Many business owners and webmasters do not give a lot of attention to the security of emails. It is a fact that your email accounts are vulnerable and just like your website they might get hacked. In case you are not a tech savvy person or if you have created your first ever email account, then the information mentioned in this article will be helpful for you. Email accounts are used for performing various tasks like sending emails to friends, sending important emails to your bank, sending important business information to your colleagues or boss.
Irrespective of whether you are using a private email service or a public email service, hackers have the power to break into your emails. While this might sound distressing, it is possible to take complete control of your email accounts and prevent malicious users from gaining access with the 11 ways to avoid your email from getting hacked mentioned below.
1. If possible, configure your email connection to HTTPS.
‘HTTPS’ appears in the browser window prior to ‘www’ and it is preceded with a padlock icon. For a Gmail account, you can do this by clicking on ‘Settings’ option present in the top right section, then select the ‘General’ tab, then click on ‘Always use HTTPS’ and save the settings. This option is not available to the people who access email through Hotmail.
2. Do not open any unfamiliar emails.
In case you open an email that is familiar, but later on you think that it is not, delete it immediately. Do not click on any links present in the email message and do not send any personal or banking information to the sender. If you open the link, there are possibilities that your computer might get infected by a phishing scam and your information will be stolen right away.
3. Install a firewall, anti-spyware or anti-virus on your computer and always keep it updated.
Ideally, opt for automated updates so you don’t have to manually update the anti-virus every time.
4. Avoid logging into your email accounts through any unreliable or unknown computer.
If you do use a public computer, such as at the library, café, or other public place, don’t log into your e-mail or other personal account. You don’t know who has used that computer in the past, or what is installed. There could be malware installed that could lead to your account credentials being stolen.
5. The most important precaution – make sure that you have a complicated password for your email accounts.
If you have multiple email accounts, avoid using the same passwords for all of them. Your security questions and answers should also be difficult to crack. Change your passwords every month or every two months. A strong and complicated password consists of upper case and lower case letters, punctuation and numbers.
6. Find out if your passwords are really secure.
You will come across many online password tools that will generate a password for you and they will also let you know if your passwords are weak or strong.
7. Ensure that your password is not one of the most popular passwords used by people all over the world.
You will find a list of popular passwords online. If your password is similar to any of the passwords mentioned in the list, change it right away. A password manager, such as LastPass, can help managed unique, random passwords so you don’t have too.
8. Use two-step verification, if possible.
This method adds extra security to an email account. After you have entered the username and password, you will also have to enter a code generated by either an app or sent to you via SMS. If a malicious user was to try and gain access to your e-mail account, they would need to know your account credentials and unique number generated every minute.
9. Utilize a password manager.
As a result of this service, the need to enter the password when you log in is eliminated. You can log in with just a click.
10. You might think your password is unique as it is a mix of characters.
However, it might not be strong because it is not long and complicated enough. Uniqueness of the password is ascertained by the length of the password, a long password becomes extremely difficult to crack.
11. Use a VPN (virtual private network) software for encrypting the wireless communications.
VPN is a network set up that helps people to communicate privately over a public network. For instance, you might occasionally feel the need of working from home and your employer is aware that in case you are working from home, the data is transferred from your home PC to your office PC, and therefore, this data needs to be protected.
Another example is when you use the public WiFi. As a result of the public WiFi network, your data can be sniffed by criminals. Use of a VPN solves this problem.
Securing your email accounts is important and it is not at all difficult. With little precautions in time, you can save a lot of trouble that might be caused at a later point of time. Apart from following the tips mentioned above, it is also important to have the latest Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox and Safari versions to be on a safer side.
What should you do if your email account gets hacked even after following the precautionary measures?
If your email account gets hacked, then your first step is to go to the website of the email provider, and try logging into your email account.
If the password is changed by the hacker, try resetting the password by clicking on the ‘Forgot Your Password’ link.
Once you get the access to your email account, change the password right away. Change it to a long, strong and complicated password that includes letters, numbers and special characters. Do not use real words.
Once you do that, check your other email accounts as well to see if they are working fine. If you have easy passwords for all the email accounts, then change them to complicated ones on priority basis. Keep changing all your passwords from time to time. This makes it difficult for the hacker to get access to your email accounts.
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