By: Jamie Neilon
Emails have become such a central part of our day-to-day lives, whether it is in a personal or professional atmosphere. Masses of people opt to send an email rather than having physical conversations either in-person or over the phone. Email provides access to so many other avenues in our lives, whether that’s communicating with colleagues or receiving coupons for a store at the mall. We put an enormous amount of responsibility and trust in a system that has so many holes, threats, and risks.
Common Knowledge Risks of Using Email
- Emails can be forwarded without you knowing about it.
- Emails can also be printed into hard copies.
- Minor email address errors or someone changing their email without you knowing means you could send emails to unintended recipients.
- Those that provide the email services you use have the right to store all your emails and inspect them.
- Copies still exist even if you delete them off your account.
- Your email login might be compromised if you get hacked or forget to log off after using a computer.
- Emails make it easier for someone to pretend to be you as all they would need is your login details or a slight opportunity when you are away from your device. There is no handwriting proof to show whether or not you created and sent an email.
- Computer viruses can be spread via email.
- Your email is not guaranteed to deliver, making time-sensitive communication risky.
- People that know you personally or have access to your personal information (such as things you may post on a personal Instagram or Facebook profile) may be able to guess your password if it is not very strong.
Spoofing is when someone emails you pretending to be someone you know. It’s easy to do and tracking down the true sender has proven quite difficult.
Phishing is used to gain access to sensitive information, such as banking details and social security number. The logos and details make the email seem legitimate and links to seemingly real websites also aid in the gimmick.
Spyware can be sent as a simple email attachment or in a link you’re prompted to click on. These allow cybercriminals to carry out surveillance on you and your online activity to gain access to private information.
We all know how viruses affect our devices and putting everything stored on our devices at risk. But fewer people are aware that the virus can spread to your entire contact list – putting friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances at risk too.
Being bombarded with advertisements and suspicious emails that flood your inbox means malicious emails have a good hiding place, as do those important and time-sensitive emails you’ve been waiting on.
Here’s How to Protect Yourself
Yes, email communication can have a lot of risks. But it is still the easiest and fastest way to get business work done. Here are some ways to protect yourself:
It sounds simple, but it is our first and strongest defense. Don’t automatically trust anything and do your research. Check the email – the spelling, the domain, does the email address match the sender’s name. If it looks fishy, it probably is fishy.
Password hacking is still one of the biggest weaknesses that exist in the digital world. To help avoid this, consider using a password manager so that you keep your password changing and complex. Additionally, enable two-step authentication if available.
Install Antivirus Software
Installing a strong Antivirus software on your computer helps you stay protected should a virus or malware get onto your computer. The antivirus software will usually block it, but should it get through, the software should be able to find the problem and erase it.
Avoid Public Networks
Public networks are breeding grounds for things such as key loggers and malware hubs. Avoid using them whenever you can, or at the very least avoid using them without a VPN active.