Most workplaces still rely heavily on email for communication. The reason cybercriminals target emails is because they are easy to exploit. An email address is a unique identifier for many online account logins. Phishing attacks are growing more common by the day, and if a single employee opens a malicious link in an email, a hacker could bypass all a company’s cyber defenses and get access to confidential information. Here are ten ways to protect your email privacy.
1. Don’t use your personal computer for business emails
If you work remotely, it is not a good idea to use your personal computer to send business emails. Your personal computer may not be as secure as it should be. It is possible that it might be compromised with questionable software or malware.
Employers who want to ensure all the computers their employees use are secure and protected have the option of using advanced email security solutions. Using the latest email security software can prevent phishing, malware, impersonation, and even more difficult to detect threats like display name deception and look-alike domains.
2. Use a secure password
Your first line of defense in protecting your email is the password you use. When you use a password that contains at least eight characters, mixes letters and numbers, and includes capitalization and symbols, it becomes much harder to crack.
Many hacking-related breaches still occur because people tend to use weak passwords. They will reuse the same password for multiple accounts and use personal details like a birth date. If you struggle with passwords, you can use a password generator to create strong passwords, and it will remind you to change them.
3. Use multi-factor authentication
Today hackers can even crack moderately complex passwords. Passwords aren’t always enough to keep hackers out. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a method that relies on more than a password. Even if a hacker manages to crack a password, it is not enough to access an email account.
Additional authentication methods may require you to respond to a prompt through an app on your smartphone or answer a call. The added layer of security can prevent you from falling prey to unauthorized password resets. Most email services offer two-factor authentication. After you enter a password, you have to provide a separate authentication code sent to your mobile phone.
4. Don’t open attachments you don’t trust
Before opening an attachment, you need to think about the fact that cybercriminals often use them to spread malware and viruses. Never open any unexpected attachments. Rather ask the sender what’s in an attachment before opening it. This may take extra time, but it is worth the effort. Your email provider may offer a scan for viruses when downloading an attachment, and you should never decline this.
5. Identify phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated, and it is increasingly difficult to recognize them. If you’re a target of one, an email message you receive may seem to come from a source you recognize. However, when you click a link in the email, it takes you to a fake website.
A common phishing email will claim to come from a service provider or bank you may use. It will claim there’s a problem with your account and ask you to type in your login details. You may receive an email that appears to come from the security team, and it will ask you to “update” your password.
Always approach your inbox with a critical eye. Inspect the sender’s address and try to assess the reasoning behind the request in the email. Grammatical mistakes and inconsistencies will also alert you to a scam.
Scammers are currently trying to exploit the conflict in Ukraine with phishing campaigns that prey on people’s instincts to help in a time of crisis.
6. Always check email URLs
Always inspect an URL when you get a link in an email, especially if it comes from an unfamiliar source. You will need to hover over the link with your mouse to see the URL. If the address does not contain the HTTPS extension, chances are it doesn’t lead to a safe website. Unsafe websites typically have an HTTP extension. The URL may look familiar to you. However, scammers may have replaced a single letter in the domain name to convince you it’s legitimate.
7. Avoid using public Wi-Fi
When you’re traveling or not at home, try not to use public Wi-Fi. Public computers are accessible to other people who can put keyloggers or other malware on them. Using an insecure connection could put your data at risk. You should always make sure you use a secure connection when connecting to the internet.
There are many situations where you need to give out confidential personal information, such as when you apply for online loans. Using public Wi-Fi puts your private information at risk. If you use public Wi-Fi for business purposes, you put critical business information at risk.
8. Install computer updates when they are available
You will need to regularly install updates and security patches for your operating system. For example, Microsoft ships frequent new updates for Windows. Some companies automate the process and install updates in the background, so you don’t have to. If you’re not sure whether this applies to you, check with your IT department. You need to make sure your system is always up to date with the latest improvements.
9. Explore the security tools you install
There are many apps and settings that can help you to protect your devices and your identity. To get the most protective power from them, you must understand how to use them properly. Your security suite may have components that aren’t active until you turn them on. Most antivirus tools can fend off troublesome apps that don’t really do anything beneficial, although they aren’t malware. Check the detection settings and see whether you can block them. You need to actively try out features and settings to see how you can benefit from them.