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Ensuring Email Privacy

The days of writing letters to deliver messages are long gone. Email is the main channel of communication for everyone and for every purpose today. Whether it is just a casual letter to a friend, a romantic one to your lover or a confidential one to your business partner, it is all being delivered through email. Considering the role this mode of communication plays in your day to day life, care should be taken to ensure the security and privacy of your email accounts.

Threats to email privacy

Emails travel through unsecured channels and are vulnerable to attacks. Hackers can easily eavesdrop on your mails to steal confidential information. To prevent that, you should first know about the threats to your email.

Information leakage – The threat of your email landing in the wrong recipient’s inbox or being read by someone other than the recipient is the first of the threats. As email travels through multiple computers before it actually reaches the sender, the the chances that it could be accessed by the administrators handling the process or by hackers exists.

Mail tracking onlineEvery time you send an email, you would be sending out your email address, your IP address, and even your location details. While not every one can access these details, hackers and cyber criminals can always find ways to learn about them and track you online. The scary part is that once they track your location, they may even be able to hack your system and access the files on your computer.

Viruses and spam – Spam is the unwanted email that you get from individuals or companies selling products or services. But most of the time, spam consists of infected emails that release spyware or Trojans into your system.

How to ensure email privacy

To ensure security and privacy of your emails, you need to take care of all these issues. This can be done in the following ways.

Use a trusted mail service

There are numerous mail service providers on the net today, but not all are secure. Choose a trusted and secure mail service like AOL, Hotmail or Gmail that have strict security policies. Even so, avoid sharing sensitive or confidential information over emails.

Create a strong password

Access to email accounts is restricted through passwords. But if your password is weak and easily guessable, then anybody can hack into your account and access your emails. Many people make the common mistake of using names of their loved ones, anniversary or birth dates, license plate numbers etc as passwords. When you create passwords like that, you are only leaving clues to miscreants to find your actual password.

Avoid using public hotspots

Hackers usually try to access email accounts through unsecured networks. Public hotspots, Wi-Fi in hotels and coffee shops etc are examples of such networks that are not encrypted. So as far as possible, avoid accessing your emails through such networks. At times, companies may also pry into their employees’ personal email to keep a track of their activities. So if possible, avoid accessing your personal email when at office.

Don’t give your email address to everybody

Don’t give your email address to just anybody and everybody. Also, avoid sharing your email address or id on public forums, chat rooms, and social networking sites. Because these are the places where hackers look for email addresses they can hack into.

Encrypt your messages

While it is best to avoid sharing confidential information through email, at times you have no choice but to do so. When you must share sensitive information through email, you should use the built-in encryption feature of the application or document and share it through a password-protected zip file.

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