Today, it seems there’s no shortage of stories about email hacks or online data security breaches. Just recently, Lifelock — which is meant to help consumers protect their identities online — was the victim of a massive customer email address exposure, according to Mashable.
If you know very little about email security, those stories can make you feel hopeless when it comes to trying to protect your information and identity. With that said, there are steps you can take to better protect your email account.
Password security, and more specifically, the complexity of the password you use to protect your email account, is significantly important. Don’t just throw together part of your name and birthday and call it a day. Make sure to use numbers, symbols and uppercase and lowercase. Consider also making your password long, as opposed to a short string of a couple characters. Lastly, consider using password generators to provide a complex, multi-character password that will be more difficult to break.
As one final note for strong digital security best practices, do NOT reuse your password across multiple digital platforms. The reality is that if and when a web service you use is hacked and the password you use on that platform compromised, if you had used the same password on other platforms, they will now be at risk as well. Yes, it takes extra work and remembering multiple passwords is never fun, but this mitigates a lot of extra digital security risk.
First and foremost, if your email platform allows for 2-step verification, always turn it on. This verification process is highly important in increasing the security of your account.
Outside of that, most email platforms have a security answer question process to recover accounts or gain access to them. In the same vein, your security question answers shouldn’t be obvious for just anyone to come up with either. If you’re friends with your mother on Facebook, and she lists her maiden name, and one of your security question answers is her maiden name, that is incredibly easy for someone to work out with very little research. The answer to a good security question shouldn’t be easy to guess, and should be something you’ll remember — even if it’s an answer that doesn’t actually make sense with the question. If you’ll remember it, and someone else wouldn’t know it or be able to research it, that’s really what matters.
You should also always be sure your recovery options are up-to-date. Don’t just leave it to fill out later. If someone gets into your account, and you’re alerted, you’re going to want to have a recovery option like your personal phone number set up so you can fix it ASAP. Check out your recent activity often, too. If it looks like someone has tried to log in from somewhere strange, that’s something to flag, and means it’s time go in and change your password just for good measure.