Some of the following points happen to be extremely basic, fundamental email security practices. However, it has been my experience that overconfidence, carelessness, or an I-know-it-all attitude often results in us forgetting the basics of internet security, and that is something that can prove to be very costly indeed. On that note, let us take a look at email security & best practices in email security.
This is the first fundamental step in email security. You should be very careful (and clever) while choosing a password for your email account. Avoid easily guessable passwords like your birth date, phone number, initials, or any other similar personal details. A medium-length (at least 8 characters) alpha-numeric password is what you should aim at. Also, never write down your password in your diary, or in any other similar place. Memorize it. If you can’t memorize it, you’re better off without email id. You can read more on commonly used passwords.
Unless you activate a spam filter, you will undoubtedly end up receiving a minimum of 10 spam emails a day, one asking you if you want to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks, two offerings you a high paying work at home job, three congratulating you on winning a million-dollar jackpot, and four prescribing some magic pills to increase the size of your @%&?*. It may be of interest to you that such spam mail constitutes nearly 65 percent of all worldwide email traffic. Opening such spam emails and clicking on any of the links that they contain will only invite trouble (not to mention a dangerous computer virus). The best way to alienate yourself from such spam messages is to activate your email account’s spam folder or spam filter. It will, in most cases, divert all such potentially dangerous emails to a spam folder from where you can delete them safely. Here is some more information on spam filtering services.
I have mentioned this simply because email happens to be the most common medium for phishing attacks. A common example of a phishing attack is a fraudulent email sent to you by an internet fraudster, posing as an executive associate of your bank, requesting you to reply back with certain personal details or bank account information, failing which your account will be penalized with a heavy fine. Innocent users (as well as ignorant ones) often fall prey to such frauds and internet hoaxes and end up being conned. Another potential threat of giving out personal details is landing up in a messy case of identity theft. Phishing attacks are presently on the rise, therefore, always remain alert and verify the authenticity of the sender before you reveal any personal details or bank account information. Read more on internet business scams.
Most internet and email viruses are sent in the form of attachments which are named in such a way, that the user inadvertently ends up clicking the attachment. Once this happens, the virus that is hidden in the attachment gets into action and then creates havoc. Therefore, you should be very careful while opening emails that contain attachments. Make it a point to study the subject of the email and the validity of the sender before you open any attachment.
Although many email providers these days have a system wherein an email or an attachment is scanned for viruses by default, you should make it a point to install some good and effective anti-virus software on your computer which has built-in email scanning features, as it could come in handy any time.
Last but definitely not the least, as an internet user, it is your personal responsibility to always be aware of all the latest happenings with regard to internet viruses, email frauds, email scams, email security, best practices, etc. Being up to date with all that is happening in the cyber-world can often protect you and your email account.
Well, my dear readers, this was a short overview of email security best practices. You can read more about email privacy issues. Remember, just as there are two sides to every coin, similarly email, in spite of being a modern-day revolution, can also be exploited and misused. But as long as you’re careful when you use it, you should have no problems!