Have you ever received an email from someone you know explaining that they’ve changed their email address due to a recent hack job? Has that email blast had scores or even hundreds of email addresses of that person’s contacts visible? Ouch. Email is a a tricky beast, especially with open WIFI hot spots, and multiple opportunities for “the bad people” (and their machines) to gobble up your email bits for nefarious purposes.
There are some basic email concepts that should be considered by anyone who uses email and the Internet. Even if you feel you’re a casual user, consider some of these steps to help you keep your private details private.
First of all, if you create a personal email address, use it for personal purposes only. If your name is John Smith, you might have john.smith @ mydomain.com as your email address. Use this for friends and family only. Do not shop with it and do not share it with people you don’t know.
Create a separate email address – perhaps smithshops @ mydomain.com and use that for your insecure use of email. In fact, if you’re inclined to be super safe, you might do this annually – creating smithshops2013 @ mydomain.com. In 2014, delete the old account and create a new one.
This is extremely useful, as any disruption to your email will likely impact your secondary account, leaving your personal account intact. Some people create a series of email accounts, but there is a point when email security turns into a psych problem. Try not to go there…
Next, consider the privacy of your friends and family. If you’re going to send group email notes, either create a group email address, or blind copy the majority of the people involved. If you’re going to send a group thank you for example, send it to yourself, and then BCC everyone else. The broad numbers of people who have given you their email addresses will be protected from casual theft. And note that phishing (the most common purpose for stealing email addresses) is looking for these exact opportunities. So, give your friends a break, and keep their email addresses private.
If your email does get hacked, don’t email everyone in the TO: or CC: columns. Use BCC: only.
We’ll look into email security more in future posts.