10 important email security tips you should keep in mind

Admin - 21 Mar 2021

10 important email security tips you should keep in mind

Cybersecurity is a term that we all know to be important, but it often goes ignored when we fool ourselves into believing that "it won't happen to us." In fact, anyone with an email address is highly susceptible to being exposed to cyberattacks.

According to an article published by Security Magazine, 1 in 50 emails includes some type of malicious content. Digital Trends estimates that 10% of all compromised emails contain malware such as trojans, ransomware, spyware, or adware.

We send and receive emails everyday, that's why the inbox is a good place to start when building a cybersecurity strategy. Be responsible and inform yourself of safe email practices so you can prevent hackers and avoid being a victim of security threats.

Below is a list of simple yet essential security tips you should always keep in mind to keep your email address as safe and secure as possible.

Choose unique and strong passwords

Secure passwords are impossible to guess without previous insight. Hackers use specific password-guessing software that runs through millions of combinations – the more complexity the password has, the more time it takes for the software to decode it. Using a password manager such as LastPass or 1Password is an excellent way to make and securely store highly unique passwords.

Strengthen your password with these tips:

  • Use numbers and special characters
  • Use random numbers and letters rather than words
  • Use upper and lower case letters
  • Avoid common letter-number substitutions
  • Think in terms of phrases instead of words
  • Never use your hometown, school, university, birthday, or company name

Use two-factor authentication

Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) on your email account is a great way to add an extra layer of security to your inbox. Most of email clients have the 2FA option built-in, so you can simply enable it. Think of moving to a new cloud email provider if the option is not available to you.

2FA is one of the smartest safeguards you can implement to protect your email account (or any other web application) from a data breach. It works with virtually any cloud service you might be using, including Google and password managers such as 1Password or LastPass.

2FA is a great data loss prevention method, as it makes hacking much more difficult for cybercriminals and those who want to snoop through your emails. Even if a hacker manages to acquire the password to your account, 2FA will block them by requiring a code texted to your phone, sending to your Google Authentication or Authy app.

Stay away from phishing emails

We've written about phishing emails before and how important it is to keep your eyes peeled for suspicious emails. Phishing is a popular method used by hackers to take advantage of a recipient. These emails can goad recipients into sending the hacker their personal information or money.

These are some ways you can keep your email account secure from phishing attacks:

  • Avoid public WiFi
  • Watch out for bad grammar
  • Establish a VPN (such as Encrypt.me, ExpressVPN, or CyberGhost)
  • Undergo security awareness training

The best way to stay ahead of the game is to keep yourself up to date on current phishing techniques and the best defenses against them. Knowledge is power, and in this case, that power can be invaluable to your company or yourself, so use it wisely.

While the scammers of the internet may be crafty, you can always stay one step ahead. Be logical, be smart, and be sensible when it comes to questionable messages or links. Doing so can go a long way in keeping your personal or business information private and safe.

Open unexpected attached files only after scanning

Sometimes you'll receive phishing emails that contain file attachments. If an unknown source specifically tells you to open a file attachment, you can likely bet that there is something malicious going on.

For sure, you might come across some emails from a sender you don't know personally that might be genuine. This is why it's essential to implement antivirus email security software and anti-malware to scan all attached files so you know immediately if they're safe to open. We recommend using Malwarebytes.

If the software indicates malicious content, you can block the sender, even send him to the blacklist, delete the message, and keep your system secure. This simple implementation can prevent a subsequent data breach.

Scan all emails for malware and viruses

In the same way that you should scan all email attachments before opening them, you should make sure your messages are scanned as well. The antivirus software we mentioned earlier covers your general emails as well.

The top screening software options check messages for vulnerabilities as they arrive in your inbox and will alert you of any concerns. The software will usually quarantine affected emails before it causes damage to your security status.

If you use a well-known email client, you'll find they follow the same cloud security procedures and will let you know if there's anything to worry about it.

Use different email accounts

There's strength in numbers. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, or all your emails in one inbox. There's always a chance that someone might break into your email, and if you only have one, you'll lose access to everything.

Maintaining multiple email accounts helps boost your security by allocating different types of messages in several places, instead of one central hub. That way, if there's a security breach, you have other accounts to fall back on and you won't be locked out of everything you have access to.

Your productivity will be improved by having separate email accounts, too. Placing your emails into separate accounts for work, personal, and more helps you stay focused and track down messages easier.

Do not access emails from public WiFi

Avoid checking your email when you're on public WiFi, such as when you're at airport, a coffee shop, or city park. It can be tempting to want to be connected everywhere you go, but unfortunately, public WiFi can be extremely insecure.

Hackers use softwares called "network sniffers" that monitor all of the wireless data flowing through a specific network, and then analyze that data for personal and important information. For example, your private information such as your username and password.

Checking your email on public WiFi is always risky – one that's not worth taking if you have confidential and work-related messages in your inbox. Don't let convenience overshadow your need for security, and always use a VPN.

Use a robust spam filter

Cloud-based email clients tend to come with state-of-the-art spam filters. Make sure your provider offers excellent security solutions and your spam filter is actually turned on. Spam filters make sure you're not bothered by annoying marketing emails while also keeping your email account safe so you don't accidentally click on malicious hyperlinks.

You can customize the settings on your spam filter to block out any emails that contain certain words or phrases, which comes in handy when scams target specific keywords. Overall, this should help you prevent opening any spam that contains malware by accident.

Never click the "unsubscribe" link in spam emails

If a spam email does end up your inbox, and you open up the message, the last thing you want to do is click the unsubscribe link. You might think it's sensible to prevent further emails from the messenger, but that's not the case. Hackers will place them in emails in an attempt to trick you.

If you do click the unsubscribe link, there's a chance it will redirect you to a phishing site that will try to steal any of your personal information it can. The link is also a way to provide hackers with a way into your system, which is why it's so important to never click the link in the first place.

Remember smart email security practices

Following this combination of rules and safety precautions will help keep your email account secure. Don't forget, hackers are everywhere and if you don't have strong cybersecurity practices in place, your data could be stolen in minutes. Protect yourself and your business with smart email security.