In today’s world, it is virtually impossible to get any work done without an email address. This method of communication helps to save time, effort and has revolutionized the way we carry out professional correspondences and even personal interactions. Through emails, people can have direct and comprehensive communication when a face-to-face interaction is not possible. As a matter of fact, the mail is one of the most used communications tools in the world of business. Did you know that approximately 95% of business communications in the United States are done via email?
This method of communication is swift and economical. Emails are typically received by recipients within minutes. One can send text as well as media, such as images, documents and spreadsheets with great ease through email.
However, convenient and user-friendly as it may be, email is also one of the most vulnerable. All too often, one hears about email addresses getting hacked, important – and often confidential – data getting stolen, passwords getting leaked, and so on. Basically, private and personal information falling into the wrong hands is one of the world’s biggest cybersecurity threats today. This article on the website of Keepnet Labs lists out some of the most common email security risks that every user faces.
In this blog, we explain some of the ways in which you can keep your email safe from getting compromised:
1. Encrypt your emails
Sending and receiving files that are sensitive or confidential always comes with a certain, even if infinitesimal, amount of risk. Since emails are transmitted between servers and because they are mostly textual, they are not very secure. You can encrypt Gmail attachments using an encryption software so that they cannot be intercepted by anyone while the email is enroute to the receiver. Having emails encrypted is an effective way that you can keep them secure.
2. Keep an eye out for suspicious emails
Being observant and alert will go a long way in helping to keep your email safe from attackers. Very often, hackers and phishers will leave telltale indicators, such as grammatically incorrect English, typographical errors, offers that seem too good to be true, or even facts that do not make any logical sense. It is important to keep these in mind before reacting to such emails or parting with sensitive information.
3. Be cautious while downloading attachments
Media files that come as attachments in emails are often used by hackers and scammers to plant viruses and other malware in. Legitimate institutions will generally not send you emails randomly with attachments. Rather, they will direct you to their own website where you will have the choice whether to download or not. It is therefore advisable that you do not download email attachments unless you are sure that they have come from a trusted source. Better still, perform a scan of attachments to make sure they do not contain viruses or other malware.
4. Enable two-factor authentication
While it may not seem that obvious, two-factor authentication is a simple yet highly effective way to keep your emails secure. Two-factor authentication is essentially a security measure that provides an additional layer of protection, which generally involves using a password as well as a second verification step, such as a security question or a one-time code that is sent as a text message to your mobile phone. There are various methods of authentication and some are more secure than others.
5. Use strong passwords
Even though everyone talks about this and preaches to others about the importance of having strong passwords that are difficult to crack, most of us tend to apply passwords that are easy to remember. Avoid using the same password for different applications and services, and try to use words and phrases that are not obvious or predictable. The more random and obscure the choices of letters and numbers, the stronger the password will be.
Passwords that contain a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols are stronger as they are difficult to crack. Also, the longer the password, the stronger it is. It is also recommended that you change your passwords from time to time.
6. Watch out for phishing
Phishing attacks are quite different from common hacking attacks. Phishing is when an attacker contacts a recipient impersonating a real and legitimate institution with the objective of extracting sensitive or confidential information or threatening to infect the recipient’s computer or mobile device with malicious content, such as ransomware or a virus.
Phishing emails are typically ones that sound too good to be true, or which send the recipient into panic mode (such as an email saying that their credit card is blocked, or that they have just won a million dollars). They will usually ask for credit card information, account details or login credentials, and it is important to verify the source because legitimate institutions will never ask for sensitive information to be sent via email.
From individual email accounts to those of large organizations, the importance of security measures applies equally to all. Keeping our email safe is not often the first thing we think about in our everyday lives, but with a few simple and effective security practices in place, we can keep our email safe from attackers.