In 2021, COMB, or Compilation Of Many Breaches, was released on the internet. It was a collection of usernames and passwords that had been stolen in a number of breaches, and contained more than 3.2 billion unique emails and passwords.
With around 3.5 billion of us online, there is a strong chance that your email and password were part of that leak.
What can we do about it? How can we protect our personal information and keep it out of the hands of hackers?
Read on as we take a look at some effective tips for email protection.
Always Use a Strong Password
If you want to know how to keep your email address private, then it has to start with your password.
Far too many of us are still using weak passwords, with the most common password being ‘123456’ and the fourth most common being ‘password’. Even the least sophisticated hacker could access these accounts in seconds.
A strong password should have the following features:
- At least 12 characters long
- Uses a mix of upper and lower case, numbers, and special characters
- Not used for any other accounts
- Does not contain common words or phrases
The trouble is, following these rules can make your password hard to remember. There are two ways around this. You can use a phrase to create your password; you could take a line from your favorite song, for example, and use the first letter of each of the words. Your password would then look like a random string of letters, but would be simple to remember.
The alternative is to use a password manager. This is an app that will create and store extremely strong passwords for you; you only need to remember a single password for the app, and it will do the rest.
If your password is leaked in a data breach, then it doesn’t matter how strong it is. That’s why it’s important to regularly update your passwords so that if they do get leaked, you won’t be vulnerable for long.
With data breaches happening all the time, it’s important to know whether your email is compromised, so that you can update your password to keep it safe.
Websites such as haveibeenpwned.com allow you to enter your email address and find out if it has appeared in any data breaches. If it has, you should change your password immediately. You can also set up notifications to let you know if your details are breached in the future.
Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication
An effective way to add an additional layer of protection to your email accounts is to turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA).
This is a further step in the sign-in process. When you enter your email and password, you will then be prompted to complete a further level of authentication before you can access your account. This could involve sending a code to your phone number, or one being generated by an MFA app. You would then need to enter this code before you can sign in to your account.
By setting up multi-factor authentication, it should stop people who have access to your email and password from getting into your account, since they would also require your specific device.
Beware of Public Wi-Fi
Another common way that hackers can access your credentials is through man-in-the-middle attacks. One of the simplest ways to do this is by setting up a fake public Wi-Fi.
You’re in your favorite coffee shop, and see free Wi-Fi showing on your phone. You sign in, and log in to your email account. Unknown to you, that free Wi-Fi account is actually fake, and the hacker can now read your email address and password before they get passed to your email account.
Use a VPN
The good news is that this doesn’t mean you have to give up on free Wi-Fi forever.
One of the best pieces of advice about how to secure an email account from hackers is to use a VPN. This is a Virtual Private Network, and it is intended to protect your internet connection. Your data is sent through an encrypted tunnel, meaning that even if you were to sign in to a fake Wi-Fi network, the hacker wouldn’t be able to read your email and password information.
All they would see is unreadable, encrypted data.
Get Professional Help
One of the most important places to keep your email protected is at work.
If your work email is hacked, the hackers could gain access not only to your emails, but also other parts of your work network too. It could cause serious damage to your business.
The good news is that it is possible to make work email systems much more secure. The best advice is to bring in professional help, rather than try to do it yourself. IT companies will have the most up-to-date expertise to keep your emails as protected as possible. They can also offer other security services too; you can learn more with this guide to managed IT services.
Email Protection Has Never Been More Important
Hackers are constantly developing new ways to steal your information, and the number of breaches of information continues to rise. It’s more important than ever that you follow the email protection tips listed above if you want to keep your personal information safe.
It’s all too easy to get complacent, but just imagine how awful you will feel if your email account gets hacked, knowing that someone could be reading through all of your personal emails. It doesn’t bear thinking about, so make sure you have the best protection possible.
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