Secure Living In The Digital Age: Essential Tips For Email Security

Essential Tips For Email Security

Imagine this: It’s just another workday, but something feels off with that new email notification. Sounds familiar? Well, you’re not alone!

Every day, users and companies worldwide face similar email issues. It’s not a made-up story, but a real-life lesson on why we need to talk more about email security.

And to make sure you understand how important email security is, let’s go through some stats. Emails are the core of modern business communication, however, at the same time, email phishing attacks are among the top cyber attacks these days, with more than 74% of breaches involving the human element

Of course, email security is about more than just phishing, as there are also viruses, spam, ransomware, and other creative ways to get your passwords and other sensitive information. 

That’s why in our 4th article of the Secure Living In The Digital Age series we will explore some essential tips for email security that will help you keep your inbox safe and private. 

How to keep your email safe and sound

1. Keep an eye out for sophisticated email phishing 

Phishing is a type of cyber technique that tricks you into sharing sensitive information like your password. There can be many types of phishing attacks, such as deceptive or spear phishing, and they can also be sent via text message, social media, or by phone. But, most of the time, the term ‘phishing’ is mainly used for describing attacks that arrive by email. 

So, if an email asks you to confirm your password or bank details, especially when it requests immediate action, it may be possible you are the victim of a phishing attempt. Always check the sender’s email address and never click on links or download attachments from unknown sources.

Only open attachments or click on links if you’re expecting them and are sure they are coming from a known sender.

 2. Learn how a suspicious email looks like

Often, cyber criminals leave subtle traces behind that make it easy for you to spot potential threats, like phishing emails.

These include:

  • Typos and spelling errors – Many phishing emails contain spelling mistakes. This could be because some cyber criminals may not have a strong grasp of the language.
  • Suspicious URLs – scammers use URLs that closely look like those of actual companies. A quick tip: Just hover your mouse over the link without clicking on it and you will see the actual URL.
  • Other traces to look for:
    • Cross-check the sender’s email address with the known official domain of the company or organization they claim to represent.
    • A high frequency of embedded links, that make a point it’s all urgent, can be a warning sign.
    • Sometimes, the footer may contain company names that are misspelled or a bit altered.
    • Keep an eye out for emails with unusual capitalization patterns, grammatical errors, or weird phrasings.
    • Scam emails might have inconsistent fonts, varying sizes of text, or a general unprofessional layout.
    • Real organizations don’t ask for sensitive personal details through email.

3. Make sure you know what you download

If you don’t expect an email and it also has attachments, then think twice before you download anything. Attachments can often be embedded with malware or viruses by cyber criminals.

Remember, real organizations don’t usually send attachments out of the blue. They’ll actually send you to view or download documents from their official website. 

So, keep in mind to only open attachments when you’re 100% sure they are coming from an authentic source.

Email security tips

4. Avoid clicking on unknown links

Most of us already know this, as it might seem like common sense, but always be extra vigilant before clicking on any links, especially if they come from unknown senders or companies. 

And even when a link appears genuine and the sender seems legit, be 100% sure before giving your personal data. Spoofed accounts that imitate genuine ones are common these days.

5. Get in the habit of using strong passwords

Again, we can’t stress enough how crucial it is to have strong, unique passwords. Although this might seem the norm, there are still many out there that don’t actually do this. For example, this survey shows that 91% knew the risk of reusing passwords across multiple accounts, and yet 66% of them admitted still using the same password anyway.

Here are a few tips you can use to have strong passwords:

  • Avoid predictable words or sequences.
  • Mix it up with uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.
  • Instead of using a single word, try to use passphrases – a combination of multiple words, forming a string at least 15 characters long.
  • Use password managers to generate strong passwords.

6. Regularly update your email client and antivirus software

If you’re using an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird, make sure it’s always up-to-date. Why? Well, updates often include security patches that fix vulnerabilities and provide new features. If your email client offers automatic updates, it’s a good idea to enable them.

Also, make sure you always use and update your trustworthy antivirus software. This tool can play a crucial role in protecting both you and your company from lots of online threats, such as viruses, spyware, malware, phishing and spam attacks.

7. Use secure and encrypted connections

When opening your email, always use a secure connection. This is especially important when using public Wi-Fi. Look for “https” in the web address and use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your connection. 

Also, consider using email providers that offer end-to-end encryption or choose encryption software, as these ensure that only you and your recipient have access to the email content. 

8. Check your account activity from time to time

Most email services have this feature that allows you to see the recent activity on your account. Make sure you regularly check this so you can spot any unusual activity like sign-ins from unfamiliar locations or devices as soon as possible. 

If you see something suspicious, change your password immediately, and quickly log out from unfamiliar devices or locations.

9. Backup important emails

Even if you follow and implement all these steps, you can still be the victim of a phishing attack or a data breach. It can happen to the best of us, that’s why it is crucial to regularly backup essential emails to a secure cloud storage or an external drive. This ensures you won’t lose sensitive information if your email gets compromised.

You can even use a data backup management software that can automatically secure all your email data, including contacts, calendar entries, and other essential information. 

Read all the articles in the Secure Living In The Digital Age Series

As we said at the beginning of this article, emails are a big and important part of our digital life, and knowing how to keep them safe is a necessity these days. 

Adopting these tips for email security will help protect your personal and work communications while keeping all of your digital life safe and secure.

Let’s make every email, whether it’s a newsletter or a message to a loved one, a secure one. Happy emailing!