Each year, thousands of email accounts are compromised due to poor security, and with the holidays just around the corner, scammers are gearing up to cheat you out of your personal and financial information using any methods at their disposal. Whether it’s through email scams or planting malware onto your computer, scammers are constantly finding ways to steal your information.
Instead of falling victim to scams this holiday season, here are 6 tips on how you can make sure your email account is as secure as it can be.
1. Use a Strong And Unique Password (And Update it Often)
Strong passwords are a sure fire way to guarantee that your account is safe. If somebody is already putting in the work to crack your password, then your standard weak passwords won’t stand a chance. If your password is ‘password’ or ‘1234qwer’ we’re looking at you!
If you feel like your password isn’t strong enough, the rule of thumb is to choose one that’s at least 8 characters long, and contains at least 1 number and 1 capital letter. Although complex passwords are always good, be sure to pick something that you’ll be able to remember!
Not sure of what to make your password? Check out our guide on how to make a strong password (that you’ll actually remember).
2. Use MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) for an Extra Layer of Security
Even if your password is as strong as it can be, there are always ways in which hackers can gain access to your account. Thousands of hacked passwords are exposed on the dark web each year, and while a strong password is a great way to secure your account, MFA provides an extra layer of security, so that only you can access your account.
Are you worried your account has been hacked? You can check here to see if your email has ever been compromised in any data breaches – if so, then you should look into changing your password right away.
3. Keep an Eye Out for Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are at their peak during the holiday season. Phishing scams are becoming increasingly more innovative, so it’s important to know what signs to look out for and what you can do to stay on top of them.
Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to get your sensitive information by pretending to be a trustworthy entity via electronic communications. Fake receipts, invoices, gift cards, and delivery notices are all examples of how scammers try to gain access to your information by phishing. Normally from fake accounts that pose as sites like Amazon, Apple, or Netflix. These emails will usually inform you that there’s a problem with your account and then prompt you to click a link, leading you to a fake website where you’ll be led to enter your personal information.
If you feel like you’ve fallen victim to a phishing scam, here are some steps you should take:
- Contact your financial provider and explain the situation – if you think you’ve been scammed, the first thing you should do is contact your financial provider. If the scammers managed to take any money from your account, you’ll likely be able to reverse the charges.
- Update your passwords – if you accidentally provided the scammers with your login information, then changing your password is a great step to ensure they can’t access your account again.
- Run a FixMeStick scan to make sure your computer is virus-free – if you feel like you’ve gone through the necessary motions to secure your account, the next step is to make sure you’re virus-free. Use your FixMeStick to get any lingering viruses off your computer!
FixMeTip: viruses are designed to hide on your system and steal your personal information. This means your antivirus solution may not detect them. This is why we recommend running a FixMeStick scan at least once a month to make sure your device is safe.
Need a FixMeStick? Get yours here today!
4. Never Open Unexpected Attachments Without Scanning First
Many viruses will often infect your computer when you download or open a malicious attachment. These may come from random email addresses, or even from your friends who themselves have been infected with a virus!
While you may be inclined to open these attachments out of curiosity, it’s never in your best interest. If you receive an email with a suspicious attachment, the best course of action is to run your antivirus email security software to make sure that the attachment is secure. McAfee Total Protection is a great way to scan your emails for any hidden threats, plus it will actively protect you against most viruses that try to make their way onto your computer!
If you’re concerned with accidentally downloading a virus, try checking your email while using a StartMeStick! The StartMeStick is a safe and secure way to access the internet, and because it refreshes after each session, even if you accidentally download a virus, your computer will still be safe and secure. This is great for anyone who is nervous about being online!
5. Use Strong Email Filters That Catch Scams and Spam
There’s nothing worse than having your inbox filled with scam emails and junk mail – especially when they start to ramp up during the holiday season. If you’re trying to keep your inbox clean, using an email filter is one of the best ways to filter out scam and spam emails. Email filters help keep your account safe so you’re not accidentally clicking on malicious links.
Depending on your email provider, there are various ways to set up your email filter. Typically, the most common way is to go to your email settings and select the “filter” or “block addresses” section. From here you can select who you want to receive emails from, and what you’d like to block from your inbox.
6. Don’t Access Your Email While Using Public WiFi
Public WiFi will never be as secure as your home connection, and there’s a good reason why. Hackers will often use programs called “network sniffers”, which monitor the data that goes through public networks, analyzing the data for your private information.
Checking your email on public WiFi is always a risk, especially if you have confidential information in your inbox. However, if you do need to check your email in public, we always recommend using a VPN, which effectively masks your IP address from prying eyes.
At FixMeStick we always recommend NordVPN for your VPN needs. FixMeStick customers can get NordVPN here (with the FixMeStick discount of course).
Email security plays a huge role in your cybersecurity. Especially during a time when online shopping is growing bigger and bigger by the day. Make sure you’re taking the necessary steps to secure yourself online.
If you’re worried about your safety online, we recommend trying out the StartMeStick – a safe and secure way to do all your online activities. Whether it’s banking, online shopping, or even checking your email, the StartMeStick provides additional security where you need it most and can be used to breathe new life into an old computer!