Given that the majority of us store a lot of personal information in our email accounts, it’s important that we secure that information as best we can. After all, our personal email accounts hold our bank account information, login names and passwords to other services, as well as data that could lead to credit fraud and identity theft.
Many scammers and hackers have realized that email accounts offer a great opportunity to make money; they often seek out unsuspecting victims who will either turn over information easily or who don’t secure their email accounts with suitable passwords.
In order to protect your information and email accounts, you should follow a few basic steps: learn to identify potential problems, take actions to solve those problems, and practice good email etiquette. While these are relatively basic steps, you’d be surprised at how many people do not follow them. If you’re interested in learning more about email security, visit this list of tips published by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. It will have all sorts of ideas related to internet security.
Step 1: Identify Risks
Your first step in securing your email account is to identify possible risks. Begin your analysis with your password. Make sure you password does not contain any real words in it, and make sure it has a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols. Ideally, the password should be six characters or longer. Also, if possible, you shouldn’t share the same password across your most valuable accounts.
Once you’ve checked your password, next go into your email and look at the contents you’ve got. If you have anything in your email from your bank, it’s best not to let that sit for too long. Download it to your personal computer. Next check for any suspicious looking emails and make sure you don’t respond to them. Often, phishers will send an email designed to look like a bank email or a PayPal email; they hope you’ll fall for the bait and send them secure login information. Knowing exactly what accounts you have and how those organizations contact you will help you identify phishing attempts and other scams.
Step 2: Take Action
Once you’ve identified possible security risks, it’s important to take action to eliminate them. If any phishing attempts get through your filter, report them. For example, Google Mail allows you to report spam; this will help Google get better at filtering the phishing attempts before they can harm someone. You can also set up a secondary password to better secure your email. Google Mail allows you to login once, and then it will send you a text message or contact you some other way for the secondary password that verifies that you are legitimately activating the site. You can also regularly check the list of IPs that have accessed your account, which will give you an idea as to whether or not you should be suspicious of other activity on your accounts. If you are suspicious, you should immediately report the problem to your email provider, and you should also talk to your banks and other important accounts to notify them that you think your email account was compromised.
Step 3: Practice Good Email Etiquette
Finally, to protect yourself in the future, you should practice good email etiquette. Good email etiquette not only makes you a good email ‘citizen,’ but also it keeps your email activity clean and under control, which makes it easier for you to identify security risks. Furthermore, if you’re a good emailer, you have a lesser chance of forwarding a malignant email to your contacts. For example, if you get forwards, don’t fall for them! Just delete them and filter them out of your inbox to keep the clutter down.
This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online school about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics.