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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

Protecting Your Email: Essential Security Practices to Keep Hackers at Bay

Protecting Your Email


Email Security Tips for Everyone


In today's digital age, email security doesn’t seem that important to the average person like you and me. But, when we think about all that our email address contains like our contacts, password reset emails, and personal data; it becomes clear that protecting your email is vital to your digital security.

 

Our personal email addresses are gateways to a wealth of sensitive information, making them prime targets for cyber criminals. Understanding the importance of securing your email is crucial for maintaining your overall online safety.

 

Hackers want access to your email address because it serves as a hub for personal and confidential information, which can be exploited for various malicious activities. This article will explore the dangers associated with compromised email accounts and provide actionable security tips to safeguard your digital life.


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Hackers Can Reset Your Account Passwords

 

One of the most significant threats posed by hackers is their ability to reset your account passwords. Not just you email account, but your accounts for online banking, social media, and health care providers.

 

Recovery emails are a common method for regaining access to online accounts when you've forgotten your password. I know I’ve used them plenty of times! However, if a hacker gains control of your primary email address, they can manipulate recovery processes to reset passwords on various accounts linked to that email.

 

And how do they find those accounts? They simply search your email for mail from your bank, doctor’s office, and social media. The contents of your email tell hackers where you go and how to exploit you.


Watch: Protecting Your Email: Essential Security Practices to Keep Hackers at Bay


 

How Recovery Emails Work

 

Recovery emails are set up to help you regain access to your accounts by sending a password reset link to your designated email address. This process relies on the assumption that only you have access to your email

 

How Hackers Exploit Recovery Emails

 

If a hacker gains access to your email account, they can intercept these recovery emails and reset passwords on accounts ranging from your social media to your banking services. This can lead to significant breaches of your personal information and financial loss. Can you imagine being locked out of your online banking account? What about somone posting spam to your Facebook page? These can be avoided with proper email security.

 

What Hackers Can Get from Your Email Address

 

A hacked email address opens the door to a treasure trove of personal and sensitive information on you and your family. Hackers can use your email to:

 

Phish Your Contacts

 

Hackers often use compromised email addresses to send phishing emails to your contacts. These emails, disguised as legitimate messages from you, can trick your friends, family, and colleagues into sharing their own sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.


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Access Your Personal Data

 

Once inside your email account, hackers can view your contact list, read through your emails, and gather information about your various online accounts. This data can be used to perpetrate further attacks or be sold on the dark web. The possibilities are, unfortunately, endless.

 

Gain Access to Personal Cloud Storage

 

Many people link their cloud storage accounts, such as Google Drive to their email addresses. A hacker who gains access to your email can potentially access your cloud storage, compromising personal photos, documents, and other confidential files.

 

Maybe you signed some paperwork and emailed it to a broker. Now they have that document and a copy of your signature. Perhaps you have some selfies saved to the cloud. With this they can use your real images to impersonate you. This leads us to identity theft.

 

What Is Identity Theft?

 

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your real, personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. This information can be your name, address, phone number, Social Security number, and images. The consequences can be devastating, ranging from financial loss to long-term damage to your credit score and your good name. For tips on protecting yourself from identity theft, consider this article from The Secure Dad Blog.


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How Hackers Use Your Email for Identity Theft

 

Hackers can use the information found in your email address to commit identity theft in various ways. They can gather a wealth of personal details such as your full name, date of birth, address, and phone number from your correspondence and account settings.

 

They can also intercept sensitive emails containing financial statements, tax documents, and other confidential information. With this data, hackers can impersonate you to open new credit accounts, apply for loans, or make unauthorized purchases.

 

Additionally, they might use the information to answer security questions on other accounts, gain deeper access to your digital life, and perpetuate further fraud. So the information in your email can lead to hacking your other accounts, easily.

 

How to Secure Your Personal Email Address

 

Now that we fully understand the threat that an unsecured email address poses, let’s look at some proactive measures we can take. Simple steps, such as using strong, unique passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and proactively deleting your personal information from the internet, can significantly enhance your email security.

 

Strong Email Passwords

 

One of the most fundamental security tips for protecting your email account is using strong, unique passwords. Maybe you’re using an old email address from 10 years ago and you’ve only updated the password once. That’s not good. Or perhaps you think that you’re not important and that no one will ever want to hack you so your password is Password1234. Either way, this is not good.

 

A strong password significantly reduces the likelihood of unauthorized access to your accounts. It should be unique for each account to prevent a domino effect if one account is compromised.

 

Tips for Creating Secure Passwords

 

Here are some way you can create strong, unique passwords for your personal accounts.

 

- Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

- Avoid using easily guessable information such as birthdays or common words.

- Consider using a passphrase, which is a sequence of random words strung together.

- Passwords 12 characters or longer are better.

 

Password Managers

 

And you may be thinking that it’s hard enough to think of these unique passwords let alone remember them. This is where a password manager is helpful. Password Managers like Bitwarden or NordPass will help you create and manage all of your passwords. These services will generate passwords of letters and numbers or use whole words. Then they can save your credentials for faster logins. Just be sure to create a strong master password for the service. And you can use them on your web browser and they offer smartphone apps, too.

 

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

 

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your email accounts, making it much harder for hackers to gain access. Two-factor authentication requires two forms of verification before granting access to an account: something you know (like a password) and something you have (like a smartphone app or security token). Yes, 2FA is a pain and it slows you down. But trust me, it’s worth it.

 

Turning you two-factor authentication for your email address usually involves navigating to your security settings. Here are articles that you can use for Google, Yahoo!, and Outlook.

 

Remove Your Email Address from the Internet

 

Data brokers collect and sell your personal information including your email address, to marketers and to random people who want to buy your personal data. This can expose you to unwanted solicitations and increase your risk of identity theft. These sites include WhitePages.com and BeenVerified.

 

Using DeleteMe to Remove Your Data

 

DeleteMe is a data removal service that helps people eliminate their personal information from data broker websites. DeleteMe works by regularly scanning the internet for your personal data and submitting removal requests to data broker sites on your behalf. Think of it as a delete key for your personal, private data.

 

DeleteMe can remove data like your:

 

-              Email address

-              Home address

-              Birthday

-              Employment history

-              Relatives

-              Photos

-              Past addresses

-              Social media handles

-              Marital status

-              Property value

-              And more!

 

Personally, I’ve been a customer of DeleteMe since 2018 and I highly recommend their services. You can read my full review of my experience to see if it’s a fit for your family.


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Conclusion: Email Security Tips

 

Email security is a crucial aspect of protecting your personal information online. By following key security tips such as using strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and utilizing services like DeleteMe, you can significantly improve your email security and safeguard your sensitive information. Remember, staying vigilant and proactive about your email security practices can go a long way in preventing cyberattacks and protecting your identity.

 

Incorporating security awareness training into your routine can also help you stay informed about the latest threats and best practices in cybersecurity. By continuously updating your knowledge and adapting to new security measures, you can ensure that your personal and confidential information remains secure in an increasingly digital world. You can learn more ways to be safe at home, in public, and online with The Secure Dad Podcast.

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Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.

 

Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

 

TheSecureDad.com

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