Understanding the Basics of Email Security
The simple truth is that there are people out there that are constantly trying to get you to do something stupid. Hackers are forever sending phishing emails to get you to click on a link or image that will eventually grant them access to your email, and likely your entire computer as well.
Email serves as a gateway to many other aspects of your online identity, and can even allow hackers into your bank accounts, utilities, and other private portions of your life. Once hackers get into your personal accounts, they can literally do anything as if they were you, including spending your money, connecting with your friends, and impersonating you for work.
So, it’s extremely important that you not only take email security seriously, but that you understand the basics of it, too. Simply recognizing that your email can be a jumping off point for hackers is good, but let’s run down other important aspects of email security so you can be better armed through knowledge.
EMAIL SECURITY BEST PRACTICES FOR BUSINESSES
Businesses should get their employees to develop safe email habits. This can easily be done by creating trainings for email security that specifically speak to how to avoid common problems. Describe phishing attacks and how to recognize certain kinds of emails that are likely from unsavory persons.
A business can also set their own email security standards higher, such as requiring strong passwords that need to be changed periodically. Email encryption can also be a strong best practice for a business, and businesses should scrutinize webmail tools for working remotely. Have these kinds of discussions with the IT department or a consulting company to make sure that your business is ahead of the hackers that are trying to steal your corporate data.
Employees should also never share passwords with anyone, not even within the same company. Also, avoid accessing company email when connected to public wi-fi (these open networks are susceptible to hacker intrusion).
EMAIL SECURITY BEST PRACTICES FOR PERSONAL USERS
The big rule for keeping your own email security at a high level involves never opening emails that you think look suspicious. If the sender is someone you’ve never heard of, if the subject line doesn’t make any sense, and if you weren’t expecting the email in the first place, chances are it’s from a hacker. Do not open suspicious emails and absolutely do not click on anything or open any attachments.
You should also guard your email password, which should be a strong mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Change it often and never share it with anyone.
If you have sensitive information to send to someone about yourself, limit the information as much as possible. Some information if better discuss over the phone, such a medical information or financial information.
If you are accessing your work email remotely, then make sure that you are connecting via VPN software and not on an open network (like public wi-fi in a coffee shop).