Using Email Safely

Posted by FreedomNet

Using Email Safely: Internet security has been a common topic for us here at FreedomNet Solutions because we understand that cybersecurity is an important issue for a lot our customers, and we believe in helping our customers to be responsible Internet users. Only recently, Yahoo has announced a breach in their email accounts that occurred in 2013, which resulted in 1 billion accounts being compromised. This is one of the largest examples of a cyber-attack. Such attacks will only increase in frequency as the world becomes more interconnected and dependent upon the Internet. Email use is essential for a lot of people, and the threat of hacks will never go away. So here are a few easy steps one can take to at least minimize the impact of a hack, or potentially avoid it.

  • Don’t save unneeded emails – Hackers can go through your history of saved emails to find information about you. Be sure to regularly clean your inbox of old, unused emails.
  • Check email forwarding and reply-to settings – Smart hackers have been known to log into a person’s account, change the settings to automatically forward emails to a dummy account they use, and never have the need to login again while they get all the correspondence that is sent to you. Make sure automatic forwarding is turned off for accounts you do not know.
  • Do not re-use passwords – This one may be more obvious, but it is a necessary habit to get into. The fact that Yahoo’s breach happened 3 years ago and only was now announced means that hackers could have had up to 3 years to abuse your account. And if you have a Yahoo account and haven’t changed the password since then, please stop reading and do so right now!
  • Two-factor authentication – Also called two-step verification, this requires a traditional login password as well as a one-time-use code that is sent via another method like text to phone to login into an email account. This is a common feature available for most email hosts, including Yahoo, and adds an extra layer of security.

And finally, as a general tip, if a large security breach has been announced, be on the lookout for phishing emails that masquerade as security notifications that try to take advantage of the situation by asking users to reset their passwords or “verify” their accounts. That information can then be used to access a person’s account without their permission. These simple steps can help further secure your information online.

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