This year has been full of email hacking campaigns. From the suspected hacks of the Democratic National Committee to Yahoo’s email data breach, the number of attacks against email users continues to grow. Our inboxes are prime targets for hackers because they hold some of our most sensitive information. From our instant messaging apps to our social media accounts, email holds the keys to the doors that hackers want to open.
The good news is that there are ways to protect your inbox. Keep reading for 5 tips to protect your email from hackers.
- Hack-Proof Your Password
One of the first steps to protecting your inbox is to protect your password. Never share your login credentials with someone else and never store them in an unsecured location. It’s time to end the days of writing your password on a piece of paper or storing it in a Notepad file!
Complexity is another important factor. Using an easy password is not only convenient for you, it’s also super convenient for hackers. While having a complex password can make memorization much harder, it’s well-worth the added effort. When creating passwords, be sure that it:
- Is at least 8 characters long
- Includes special characters
- Uses a mix of upper and lowercase letters
To check the strength of your passwords, use howsecureismypassword.net. If your password is “password123,” it could be hacked in about a month. But, using “P@ssW0rd123!” will take 34 thousand years.
Aside from password complexity, you also want to avoid using the same password for different accounts. Boost your security even more by resetting your password every few months. With these techniques, you can rest assured that your inbox is safe.
- Check Your Username
Most people are quick to create usernames that include their real names. But, using easily guessed usernames can leave your emails vulnerable to hackers. With the widespread use of social media, it’s easy for a hacker to guess what your login name may be. To minimize this risk, avoid using your name or any other personally identifiable information in your usernames. It’s also best to use different usernames for different websites. This way if a hacker gains access to one of your accounts, they’re less likely to be able to access all of them.
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Another way to protect your email and privacy is to turn on multi-factor authentication, which is an available feature from most of today’s popular email service providers. With multi-factor authentication, you not only have to provide your username and password, but you may also be asked to answer a security question or provide a one-time PIN that’s sent to your cell phone.
With multi-factor authentication, the added layer of security makes it much harder for a hacker to gain access to your email. For someone to get into your inbox, not only would they need your login and password, they’d also need access to your phone. The odds of this happening are quite slim.
- Consider Using a Password Manager
Having dozens of logins with dozens of complex passwords can become a nightmare. It’s hard to remember what day it is some weeks, let alone what your login information is for a site you don’t use very often. If the idea of remembering so many different strings of letters and numbers, you’re not alone.
Thankfully there are password management apps that eliminate the stress of memorizing passwords. With a password manager, you have to remember one password and you’re good to go. The days of passwords on post it notes are of the past! Instead, the password manager will generate and keep track of passwords for all of your accounts. You can even use them for remembering credit card numbers and PINs.
- Know Security Best Practices
Having a complex password or using a hard-to-guess email address is only as secure as your actions. When accessing your email, there are some must-follow practices to ensure that your personal information isn’t compromised by a hacker. For example, avoid using public hotspots and Wi-Fi connections. These are often highly insecure and can be easily accessed by a hacker. Other security practices include:
- Enabling WEP/WPA Key on your router
- Using a VPN
- Not opening suspicious emails
- Using updated browsers and apps
- Running anti-virus scans daily
With these security best practices, your email is much less susceptible to being hacked. Be careful for spam email messages and always use a secure connection when using the Internet.
Millions of emails are sent and received each day. As more data is shared and stored in our inboxes, hackers are doing everything they can to gain access to this information. Your inbox is a goldmine, so be sure to protect it as such! With these 5 tips, you can have the peace of mind knowing that your emails are protected from unauthorized access.
What do you do to protect your identity online? Share your expert advice in the comments.