Emails are now a ubiquitous communication form as natural to many of us as in-person chats or phone calls. Whether for work or personal situations, or both, millions of people across the globe use emails each day to stay in touch, complete tasks, learn necessary information, and otherwise connect.
No matter how much you use your email account, but especially if you’re a regular user, it’s vital to protect your emails from prying eyes. Cybercriminals are always searching for security gaps so they can break into emails and steal sensitive data, ransom information or generally cause havoc. To avoid being held hostage in any way to a hacker’s whims, you must follow strategies to prevent your email account from being exposed.
Use Security Software and Firewalls
Protect your emails and the sensitive information within them by using security software and firewalls on the computer(s) you use to login to your account. Opt for comprehensive internet security products that protect against a raft of threats, which will help stop hackers from breaking into your networks and getting to your emails from there. The security software you purchase should cover you against viruses, spam, spyware, ransomware and other malware. It should also block phishing emails.
Also, make use of a firewall on your computer. Firewalls come pre-installed on most computers automatically these days, which means you shouldn’t have to purchase an additional product. Do check the settings to make sure the firewall has been activated, though, as this isn’t a given. Firewalls are handy because they provide another layer of protection against hackers and focus on blocking incoming threats via an internet connection.
Don’t Open Emails Carelessly
Don’t open emails carelessly, regardless of how busy you may be. Since cybercriminals often send out messages infected with viruses or malware, or with attachments or links that are similarly dodgy, you must only open emails from trusted and genuine sources.
One hacker tactic is to create emails seeming to be from well-known organizations, such as banks and telecommunications companies. Hackers replicate company logos and headers to trick consumers. People open emails thinking they’ve received a message from someone they regularly deal with and may respond with personal details or click on a link and input login information. This leaves them exposed.
Avoid this situation and stop hackers from gaining your email logins and other personal details by checking the email address messages come from. Only open missives sent from proper domains. Don’t open attachments or click on links unless you’re sure of the source, too. Also, never login to any accounts by getting to websites via a link. Instead, always type in a web address yourself, so you know you’re going to the real site and not a hacker’s mirror one.
Update Software Programs
Another way to protect email accounts is to keep all software on your computers up to date. Do this for the security software and firewalls you use, plus email account software, operating systems, browsers, plugins, apps, games and more. Set up software programs to automatically update, too, so whenever new editions become available, you don’t have to remember to make changes manually.
Developers constantly keep an eye on their products to see if security gaps open up that hackers might take advantage of. When they spot security risks, the developers create updates to plug the gaps. As a result, you must run the latest versions of programs to stay safe.
Create Decent Passwords
You won’t be able to keep hackers out of your email account if you don’t use decent passwords for your login. Proper codes are twelve or more characters in length and made up of a mixture of symbols, numbers and upper-case and lower-case letters. Never use common words like “password” or the numbers “123456” as these are the first things cybercriminals try out.
Also avoid using codes relating to any kind of information you’ve shared publicly, like your favorite color or numbers, the names of your children, partner or pets or your birth date. It’s also wise to make the password for your email account different than the codes you use elsewhere. This way, if your password is exposed at another login site, your email won’t be at risk too.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Try not to access your emails on public Wi-Fi unless you really need to. Unsecure internet like this is more vulnerable to hacker attacks. If you must use your email system on public internet connections, at least check that you’ve logged out of emails before you leave the computer, and avoid mentioning any financial or other sensitive identity-based details until you can send a message on a more secure offering.
Emails are such a vital part of everyday communications that you never want to have yours compromised. As long as you take steps to stay safe, you should avoid being attacked and keep hackers at bay today and into the future.