We all use emails in our everyday lives. However, most people give little thought to the dangers that email can pose to their security. From the Sarah Palin email hack to the Sonny hack, emails are not as safe as we thought they were. Through them you are made vulnerable to phishing, viruses, malware, and a variety of new and ever-changing hacking techniques.
Here are a few essential steps that you can take that will help you stay safe while using emails:
A unique password
Having a strong password is extremely important. It shouldn’t contain the names of anyone you know, or dates that are important to you. Make sure it is unique. Otherwise, someone might guess it after enough tries. On the same note, when you’re asked to change your password, don’t use an old one. You can also learn from Palin’s case and make sure that the information needed to restore your password is not easily available online.
Keep your eyes open
We know it may sound a little paranoid, but if you’re in a public place or even at work, make sure that no one can see you typing your password. Someone might pass by and see your password or film you typing it.
Web-based emails are extremely convenient because you can use them everywhere. But if you’re not using your own computer don’t forget to log out. If you are using your own computer, make sure that your browser is always updated for maximal security.
Some spam emails are more harmful than others. If you receive an email that you have won the lottery or that a friend or family member is in a different country and lost their passport, do not reply. The email is designed to try to steal information about you and/or your bank account. The general rule is: don’t answer suspicious emails.
Secure your computer
Make sure that your computer has the best antivirus and malware scanners available – and always keep them updated. For example, our top-rated antivirus program, McAfee offers a strong spam filter to block phishing emails, and a site advisor that warns you when you click on links to dangerous sites. Most good antivirus software will protect your computer if you accidently open a malicious file, or will scan a downloaded file before you open it to ensure it is safe.
Never follow links
If you receive an email that your bank account, Facebook, or any other site that requires your information has been compromised, beware. And most importantly, do not click on the sent link. The linked site will look just like the original site, but it is a phishing scam. If you enter with your username and password, your bank account will be emptied before you know it, or your identity could be stolen. The best policy in these situations is to visit the site in question directly, and not via the supplied link.
Don’t use public Wi-Fi
Free public Wi-Fi is great for browsing. It’s not great when you need to use anything with a password. Hackers can use the same network and steal the information that you used to log-in by using malicious programs. So avoid using your email while on a Wi-Fi network other than your own.