A 2021 phishing study revealed that employees (not even counting home users) receive an average of 14 million malicious emails each year. Various cybersecurity companies (ESET, IBM, and Cisco) support this finding. That makes email hacking prevention a must. The question is: How do you prevent your email from getting hacked? We listed 10 tips and tricks here.
5 Ways to Avoid Email Hacking
The fact is age-old phishing still works, but there are several ways to avoid becoming its latest victim.
Tip #1: Use a Password Manager
There are reasons why online services ask users to change their passwords at least once a year. One is that most users employ passwords that are easy to guess (their birthdates, partners’ names, etc.) because they’re also easy to remember. In other cases, people save their passwords in their browser, which is a bad idea if their computer is insufficiently protected (translation, doesn’t have security software installed).
Strong passwords (alphanumeric and symbol combinations) are admittedly hard to crack, but they’re also hard to remember. Instead of saving login credentials in your browser, opt for using a password manager. That should let you create strong and unique passwords and keep them safe.
Tip #2: Use Up-to-Date Security Software
Regardless of the security software you use, be sure to enable web threat protection and unauthorized change prevention features. That should protect you from phishing and other email-based threats. Better yet, choose a security application that offers defense-in-depth email phishing protection—one that provides real-time, multilayered, and even cloud protection.
Heed all your security software warnings and notifications (especially for updates). Even the best security software money can buy won’t work if it’s not updated regularly.
Tip #3: Employ a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is an excellent digital privacy tool. It lets users browse the Web safely by hiding online connections (your IP address, location, etc.). It also encrypts all your data so hackers can’t tell what you’re doing.
VPN usage is beneficial for employees who currently work from the comfort of their own homes. It provides an extra layer of security, safeguarding users’ online banking, shopping, or communications from cybercriminals.
Tip #4: Enable 2FA, If Available
Besides using strong passwords, setting up two-factor authentication (2FA) can also provide additional protection. While not all email service providers offer 2FA, most do these days. Take advantage of the feature since it can prevent unauthorized password resets. You’re bound to get alerted if someone is trying to modify your login details at the very least, giving you time to prevent further compromise.
Tip #5: Don’t Engage with Phishers
While not everyone can spot phishers from the get-go, you can avoid them by not opening emails (or any message for that matter) from unknown contacts ever. Remember that a simple click on a malicious link or downloading a malware-laced attachment can already put you at risk.
Phishing emails often come in the form of fake password reset messages. Hover over links and make sure they’re not fake or point to malicious pages designed to steal your login credentials.
What to Do When Your Email Has Been Hacked
The tips above have all proven effective and work for anyone. But what happens if your email has already been hacked? Is there a way to reduce the damage?
Here are some mitigation steps you can follow:
- Assess the damage by logging in. If your password no longer works, try resetting. Change your password once you get in so hackers can’t reaccess it.
- If you reuse passwords, change them across all your online accounts. Chances are that threat actors are going to try hacking them all. Check your inbox and trash for password reset emails you didn’t instigate.
- Some cybercriminals use victims’ email accounts to attack their contacts. To ensure your account hasn’t been abused, check your sent folder or inbox for signs of tampering. An example would be a reply to an email you never sent.
As you probably discerned by now, email hacking is avoidable, but you’ll need to employ a good combination of prevention and mitigation steps. We provided both in this post to help you.