Most of us use email all day, every day, for both work and personal reasons. This means there’s a huge amount of data flowing across the country and the globe daily.
Hackers continually look for ways to break into email accounts to cause havoc, steal information, hold accounts and details to ransom, and otherwise cause problems for account owners. We must all be vigilant about email security, then. It’s vital to take simple yet effective steps to keep cybercriminals at bay.
Use Comprehensive Security Software
The first step in protecting your emails is downloading and installing comprehensive security software for the devices you use to log into your accounts. Purchase software that’s comprehensive enough to cover against a myriad of threats, including viruses, spam, spyware, and ransomware.
If you wonder, ‘what is ransomware?’ it pays to learn more about this specific type of threat since it’s a prevalent one. Basically, it involves cybercriminals breaking into devices or accounts and deleting or holding information hostage until they’re paid a ransom. Users get locked out of their own accounts or have the threat of personal information going public if they don’t pay up.
The security software you use should be a quality product that protects you when you perform functions online and blocks phishing emails and applications devised to steal data. The program should block harmful websites, too, plus send you real-time threat alerts if a hacker tries to break in.
Choose Solid Passwords for Accounts and Devices
It’s also crucial to put passwords in place to stop those with nefarious aims from breaking into your email account. Choose solid, hard-to-crack codes and use them on your email account plus your computers, smartphones, modem, and other accounts you log into online. Keep in mind that if cybercriminals can hack into one account or device, they can often break into other accounts, such as your email, from there.
It’s wise to use different passwords across devices and logins, and change up your codes every few months or so. Plus, choose passwords made up of at least eight characters and a mixture of letters (upper-case and lower-case), symbols, and numbers. Don’t use codes based on details you’ve shared online, either, such as your birthdate or pet or child names.
Avoid Using Emails on Public Wi-Fi
To stay safer from a hacker attack, be careful where you log into your emails. For instance, where possible, avoid using your email account on unsecured public Wi-Fi. On these platforms, you never know who might be watching. Cybercriminals often compromise these networks as a means of watching user activity and finding ways into people’s systems and accounts.
If you must use public internet while you’re away for vacation or work, at least log out of your account before you step away from the computer. Also, cover your keyboard as much as possible as you type in case there’s a camera set up nearby or malware on the device recording keystrokes.
Don’t Open Emails Indiscriminately
You can protect yourself better if you don’t open emails indiscriminately. Many hackers send victims malware-infected communications or those with virus-ridden attachments or links and use this to break in. As such, if you open or click on the wrong thing, you might be giving a cybercriminal easy access to your account. Avoid putting yourself at risk by always checking the addresses on emails before you open them to ensure you know the person or expect the message.
Also, pay attention to potential red flags. For example, emails might purport to come from well-known organizations such as banks, telecommunications providers, and utility services. However, in reality, they’re only made to look that way by hackers. If you spot issues such as strange email addresses, dodgy logos, lots of incorrect spelling, strange message headers, language that seems unusual for the company, and so on, the message might be a fake.
Always Run the Latest Versions of Programs
Upgrade software as soon as new versions become available. Developers find and plug security gaps in their programs and release new editions once the work is complete. If you’re running old software, though, you’re more vulnerable to an attack, as hackers know where gaps have opened up and may exploit them.
Watch out for update alerts on devices. Always run the latest offerings of email software, security programs, firewalls, operating systems, browsers, games, plugins, software-as-a-source tools, etc. To avoid forgetting to install new versions, set programs to update automatically.
Being hacked is a real and frightening risk we all need to mitigate. However, doing so doesn’t need to be stressful or too time-consuming. As you can see, there are multiple simple yet effective steps you can take to keep hackers at bay today.