Email accounts are hacked all the time. Believe me this is something you do not want to experience.
From Hotmail to Gmail (and government accounts hacked by China) no one is safe. When big breaches happen it brings to the surface the issues everyone should carry out to do our best to secure our accounts.
No Email Account is Infallible
The truth is there is no such thing as a 100% no-hack guarantee. With that noted, there are commonsense things we can do to give us the best chance to help prevent being having a target on our back.
Here are some quick tips to help you secure your email account.
Create Funky Passwords
No pet names, no spouse names, no nicknames. Nothing that is personally identifiable. Instead create passwords that are at least 8 characters in length. You want to include a combo of capital letters and lower case, numbers and special characters.
The more difficult the better. But how do you remember those passwords? And, having to type them in is a real PIA. I get that.
That’s why I use LastPass. LastPass incorporates with your browser, has a password generator and automatically remembers and inserts usernames and passwords for you.
Then, never write your password where eyes other than your own can view it. When you need to share your password with someone for any reason, immediately change that password when their access is no longer necessary or required.
If you must use a free web-based service make a point of clearing out your email in and out boxes often. This way if your account gets compromised past emails that may contain sensitive information are not on hand for viewing by strangers. Or to be used against you.
Then, every month or so, because you are not a smartie and using LastPass, change your password. This way if other website databases that you frequent and login to are hacked, only old passwords are compromised.
Use Your Own Domain
Register a domain (yourname.me for example) with your favorite domain registrar and use their email services. Very inexpensive and easy to do. Then you are not relegated to what the free services are willing or able to do to protect your account for you.
Don’t Click Links
Do not click on any links in emails when you do not know the sender. If emails show up that you were not expecting, double-check their authenticity before clicking any links within.
These links can send you to infected websites or engage Spyware that can gather information off your computer or device. Including your email.
Double-check your virus software, right now, to make sure you are up to date and that daily (minimally weekly) updates are on auto-pilot. This is how your system can protect you from the latest known threats.
Ignore Warning Emails
Today I received several like this. One was supposedly from Amazon confirming I bought a laptop that was shipping to some guy in Florida.
After looking closely — while it appears at a glance to be Amazon, it wasn’t. Nor was it sent to the email address on my Amazon account. When I hovered my mouse over any links within — they weren’t Amazon links.
To double-check, I went to my Amazon account — no such order. They were hoping I would panic, click on the links and who knows what type of site or script would then take over.
Another example was two emails stating my web hosting payment was declined and that services would be shut down. Same scenario as above. Look-alike emails, trying to induce panic, just to get you to click nefarious links.
Never Provide Your UN/PW
Ignore the emails that seem to come from a provider, bank or service that you use stating you are over quota, need to upgrade, or any other reason that requires you reply with your UN and Password. No provider will ever ask you for that information via email.
By considering the above, you have helped to minimize the risk of your account getting hacked. Worth the time to prevent sensitive or personal information being exposed to those with odious motives, right?
The onus is on you stay informed and pay attention to details so that you can protect your information. The tips above are not a choice; they are part and parcel of participation.