In the digital age, practically every moment of our lives is recorded online; whether through popular social networking sites or other forms of communication like email, online tools provide increased coverage of our existence. While our growing reliance on digital offerings has caused the world to shrink, it has also raised a lot of issues, particularly with regards to infringement of privacy. Concerns about the security of content on the web are certainly well-placed. Compared to the free-for-all content sharing mechanism of social networking sites, however, email is still a much safer communication medium, but that doesn’t mean it is entirely foolproof. Email messages bounce unprotected from server to server so private information might be compromised. Here we have compiled a few tips to help you protect your email better.
Your email address quickly becomes public information because it is something you often give out for various communication and business purposes. So, in this scenario, the only thing between intruders and your private information is your password. Spending time to come up with a strong password is, therefore, a good investment—strong passwords are those that are both the most difficult to guess for strangers yet easy to remember for the user. While Random Passwords Generator gives passwords that are typically impossible to guess, you are much more likely to forget them. So, this isn’t the best option for the average user. Using sentences, like your favorite quote in conjunction with the odd punctuation is a good idea. Also, using code only you can interpret is also smart. However, be careful to avoid anything that can be easily associated with you, like your phone number, birthday, or your dog’s name.
After opening your email account on a public computer in a library or an Internet café, be absolutely sure you’ve logged out before leaving. Even then, you might be leaving behind traces that could give the next user too much information about you. For this, simple steps like Start InPrivate Browsing in Internet Explorer, Private Browsing in Firefox and Incognito mode in Chrome can go a long way. For either Firefox or IE, pressing Ctrl+Shift+P during a normal browsing session switches you to private browsing. In Chrome, Ctrl+Shift+N opens an Incognito mode window. Even with this, you have to shut down the window. Clearing history after your sessions and using a virtual keyboard are also good practices if you are accessing really sensitive information.
Protect Your Address
Although spreading your email address is a necessary communication and marketing tool nowadays, it is possible to limit the number of people with access to your ID. For instance, not putting it on your Facebook profile or on other blogging and interactives sites and posts can help keep spammers and scammers at bay.
Lock Your Windows
If you step away from your desk, lock the Windows desktop or close your email client. Otherwise, a sneaky co-worker could read your email or even reset your login password. Hold the Windows key and press L to lock the desktop instantly. Make sure that when Windows locks, it asks for a password for eventual unlocking. Right click somewhere on the Windows Desktop, select Properties from the menu, go to the Screen Saver tab, select any screen saver and make sure the On Resume, Display Welcome Screen or On Resume, Password Protect is checked under Screen Saver before clicking OK.
This is one of the most used and the most successful techniques hackers and phishers use to gain access to your information. Whenever your email provider sends you notification of a security breach, with a link to reset your password, do not open that link! It’s almost certainly a fraud, designed to steal your email account password. If you have any doubts, navigate to the email provider’s site directly and double-check.
While sending sensitive information via email, safety is a primary concern. For this, save your information as a document and use your word processing application’s built-in encryption, or store the document in an encrypted ZIP file. Then send the password for the encrypted file to the recipient through an alternative mechanism. If you need encryption frequently, try a free email encryption product like PrivateSky or Enlocked.
Disable Automatic Login
For your home computer, enabling Windows to automatically log on to your profile when it starts up is convenient, but it lets whoever restarts the computer get to your email just as easily too. If you are not the only user of your computer, you can disable automatic login by selecting Run from the Start menu, typing “control userpasswords2”, click OK, and make sure Users Must Enter A User Name and Password to Use This Computer is checked in the Users tab before clicking OK again.
These are just a few simple steps you can apply to keep your email safe. Unless you deal with highly sensitive information, these should be enough to ensure basic privacy. Of if you have some other useful tips then share it with us on the blogger comment box below.