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Securing Email Correspondence

Although you may not realize how vulnerable email is, because it is usually unencrypted, email is often not as private as we assume.  In fact, a vibrant business has sprung up around the information that can be surreptitiously gleaned from inside private emails.   Here are a few tips for making your email account more secure.

When Possible, Use a Secure Connection

If you use an online email server, such as Gmail, you should know that although many email services use a secure connection when you log in, they do not necessarily use a secure connection when you send messages while on a public network.  In order to change this, you can change your settings to always use the secure connection “https,” rather than the “http,” connection.   Go to the “Settings” tab in your Gmail account (the in the right hand corner of the page) and change your settings to “always” use https rather than http.

Take Advantage of the Tools Your Email Provider Offers

You can also check, if you believe that your account has been compromised, when your Gmail account has been accessed, as well as from what IP address was used.  You can find this information at the bottom of your Gmail browser.  Another thing to do if you think (or know) that your account has been hacked is to make sure that you are not forwarding email unknowingly.  If someone did hack your account, they could change your settings to forward all your email to another account.  You can make sure you’re not forwarding mail by checking your “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab under setting.  If your account has not been compromised, your settings should be to “disable forwarding”

Other webmail providers have security options as well.  If you use Hotmail, you can link your account to a specific computer or computers, which will allow you to reset your password from your “Trusted PC” if your account is ever compromised.  If you use Yahoo, on the other hand, you can pick a “seal” or color, which simply adds another hurdle for hackers or others who may try to break into your account.

Encrypt Your Email

You can also ensure that no one but the intended recipient is reading your messages by encrypting your email.  Microsoft Outlook is one email program that offers this service – in Outlook you can choose to share security certificates with those that you regularly communicate with, so that their email provider can automatically uuencode your encrypted emails.

Even if you take all of the above precautions however, you could still be putting your information security at risk in other ways.  Although you can protect your accounts all day using security measures, it won’t do any good if your computer’s security is already compromised in other ways.  If a hacker can see everything on your computer screen for instance, it won’t do you much good to encrypt your files.  Make sure that you take common sense precautions to protect yourself and your information daily.  Use complex, hard-to-crack passwords.  Update your computer’s software regularly, and check often for viruses and malware.

Author Bio:- As a writer and computer enthusiast, David Rocke was helping his friends program their computers and protect their documents for years before he became the resident blogger for Vanguard Archives of Chicago.

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