Ironclad Inbox: How to Make Your Email Hack-Proof (For Real)

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

You might think your email is safe, but you could be in for a rude awakening. Here's how to lock it up, once and for all.

For anyone in business, your email is your lifeline. 

In it lies important documents, passwords, credit card numbers, private conversations between team members, and so much more.

If all of this gets into the wrong hands, it can bring utter chaos to your organization. 

Yet whether you use Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook, or others--no email platform is fully protected from security breaches and since studies estimate that 47 percent of adults will get hacked in their lifetime, it is important you stay one step ahead of the game by protecting your account.  

Related Article: How to Use a Password Manager to Keep Your Accounts Secure

Here are some tips to help:

Secure Your Accounts

As we previously stated, leaving your email account as is keeps it vulnerable. Fortunately however, there are a few different tools you can use to ensure hackers are unable to do damage. The Detective scans your account for sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers and more. Using innovative technology, they see all of the information you leave vulnerable and warn you to delete sensitive emails. This way, the information is removed and privacy breaches are instantly prevented.

In addition, Enlocked is another great plugin which secures all emails you send on your browser, smartphone, and virtually anywhere else. While many secure email platforms exist with the tool’s security features, what makes Enlocked unique is the fact that you can use it on your pre-existing email account and download it in seconds.

This way, you don’t have to go through the inconvenience of changing your email platform, making it easier and more worthwhile to stay protected.

Create a Super Complicated Password

This one might seem obvious - if you create a complicated nonsense password, how are hackers ever going to guess it? But somehow, I bet you’re still using the same simple password to not only access your email, but to access all your online accounts. If it’s not your birthday, then it’s your daughter’s middle name.

This means that once hackers have discovered the password for one account, like your Facebook for example, they’ve discovered the password to all your accounts. Suddenly, cyber criminals and identity thieves have gained access to every private, personal, and classified piece of information about you. After all, 55 percent of Internet users use the same password for all their online accounts, and 26 percent use easy to remember passwords like birthdays and anniversaries.

Instead, add uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols into your password and don’t use any actual words, especially names. Try creating an acronym for an easy to remember piece of information. For example, if your daughter’s birthday is January 12, 2002 a password could be “Mdbi1/Jan,2.” Or, if your favorite sport is tennis, something like “ILuv2Pl@yt3nn!S” is perfect.

Related Article: Data Breaches Hurt 43% of Businesses in 2014: Do You Have a Cyber Security Plan?

Two-Step Verification

From Microsoft to Gmail and many others, two-step verification is becoming an increasingly popular method for hack proofing your email as well as other important accounts such as Slack and PayPal.  Though this method can be inconvenient, it certainly strengthens your email’s level of protection as it requires you to utilize both a password and a security code in order to access your email. 

It works as follows: You sign in using the password you created. Then, you receive a text message containing various codes to plug in to gain full access to your email. Since you are required to have the correct combination of password, code, and phone number connected to the account, the likelihood of hackers being able to breach your email becomes far less substantial.

Adopt Healthy Internet Habits

In addition to employing these preventative measures, it’s important to get rid of some not-so-great Internet habits, no matter how hard it might be. If, for example, you’re sitting in a cafe, ready to churn out some work, think twice before accessing their public WiFi. And, at the very least, don’t open your email accounts or any other precious accounts at that time.

Areas like this that offer public WiFi (coffee shops, airports, hotels…) are a hacker’s goldmine and logging on is almost like you’re begging to be hacked. This is because public WiFi hotspots don’t encrypt the data and information that travels from your device to the web destination, meaning hackers can easily intercept that unencrypted data.

Second, don’t open suspicious emails and especially don’t click on suspicious links, even if you think you know who the sender is. Every day, hackers are getting more sophisticated and succeed in duping even the most tech savvy Internet users. If something doesn’t look right, trust your instinct and delete the email. In fact, it’s better to mark it as spam so your email learns to trash similar emails that might come in the future.

Related Article: “Secure Cloud” is No Longer an Oxymoron

For many businesses, having your email account hacked is quite literally the worst case scenario. Most disturbingly, nobody is completely safe from this fate, apparently not even the CIA. So do yourself, your colleagues, and all of your contacts a favor by taking proper precautions and educating yourself of the methods you should be using to prevent security breaches. This way, your private information remains limited to those you trust and you can rest assured that you won’t be among the many companies that experienced the awful consequences of being hacked this year.

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