Table of contents
- Make Sure Your Inbox is Secure
- How to Protect Your Email From Being Hacked
- 1. Create a strong password
- 2. Don’t reuse your password
- 3. Use two-factor authentication
- 4. Don’t share your password
- 5. Beware of suspicious links
- 6. Use a VPN on your computer and your phone
- 7. Be careful about opening attachments
- 8. Don’t use public wi-fi or public computers
- 9. Keep everything up to date
- 10. Secure your router and wi-fi
- 11. Set up a second email address
- Email been hacked? Don’t panic!
Make Sure Your Inbox is Secure
Not all email hackers are the same, and hackers don’t always have the same motives. Sometimes, hackers won’t hide what they’re doing, openly committing identity theft. They’ll get into your email account and take it over, changing the password to lock you out. They might then use your account to email other people, including those on your contact list, so they can commit more fraud.
In other cases, they might stay hidden, reading your emails without alerting you to their presence. You’ll happily go on using your account, and the criminals will look for information they can use to steal your data or money, get into other accounts or even blackmail you.
The motivation is likely to be financial, but some hackers may do it just for kicks or revenge. Whatever the case, it’s vital to keep your email secure.
How to Protect Your Email From Being Hacked
There are many ways to prevent email hacking, but here are just a few of the recommended actions you should take. You should make these part of an all-around strategy to protect yourself from hackers.
1. Create a strong password
Your main defense against email hacks is your password. Far too many people pick an obvious password, which can be easily guessed. In fact, any password that uses simple words can be hacked quickly using special software that automates password guesses, using a dictionary of passwords or by brute forcing guesses.
A good, strong password will use a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. You can generate great passwords with password managers or online tools.
Popular password managers include:
Plus both Google and Apple have password managers, ideal for Macs, Android phones and iPhones.
2. Don’t reuse your password
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make. They use the same passwords for lots of different accounts, including their email. When criminals hack a site, they’ll often steal lists of email addresses and passwords. Then they’ll try to log into those email addresses using those passwords. If you’re in one of those lists, and you’ve reused your password, they’ll waltz right into your email account.
Making up lots of unique, strong passwords is easy enough, but remembering them is more difficult. Again, password managers are useful here. They’ll save all of your login details under one master password — just make sure it’s a good one.
3. Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is one of the best defenses against email hacks. It means anyone who tries to get into your account will need more than just your password — they’ll need a second ‘factor’ too.
This second factor could be:
- A fingerprint.
- A scan of your face
- A special code sent to you via text message or email.
- A code generated by a special app like Google Authenticator.
Without this second factor, hackers won’t be able to get into your account. It’s worth enabling two-factor authentication not just on your email but on any accounts that support it.
4. Don’t share your password
It’s always a bad idea to share your email password with other people. Even if you trust them implicitly, it’s a huge leap of faith, because you can’t guarantee they practice good cybersecurity measures. For all you know, their phone or computer could be riddled with viruses.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have shared email addresses, but the more people who know the login details, the more chances you give hackers to break in.
5. Beware of suspicious links
One way criminals get email login details is by tricking people into handing them over. They’ll commonly do this using phishing or smishing techniques. For example, a victim might get a text message claiming to be from Yahoo, saying their email account has been hacked. In the message, there’ll be a link to an account recovery page, where the user should enter their username and password.
Of course, that page will be fake, and the victim will have sent their password directly to cyber criminals. So be very careful about opening links in emails and text messages.
6. Use a VPN on your computer and your phone
By using a virtual private network (VPN), you can do two things: hide your location and encrypt your internet traffic. This second feature is particularly useful if you want to keep your email account secure. It means that if anyone tries to spy on you, they won’t be able to see what sites you’re on or what you’re typing.
With Clario, you get an easy-to-use VPN client for Mac, iOS and Android.
7. Be careful about opening attachments
Email attachments can be used to hide viruses and other malware. That includes malware that reads your emails, and keyloggers, which record what you type, sending it to the bad guys.
So if you get an email with an attachment and you don’t know the sender, just don’t open it. If it claims to be from a utility company or something similar, contact that company directly and check with them.
And make sure you have real-time antivirus protection on all your devices. That way, if you do download a virus, you’ll be alerted to its presence so you can delete it.
In Clario, you can run scans on demand too. Here’s how it works on a Mac:
- Select the Anti-malware box
2. Click Full system scan, Quick scan, or Custom scan
3. Let the scan finish. If Clario finds anything suspicious, select it in the list and click Finish
4. Clario will now quarantine the suspicious files
8. Don’t use public wi-fi or public computers
Quite simply, you have no control over the security of public wi-fi networks or public computers. Criminals could have hacked into them to steal data from users. And in some cases, fraudsters set up networks especially for that reason, taking files, reading emails, or stealing login information from unsuspecting users.
There are many ways criminals can use public wi-fi to scam victims, but there’s one easy solution — Clario’s Auto VPN feature. This automatically encrypts your traffic if you’re connected to an unprotected network. Here’s how you enable it on Android, for example:
- In the Clario app, tap Network
- Tap the Auto VPN slider
- That’s it!
9. Keep everything up to date
Responsible phone makers and software developers regularly release security patches and updates. These fix vulnerabilities that hackers can use to get into devices and accounts. If you don’t install security updates, you can leave yourself open to these hacks. Sometimes, this will be done automatically, but you might also have to manually search for updates.
Things to keep updated:
- Your device, whether it’s a phone, a computer, or a tablet
- Your email client, if you use one
- Your web browser
- Any other apps on your device
10. Secure your router and wi-fi
You may feel safe when you’re at home using your own router and wi-fi, but don’t get complacent. They can both be compromised by hackers. If a crook intercepts your router traffic, they might be able to read what you’re sending, allowing them to see your email password and other information.
You can secure your router and wi-fi in a few ways:
- Make sure to change the default password on your router
- Avoid using WPS if you can
- Set a strong password for both your router and your wi-fi
- You may want to hide your SSID in your router settings. This will stop outsiders from casually finding your wi-fi network.
11. Set up a second email address
Just about everyone these days wants your email address — from online retailers to social media networks. Not all of these people will have strong cybersecurity measures, meaning some may be more likely to get hacked.
For that reason, it can be a good idea to set up another email account for less important things like competitions or newsletters. As well as attracting hackers’ attention away from your main account, you can also reduce the amount of spam it gets.
Email been hacked? Don’t panic!
Following these tips, you can significantly reduce the chance your email account will be hacked, but there are no guarantees. If your email does get broken into, what should you do?
If you’re able to, you should change your password immediately. You may also want to link a different email address to your important online accounts, at least for a while. That way, the hackers won’t be able to get password reset messages sent to the hacked email address. And, of course, run a full virus scan. Check out our guide to dealing with a hacked email account for more tips.