This is a guest post by Heather Green.
Most of us use our e-mail accounts to manage all aspects of our lives, from paying bills online to ordering products and services to exchanging photos with family and friends. We share a lot of sensitive and personal data through our e-mail accounts. If those accounts were ever compromised, that data could be vulnerable.
In order to protect your personal information, you need to take steps to secure your e-mail account. You don't have to be an Internet guru to make your e-mail account safe. Here are a few easy ways you can secure your e-mail account:
Choose a Strong Password
The first step toward securing any online account is to choose a strong password. We hope you know by now that "password" or "1234" or any combination of those is not a strong password. Some tips for creating a strong password include:
- Choose a phrase rather than a word
- The longer your password, the better
- Include upper- and lower-case letters
- Include numbers and special characters
- Avoid names and other easily identifiable personal information
Using these guidelines as an example, a weak password would be something like "john0429" -- where "john" is your son's name and "0429" is his birthday. A strong password would be something like "IhateHackerstheyaretheworst2019*&".
Change Your Password Often
Even if you have a strong password, determined hackers may be able to crack it given enough time. Keep your account secure by changing your password frequently. There is no set schedule for when you should change your password. However, if you change it at least every three months, you should increase your account's security.
Choose Strong Security Measures
When you create your account and set your password, you are given the option to setup a backup e-mail and to choose security questions in case you forget your password. Be sure to use a secure backup e-mail, such as a network e-mail rather than a free web-based e-mail.
Web-based e-mails such as Hotmail will expire, and bots can re-establish an expired account and request a reset link for the password on your current account, which will be automatically forwarded.
Also be sure to choose strong security questions for which a person won't be able to guess the answer to gain access to resetting your password. Someone might not be able to guess the name of your first pet, but they can probably easily remember the name of the city where you were married.
If you use Gmail like millions of other people, Google offers you an additional layer of security known as two-step verification. When you sign up, you not only choose a user name and password, but you also must enter a code that Google sends you in text mail or voice message. This additional security ensures that any accounts set up in your name are actually owned by you. A person would have to get a hold of your phone and your personal details in order to crack all layers of identifying information.
Use a Secure Connection
Data can easily be intercepted over the web when you are using an unsecured connection. Avoid accessing your account from a public wi-fi spot, through a friend's computer, or even on your own computer if your connection has not been secured. Check your network settings to make your Internet connection more secure and to protect your computer from any harmful attacks.
Securing your e-mail account is a matter of taking simple steps such as choosing a strong password, changing it often, and increasing your security measures. Taking the time to practice these steps will ensure that you keep your private information safe and that you are able to browse the web securely.
Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About the author
Heather Green is a Christian mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice about online resources for nursing and online medical assisting programs.