Email is one of the most useful technologies created this millennium, and it’s one that virtually everyone uses. For many things you do online, there are not very many things that can be done without an email address. Do you want to send money? Open a Steam account? Sign up for Amazon.com? With all of these things and more, you would need to provide a valid email address to be able to use them properly.
However, one issue that many deals with for their emails are concerns surrounding security. But how do you even keep your Email secure?
How To Keep Your Email Secure
Be mindful of what websites you sign up for
While it’s important to sign up for some websites, you should be cautious that you do not sign up for any website that might get you in trouble or cause your email security to suffer as a result. While a lot of websites are likely going to be perfectly safe, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., be sure to check up on an unfamiliar website before you sign up for it. If that website is a malicious one (or at least poorly designed enough to make your data vulnerable), then they now have your valuable data.
Be cautious of unfamiliar emails
This is one of the most common ways for a person’s Email to be targeted, as all it requires is for the scammer to have access to your email address. Getting access to random email addresses is not a large feat, as enough data leaks of various websites have seen a large number of emails be accessible to said, scammers. Thankfully, pretty much all major email addresses have highly advanced spam filters, meaning that anything that you did not sign up for and seems suspicious will land in your spam folder.
Despite these advancements, it is important to note that it sometimes results in false positives, where a legitimate email lands in the spam folder erroneously. Not only is this a frustrating thing on its own, but it also means you have to check your spam folder and, in turn, potentially expose yourself to malicious emails.
There are certain signs of a suspicious email, for one, an email that appears to be promising something that is too good to be true. Whether it be that you won the lottery, you’re the 10,000th customer, or a humble Nigerian prince needs you to help him transfer his money. Anything to do with the money that you don’t even remotely recognize or understand should be dismissed out of hand, and even if it doesn’t, assume that there may be money introduced to the equation eventually.
You should also check to see whether they appear to be impersonating a legitimate figure or business. This may be tricky in some cases, but for a common business like, say, Amazon.com, you will be able to compare the email address used to what Amazon.com usually uses.
While such emails are often utilized to get malware and viruses onto your computer (and eventually to your contacts), a common method of targeting you is to Phish for information. By impersonating Amazon.com, for example, they may try to trick you into going to a fake version of an Amazon.com website. Once on there, it will prompt you to put your sign-in information into the forms.
The idea here is that, by putting your Email and password onto this fake website, the scammer will now have access to your actual Amazon.com account, which can cascade to more access. If you use the same password across multiple websites, they may also attempt that email/password combination elsewhere, just in case they can get access to them. If they can actually get into your Email itself, that would prove to be quite the inconvenience.
Suspicious emails from people you trust
Now, this is one area where avoiding scammers and viruses can be a trickier thing because, without a keen eye, you may not even realize that there is a scam to avoid here. What happens here is that a bad actor takes control of someone’s Email and then they use that Email to try to get access to the email addresses of other contacts. They do this using similar methods to what was discussed in the above section.
Having now gotten access to their Email, they can impersonate them and try to get you to fall for the same trick. If they manage to succeed, they will then be able to keep the scam going to other contacts as well.
Make it more difficult for them to access your Email
There are various things you can do to better protect your email address from bad actors, even beyond choosing a secure, unique password. This tactic is called two-factor authentication (2FA), which would essentially require that if someone on a new device attempts to sign in to your Email (or other 2FA-enabled accounts), they would have to go through an extra step.
One of the best ways to do this is to have your phone be that extra step, meaning they couldn’t gain access without it.