Almost all professionals use email on a daily basis. The tool has been around for decades, but it is still an efficient way to send and receive information. Unfortunately, it is also the frequent target of hackers and cybercriminals looking to steal your information or spread a virus.
There are almost 4 billion active email users in the world, and the average American worker receives 126 emails each day. However, spam is increasingly becoming an issue for email users and it makes up about 45% of all emails received. Thankfully, there are some easy tips you and your employees can follow to practice email safety and keep your data secure.
Avoid opening emails when you do not know the sender.
If you do not recognize the name or organization of the sender, it is best to leave the email unopened. Anytime you feel like something is odd, that is probably a sign of spam. Instead of opening the email or clicking any links, you can contact the sender directly. If they work for a legitimate company, they likely have a contact number available online.
You should also delete any emails that contain attachments if you do not recognize the sender. This is one way that hackers send viruses via email. Delete the email as soon as you get it and report it to your IT or cyber security team. You should only open attachments that you expected to receive.
Keep your password secure.
It can be a pain to change your password on a regular basis, but that is the best way to keep your email account secure. Most email service providers will alert you when it is time to change your password, but you can also set up a calendar reminder for yourself. Change your password every six weeks to three months for the best results.
While it is tempting to use easy-to-remember passwords or ones that feature common words and important dates, these are not secure. A strong password does not contain any words. It also has a mixture of numbers, letters, and symbols. If your email password is case-sensitive, you can include both upper and lowercase letters for optimal strength.
Recognize phishing attempts.
Phishing is a category of cybercrimes that targets contacts through email. They attempt to lure you into opening an email or attachment, sharing personal information, or granting access and permissions. These emails can seem very convincing and even mimic the accounts of legitimate people. However, there are a few ways you can spot phishing schemes.
- A false sense of urgency, often using the words “urgent” or “act now”
- Requesting personal information
- Email addresses that are close to legitimate ones, but do not match exactly
- Misspelled words and poor grammar
- Messages claiming something is wrong with your account
- Requesting payment information
- Fake invoices
- Links to make payments
Keep your email address safe.
These days, sites ask for your email address all the time. You likely provide your email address to sign up for newsletters and updates, request product information, or create an account. While it is necessary to give out your email address from time to time, you should be cautious when providing it to websites. Ensure the site is legitimate and only provide it to sites that you trust.
Cybercrimes are not limited to large corporations with deep pockets. The number of small businesses targeted is increasing each year, and these companies often lack the resources necessary to recover from a major virus or data breach. For professionals in organizations of any size, maintaining email security is crucial. Always be vigilant when opening emails and attachments, provide your email address with caution, and keep your passwords secure to reduce your vulnerability over email.