your best judgement if you are unsure of a message:
Are you expecting this message?
Do you know the sender?
Is it from a trustworthy source?
Does it look safe?
Is it crucial for you to open this email or any of its attachments?
If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, reconsider whether you should even open that email.
At best, spam messages are annoying, but at worst they could contain viruses or harmful attachments that may compromise your email account or even your entire computer. While the chances of something that extreme happening are slim, it’s not worth the risk. Just be mindful of what you do in your inbox, and immediately delete any suspicious messages without opening them.
3. Untrustworthy Apps, Websites, and Programs
Think twice before sharing your email address with other people, applications, websites, or programs. If you’re in the habit of handing out your email address at the drop of a hat, especially to untrustworthy people and websites, you never know where it will end up or who will try to access your account. Consider making a junk email account for sources you don’t know or trust and keep it separate from your important email address.
For example, many people conduct their finances online. This includes banking, paying bills, and shopping online. Technology for personal finances is convenient and accessible, but comes with its own set of risks. If your bank account is connected to your email, and a hacker accesses your email, they now have access to your bank information, which could lead to fraud or identity theft. However, by using one account for your sensitive information and another for less important or questionable sources, you add an extra layer of protection around your private data.
Protecting your data takes time and thought, but it’s absolutely worth the effort!
You can’t prevent every attack on your email account, but these simple practices can help deter a lot of hackers. And hopefully, as you spend more time thinking about it, email security will become less of a chore and more of a habit.
Tax Time Special Tip: Protect Yourself during Tax Season from Identity Theft by following the recommendations in this article Tax Identity Theft: Protecting Your Credit and Finances