How to Protect Your Email Account From Hackers

A while ago, our expert Charles wrote an article on securing your Gmail account. My colleagues and I were thrilled and rushed to implement all of his suggestions. I did have one little problem, though… I don’t only use Gmail. What about my other email account?! Obviously, I pestered Charles long enough for him to sit down with me and explain what he calls the 4 basic steps to securing any email account. Now, I’m sharing them with you guys!

How to Protect Your Email Account From Hackers

How to Protect Your Email Account From Hackers

How to Protect Your Email Account From Hackers

Without further ado, let’s get into the 4 basic steps everyone should take to secure their email accounts:

1. Check Your App Permissions

Go through your apps’ permissions and see which app requests access to your email. These kinds of permissions don’t usually stop after you turn the app off. In other words, you’ve basically given apps the ability to access your email at any given time.

The first thing you should do is delete any app you no longer use. Next, look at the remaining apps and see if you can live without them. If an app is requesting access to your email and you don’t really need it, uninstall it.  Phone apps aren’t exactly super safe, and they do collect as much data about you as possible.

I personally only have apps on my phone that I absolutely need. Even then, I limit a lot of the apps can and can’t do on my phone. This isn’t in anyway the ultimate security hack, but it does help limit how much data and how much access these apps have.

2. Make Sure Your Password is Strong and Unique

As much as technology has improved, security researchers still value a strong and unique password above other forms of identification (read: biometrics). A strong and unique password is impossible to guess and requires a lot of time to crack.

As a rule of thumb always use a combination of upper and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers when creating your password. Make sure that you do not use the password for anything other than your email.

To take things up a notch, try to change your password every few months. If you make sure you’re always using strong and unique passwords, you’ll be using this particular feature to the best of its abilities.

3. Go Through Your Email’s Security Settings

Next, you need to go through your email’s security settings.

More often than not, users usually leave all of their email settings on default. That’s pretty dangerous, as different email providers have different security features turned off by default. In other words, you need to turn the features on yourself.

Go to your account’s settings and go through them one by one.  Make sure that you’ve enabled all of the settings you need and disabled the settings that don’t help your security. You can check your email provider’s support page to see which settings you should focus on the most.

4. Activate 2FA

The next thing you should do is activate the 2FA ( Two Factor Authentication)feature on your email account. Most emails will have 2FA as an added security measure, but you need to activate it.

2FA, simply, is something that adds another layer of authentication beyond your password. Even though there are some issues popping up with 2FA, it’s still a security standard that no one should ignore. You’ll usually have the option of authenticating your account via SMS, via a code generating app, or via a UFA hardware token.

Personally, I suggest you go for the UFA authentication if it’s available. You might have to physically go out and purchase the authenticating hardware, but it’s worth it in the long run. If you don’t want to invest in UFA, then use the code generator as your authenticator. Do not use the SMS-based 2FA, as it’s not really a very secure feature anymore.

If your email provider does not have this feature available, I suggest you change emails.

5. Encrypt Your Emails

Finally, I suggest getting yourself an email encryption tool to secure your emails. Encryption tools help secure your online communication, and could especially beneficial for a business and company emails.

An attacker or a third-party monitoring your email won’t be able to read any of your messages if they’re encrypted. To access them, the person would need the encryption key. Guess an encryption key is realistically impossible.

Not all users might require this particular security step. If you are in a position where you think you might be at a higher risk than others, then do invest in securing you email.

Which Email Accounts Are The Most Secure?

I don’t think it’s very shocking to hear that the emails most of use (Gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc…) aren’t really that secure. The good news is there are several secure options you can use instead. Our expert, Charles, did write a very detailed review of the most secure email providers out there. I highly suggest you take a look at Charles’ review to get a better idea of what each email provider does with its security. Here’s a quick list of the providers Charles selected:

  • ProtonMail
  • MailFence
  • Tutanota
  • CounterMail
  • Hushmail

How to Keep Your Email Account Protected – Final Thoughts

Of course, this is not the definite guideline for keeping your email account protected. However, this is a very good start. There are many things that you can do to keep your email protected, but all of them require you to be informed about your account’s vulnerabilities. If you don’t know what kind of threats are looming out there, how are you going to know what you should do to stay protected?

Finally, you need to pay attention to what you do with your email and online. It won’t really matter if you have all of the security features in the world activated and then go and click on an infected link. Never click on any links you receive in your email unless you know exactly where the link leads to and who sent it.

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