3 Tips to Make Email More Secure for Sensitive Data

February 6, 2023

For some online users, electronic mail is viewed as a simple system of a message flying from point A to point B. While they may have some notion of what goes on behind the curtain, they would probably be surprised at how complex this system actually is, involving multiple servers, hosts, and executed software. 

Unfortunately, there are plenty of instances during the use of email services when your confidential data can be intercepted, stolen, destroyed, or modified, so setting up adequate protection against disaster is crucial. Let’s examine 3 key strategies.

1. Choose a reputable mail provider

In the process of choosing a new mail service, users are often tempted by offers of massive storage, calendars, multiple mailboxes, and a cool-sounding domain name, but these things have little impact on your privacy. A truly private email service will incorporate end-to-end encryption and possibly additional security features.

End-to-end encryption creates a wall behind the data of your message from the moment it is created to the moment it is deleted. And the only people that can bypass these protections are the sender and recipient: everyone else (including hackers) only sees encrypted (scrambled and indecipherable) information. You might be surprised to know that many popular mail providers (like Gmail and Outlook) don’t use this standard by default.

2. Use only reliable devices and networks

Even with the finest security protections on the side of a mail provider, human error and carelessness can easily put their data and service at risk. One relatively common situation that can occur is unauthorized access to a shared device. For example, you might borrow a laptop at your work, open up the browser, and sign in to email. After you finish there, you might close the tab and leave the computer, but this doesn’t mean that your session with the mail service has terminated. Depending on your provider, the next user might open this mail service and be redirected straight to your inbox. And who knows what kind of malicious actions they might perform next.

Networks can also be dangerous to use if they are public and not protected by passwords. In our modern age, anyone can create a WiFi hotspot on the fly with just their smartphone and name it in such a way that it imitates a known and trusted network. Accordingly, anyone that connects to this doppelganger network by mistake will have their traffic flowing under this ‘operator’s’ management. So there is a huge potential for data compromise.

3. Make your account a nightmare to break into

It is a common misconception that only the accounts of the rich and powerful, the famous or naive people, are targeted. Even if you don’t disclose your login credentials to hackers, strengthening security means assuming that attempted breaches of your account will occur and preparing for them. 

A complex password is a good place to start, fulfilling all the traditional complexity requirements but also being unique and unguessable. This shouldn’t be something that hackers can guess by gathering information about you. The second priority recommended is adding another authentication factor, such as SMS or app-based login codes or biometric factors (like a fingerprint scan).


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