Protecting Yourself From Email Security Risks
September 30, 2016
A fertile territory for cybercrime:
Email has been one of the most widely used web applications by both business and the general public alike since the dawn of the internet. Today there are billions of accounts, and this makes it a preferred avenue by which cybercriminals steal money, identities and account information like credit card numbers and passwords.
Email is one of the most common ways criminals can get to you.
Be suspicious of emails from unknown addresses and avoid emailing personal info.
How criminals can read your email:
Criminals can even intercept emails you send to others. Without a secure and encrypted connection, all of your communications could be readable by any cyber criminals who are watching. If that email contains personally identifiable information (“PII”), like account numbers, passwords, your SSN# or even just your phone or address, it can be used for purposes of identity theft. Stay safe by using secure email apps, a website with “https:” in the URL or a VPN (virtual private network).
The most common email threats:
Spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail where unwanted emails show up in your inbox with unsolicited offers, requests, links that lead to malware and downloadable files that infect your computer with malware.
Phishing attacks use social engineering to obtain personal and financial information or infect your machine with malware by getting the victim to download an infected file or visit an infected website.
Spear-phishing is a highly-specialized phishing attack that targets a specific individual or small group of individuals to collect information in order to gain access to computer systems, networks and data.
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How to improve your own email security:
Install antivirus (AV) protection and keep it up to date – Most people have antivirus programs installed on their computers already, but this will only keep the software current if you ensure “automatic updates” are turned on.
Keep security software current – The best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats is to keep security software, web browser, operating system and other programs up to date.
Automate software updates – Most programs will automatically update if this function is turned on, keeping you protected as new software patches become available.
Avoid links in emails – Many scam/ phishing emails will embed a link to websites that appear legitimate (like your bank) but this is a ploy to get you to enter information about yourself that can be used by criminals to steal your identity.
Beware of “social engineering” – Never respond to email requests for PII, such as social security numbers, bank numbers or other highly sensitive information.
Enable spam filters – Most internet and email providers offer spam filters that divert suspicious emails to a separate folder.
Protect all of your devices – Smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled and internet-connected devices you may use to read and reply to email also need protection from viruses and malware by following the steps above.
Report spam – Most email applications let you report spam so the sender can be flagged as a potential cybercriminal. Reporting spam also improves your spam filter’s performance.
Protect your online presence – Consider hiding your email address from online profiles, personal websites and social networking sites so it cannot be collected by scanning software and used to send you spam.