Being online means taking risks with your cybersecurity. It's a fact of life that identity thieves and hackers are on the hunt, and it seems not a week goes by without yet another high-profile hack, virus, or ransomware scare showing up in newsfeeds. And yet, as we change passwords, avoid shady websites, and take care not to reveal personal information on social media, many people don't seem to think about their email security much.
A lot of sensitive information is stored in our emails, from financial information to files meant for work. It's a hacker's goldmine, so it's time to close off the shaft with some #officehacks that will turn your email habits from lackluster to ironclad.
1. Use a Reputable Antivirus Program
This one's easy. First and foremost, always have an up-to-date antivirus program running at all times. Browsing the internet without an antivirus program with web and email protection leaves you vulnerable to ransomware programs, which are the perfect tools for blackmailing businesses and individuals alike.
2. Never Download Attachments from an Unreputable Source
Are you expecting a DocuSign message from someone to e-sign something? Are you the go-to person for invoices? If not, chances are, you've been "phished" by someone trying to get you to download an infected file.
Never download or even view attachments from people you don't know, and even if you do know them, ask yourself if it makes sense that you're getting this file. Sometimes, criminals like to use information from other people's address books to send emails that look like they're coming from someone you know. And if you're really itching to see what's behind door number one, ask IT to check out the file first.
3. Always Keep Your System Updated
Bugs and security vulnerabilities are two of the most common reasons why people fall victim to cyberattacks. Even with a good antivirus platform and a heightened level of caution online, you’re still at risk for data breaches if you’re running an operating system with known loopholes. Windows and Mac operating systems tend to roll out security patches quickly, but that's not always the case with third parties, such as web browsers or software developers (e.g., Petya made headlines over the summer by infecting a commonly used program used in Ukraine, MEDoc).
As with anything, automating the process can make life easier. Ask your network administrator to install software that will automatically patch your system. It'll fixing all of your security vulnerabilities before you fall victim to the next data breach or ransomware attack.
4. Two-Factor Authentication
If you really want to secure your email, it's tough to go wrong with two-factor authentication (TFA). The way it works is by requiring some sort of secondary method of verifying the user — something you might be familiar with if you've seen Facebook send a text or email asking you to verify you just logged in from a device.
It works by sending a one-time password to your mobile device through either a text message or via a program like Google Authenticator. Before you can log in, you need to enter this one-time code along with your username and password. New login from Nairobi, Kenya? Chances are, that's not you trying to log on, and now your phone will tell you.
Remember, anyone can fall victim to cyberattacks. But now that you know how to keep yourself more secure, you’re far less likely to have your email and personal information stolen by hackers.