E-mail Security Tips

Free email services like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc, are valuable services that give us a great way to stay in touch with family, friends and even do business. Used well, these services can be very rewarding; used carelessly they could be very damaging. I have witnessed a few instances where someone’s email account got hacked only to have junk mail sent to all of the people on their contact list. This can be very embarrassing as you can imagine depending on the nature of e-mail the spammer decides to send out. Not only that, though it’s not recommended, there have been instances where some people kept files containing important information, risking identity theft in the process. Needless to say, e-mail security becomes a priority if one intends to keep using free email services with fewer headaches. So, here are a few tips to help you keep your inbox secure:

  1. Set a password that is difficult to figure out. Do not use the name of your pet, or anything that might be easy for someone to figure out. With all the personal information that is floating around in our online social networks, the chances are that someone can get a pretty good guess of a password that’s based on things you are attached to, so keep it random and make yourself some little clues that with help you remember that password. It’s also a good idea to change your password every once in a while.
  2. Do not keep any emails, especially in a free email service account, which contain your personal information. This prevents further damage in case someone manages to get into your account. This point goes beyond e-mail security and leans more towards identity theft prevention. It’s just good security conscience to not keep personal information where it can be easily compromised. E-mails are not secure enough to handle such sensitive information, which is why the Government and Financial Institutions do not use them to communicate sensitive matters.
  3. Scan your computer for spyware on a regular basis. Spyware is malicious software that is used to secretly collect information about the user. For example, there is something called a Keylogger that is used to record the user’s key strokes and from which personal information like passwords, account numbers, social security numbers could be collected by identity thieves without the user’s knowledge. Keyloggers can be in the form of software or hardware. Some companies use them to see how employees are using work computers etc, so they can know how often someone visits facebook and whether or not they’re are using up work time browsing the web. Anyway, that is beside the point, if you own a personal computer, you want to make sure that you don’t have spyware like Keyloggers that could be stealing your personal information.
  4. Make sure you have good security encryption if you are going to connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot.  With no encryption, your activity can be visible to others. If a wireless device has no firewall protection, it can be easily accessed through the network and all the information on it can be available to the hacker. If you are going to login to your e-mail using a public network at least check to see if the website you are logging into is secure. You will know that the login is encrypted if it uses “https” instead of “http” in the address bar. Set your firewall to block incoming connections when you are using public Wi-Fi. This prevents access to your computer through the network.

The last thing I want to add is always ask to see a privacy policy before using an internet café. Most people own a personal computer these days so this may not be much of a concern, but for those who don’t – you want to make sure that the computer you are using is not rigged with a Keylogger and that you can fight back if your privacy is violated. Reading the café’s privacy policy lets you know what your rights are in case things go wrong. If there is no privacy policy, then you naturally assume the risk of your personal information being compromised.

What To Do If Your Email Account  Gets Hacked

In the event that someone manages to hack into your account, the first thing you want to do is change the password. Find a password that is harder to figure out, which includes letters, numbers and symbols. If your account is fairly new, it may not be a bad idea to abandon that account and start fresh with all the above email security tips in mind. I hope you found this information useful.

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