How to Keep Your Email Secure
- Tracy East
September 20, 2013
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As email becomes more and more our primary method of communication, email security is on the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. Keeping your email secure is pretty easy, however, as long as you obey a few basic rules.
DO NOT’s of Email Security
- DO NOT click on links soliciting you for a password for the sole purpose of “verifying” your account.
- DO NOT load the images contained in an email unless you are sure of the recipient. By loading these images, you verify that your email address is valid for the sender.
- DO NOT submit personally identifying data through email. This includes but not limited to bank account numbers, Social Security number, full birthday, driver’s license number, credit card numbers, etc.
- DO NOT use generic, easy-to-Google security questions. If your email provider prompts you to create security questions, use obscure answers that only you would know. For example, questions like, “The street you grew up on,” and “Your maternal grandfather’s first name,” are all searchable queries. A determined hacker could definitely get in. Think of more abstract questions and answers that are still memorable for you. Blogger Danah Boyd created a smart algorithm for creating safe answers to security questions so that you can remember them.
- DO NOT indiscriminately click on “Remember me on this computer,” or “Remember password.” Evaluate the environment. If anyone has unmonitored access to your computer besides you, do not store the passwords in the computer.
DO’s of Email Security
- DO look at the URL bar to verify the address is correct when you follow links. The name before the .net or .com (called the domain name) is the only element that matters. If it has extraneous dashes, it is a different name all together. Hackers will be clever and purchase domain names like bank-verify.com or cesi-password.com. When in doubt, go to the MAIN website and follow links on that or contact customer service for whatever organization you have received the suspect email from.
- DO use a virus scanner in addition to built-in protections that your email provider may give. Free virus scanners are available from AVG Antivirus and Avast . These programs do have paid versions, but the protection of the free versions are definitely sufficient. Simply close the ads when prompted to upgrade if you choose to do so.
- DO use a secure password and change it frequently.
- DO use a separate password for your email account than you use for everything else. When using this method, if one account gets compromised, it doesn’t necessarily mean all your accounts are compromised.
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