Although email has proven itself to be an indispensable form of communication both at work and in our personal lives, it can also be seen as a gateway for many unpleasant things. With billions of people online and using email, inboxes have become the number one target for viruses, spam, malware, hackers, and scam artists all around the world. This should make Internet security a top priority for anyone possessing an email address.
To aid you in your quest for better online security, here are some tips that are sure to make your inbox a safer place.
1. Use Multiple Email Accounts
Many people may like the perceived convenience of having all of their electronic communication flowing into a single inbox; just how convenient this turns out to be greatly depends on the amount of mail you receive and the frequency at which you check it.
For most people, inboxes have the tendency to fill up fast without logging in daily. Plus, mingling your personal mail with your work mail and whatever else you’ve signed up for can make for a messy situation.
This is why it’s better to sort your emails across multiple accounts: one for communicating with friends and family, one for work, one for signing into recreational account such as Facebook and Twitter, and one as a throwaway for promotional ads and spammy messages.
Organizing your email in this way also lowers your overall security threat since not all of your online communication will be flowing in and out of one place. In the case that one account becomes compromised, not all will be lost.
2. Protect Your Accounts with Secure Passwords
Using a one-word or easy to guess password to safeguard your emails is a cardinal sin in Internet security. Passwords should be unique by combining numbers, signs, capitalizations, punctuations, and less than exact spellings of words. A good, hard to guess password is the best defense against online intruders. Also, each account should have its own unique password.
For tips on how to create a secure password, see our post on How to Create a Secure Password.
3. Beware of Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are set up by people looking to obtain your private information, usually a login or password. They are often done by impersonating a high profile website like Amazon or Facebook, and saying that there is some problem with your account. “To fix the problem,” they’ll say, “all you have to do is [insert bogus request].”
If you ever receive an email like this, do not respond to it. You should report it as spam and delete it immediately.
4. Be Smart When Giving out Personal Information
A good rule to follow is to never exchange personal information through email. The only time you should exchange sensitive information is face-to-face or over the phone when you know the person you’re talking to.
If one of your accounts is hacked, they’ll be able to see everything you have stored up. It’s better that if you are hacked that there’s nothing of interest for them to steal.
5. Watch out for Links Sent in Emails
If an email contains a link and it was sent by someone you don’t know personally, it’s in your best interest not to click on it. You can never be sure as to where that link will take you. What you thought was a funny video or interesting article could suddenly turn into a nightmare swarm of viruses and malware.
In some cases, it may be an email from one of your service providers or your bank. Because you know that you do business with these companies you may feel safe clicking on links sent in their name, but you still shouldn’t. This could be someone posing as someone else, tricking you into a false sense of security.
The way to handle these types of emails is to manually visit their website and go from there. However, if you are not familiar with the person or organization that sent you the email, it’s best just to delete and flag it as spam if it pops up again.
6. Do Not Download Unsolicited Attachments
As in the case with a link, attachments should be met with caution. If the email was sent by someone you know or is something you were expecting, then feel free to open it. However, if you do not know who the sender is, do not download the attachment. A file that appears harmless could be a virus in disguise.
7. Use Security Software
If you get an email that seems suspicious, it’s best to run it through a security check before you open it. Security software will also keep your computer safe while browsing the Internet. Be sure to always keep your software up-to-date.
8. Be Careful with Whom You Share Your Email
Before you sign up for something by giving your email, make sure that you can trust the person or organization you’re giving it to. You don’t want to be constantly receiving a tidal wave of emails from groups and people you don’t really want to stay in contact with.
9. Be Careful on Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi can be great for quick web surfing, but logging in to online accounts can be dangerous. Hackers will sometimes run programs call “network sniffers” that monitor all of the data flowing through a particular network. That data can then be captured and analyzed for important information, such as your usernames and passwords.
This is why you should keep your time connected to a public Wi-Fi at a minimum. You never know who else is on it or if they’re tracking your data.
By following these 9 security tips, you’ll have the safest inbox on the web.