How To: Managing Your Email Security

Most if not all of us use email as our primary means of communication. Unfortunately, email accounts are also highly vulnerable, so email security is an important issue for all of us. This article discusses some steps you can take to ensure that your email account is secure.

Email Threats

Below are some of the most common email threats.

  • Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses: These are usually attachments to email messages that can wreak havoc to your computer and data. For example, Trojan Horses can record your keystrokes and steal your login information for your bank account or other online accounts.
  • Phishing: Phishing is a common hacker ploy that directs you to a fake website that looks legitimate. After you enter your account login information on this fake website, the hacker is able to steal this information and can then use it to access your account.
  • Spam: Although this is not an overt threat like the others, spam is also the delivery medium of choice for phishers and virus attackers.

What You can Do

The following is a list of steps you can take to ensure that your email account is secure:

  • Check for viruses and malware: Make sure that you are using up to date antivirus software and that your firewall is active as well.
  • Ensure that your operating system, software, and browsers are up to date: Turn on the automatic update setting for all operating system patches, so you are notified immediately when a new patch is released. These patches repair security vulnerabilities in your operating system.
  • Change your password frequently: In general, you should change your email password periodically, at least once every six months. If you think your email account has been compromised, however, you should change it immediately. Be sure to pick a unique password that you haven’t used on other websites. Use a combination of numbers, characters and case-sensitive letters. And make sure that is unique and not shared across other online accounts.
  • Don’t reply to emails that ask for your username and password: No email provider will ever ask for your username or password over email. Delete these messages immediately.
  • Be sure to sign out of public computers: When you are done using your email account, be sure to sign out of your email account if you are using a public computer.