As a continuance of our smart internet use series, this article will provide some pointers for ensuring email security. This comes after the Intercept article, which detailed how Russian attackers were able to infiltrate an American election software company, has been circulating across news platforms.
Our Centry CTO, Dave Ehman, was able to give some insight into best practices for protecting yourself via email:
1. Password Security
Use a strong password that only you know. As we said in our Smart Social Media post, a good password has both length and complexity, avoiding dictionary words and sequential letters or numbers.
Never re-use a password that you use on other websites. This eliminates a security barrier between you and potential attackers. If you use the same password across multiple platforms and websites, it becomes much easier to crack – all it takes is one of those websites to be compromised and then the attacker has access to your email. From there, they can select the “Send password reset to my email” option and gain access to any of your accounts.
2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for your email sign-in. Most email systems and websites, including Google, have an option for 2FA. Furthermore, you can use it for various social media services including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. All you have to do is enable it in your account settings. It may seem inconvenient to set up, but in the long run, protecting yourself is worth it – especially if things like money or sensitive information could be compromised.
3. Disable Automated Messages
Do not use automated “away from office” messages, as these validate your email for spammers and open up the possibility for directed spear phishing.
4. Be Mindful of Email Content
Finally, never write something in an email that you are not 100% accountable for. If you would not want it to be read back to you in a deposition or open court, don’t write it – email is not private.
Ultimately, what you get out of cyber security is what you put into it. Attackers depend on people being lax about protecting themselves – it makes their goal that much easier to reach. If you put in the effort to secure your information online, you can help deter instances of attacks not only for yourself but for your organization. As in the example of the Intercept article, all it takes is for a few unsuspecting people to click on a link and then their entire organization becomes compromised, with rippling effect throughout the nation and the world.
For more news and tips on managing your security online, follow @CentryCyber on Twitter!
This article was written by Kristina Weber, Content Supervisor of Centry and Dave Ehman, CTO of Centry.