Now, more than ever, it seems that email security is a major concern in our society. No one is safe from an email hack, not even a nominee for President of the United States. How can you protect both your own, as well as your professional, emails from a harmful hack undertaken by a malicious party?
Last month, the tech solutions providers at KDG outlined the ways in which your organization can protect itself from a cyber attack. One thing we barely mentioned, however, was protecting your organization against an email hack. As traditional means communication give way to digital communications, email security is very important. As this most recent election has shown us, careers can very quickly be destroyed and personal lives potentially damaged from an email security breach.
Whether you are a member of a nonprofit, small business, or higher educational institution, the tech experts at KDG have once again highlighted the ways you can better protect yourself and your digital data. While we don’t guarantee that these tips will protect your emails from Russian hackers or from Wikileaks, we do guarantee that they will do a lot to protect you from more amateur hackers and spammers.
Make Your Passwords Harder to Crack
This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but many people do not utilize best practice when it comes to password creation. A good password is not your name or even your pet’s name. It isn’t the town you grew up in or the year you were born. It isn’t the name of your high school or college. Never create a password based on the information people can easily obtain from your public Facebook profile. And never, ever use the same password for all of your web accounts and online memberships. If in the case that one password is breached, all of your personal data will be at risk.
A strong password is one that has a series of random letters, both upper and lowercase. Intermix numbers and throw in some special characters. Something so random will be nearly impossible to guess or replicate. But just in case, make sure you change your password on a regular basis, at least twice a year.
For extra security, use two-step verification. Two-step verification is a randomly generated code that will be sent to your phone. This code acts as an extra security measure in case someone who shouldn’t ends up with your password.
Beware of Phishing
Phishing scams are widespread problems that plague email users. They may appear legitimate, but they masquerade as emails from news sources, web service providers, or online retailers. Because they look real, many people are understandably fooled into sharing personal and private information.
For example, be wary if your email service provider sends you an email about changing your password through a link. Chances are high that such an email may actually be a phishing scam. When you click on the link and input your old password, the person or group on the other end may use it to hack into your email.
If your email provider or any other organization, like a retailer or bank, sends an email asking for passwords or personal information, you should call that company over the phone before you hand over any valuable information that may be harmful to your security. Let them know of the situation and have them confirm whether or not they really are the sender of the email.
Try Not to Go Public
When you are reading and sending important emails, perhaps a public network or a public computer is not the best place to do so. Try and refrain from giving out any private information while using the free wifi in a cafe, library, or other public establishment. There are numerous tools that are used to intercept connections and the private information that is passed between them. Passwords and personal information can be sold for a nice sum of money.
If you are using your own personal device, it may be in your best interest to install a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. A VPN ensures you are using a secure connection, which will make it harder for others to intercept your email password and any other information you may share over your email account.
If you are using a public computer, installing a VPN is not an option. Instead, make sure that you logout of your email account before leaving the public computer. Also, clear all of your search history, which will make it harder for anyone that uses the computer after you to access your personal information.
Encrypt Your Messages
Encrypted communications aren’t only for spies in thriller movies or action novels. You can also take a page from a secret agent and encrypt your emails so that they are harder to read for anyone who isn’t the intended recipient. This may actually be one of the best methods of protection you can undertake in regards to your email security.
When you encrypt your message, it is translated into “cipher text.” The message is changed into something that is unintelligible, or indecipherable, unless one has a secret key or password to convert the message to its easily readable plain text format.
Don’t let your emails be easy targets for hackers. If this long and crazy election cycle has taught us anything, it’s that something as seemingly small as emails can dominate discourse and cause a national controversy. You don’t want to spend your valuable time, time you could use to run your business, enroll students, and maybe even change the world, to be spent in contention over your emails.