For many, email is a communication necessity. But email is also a mechanism used by attackers to gain access to your most sensitive information.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Cybersecurity Awareness Month was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance & the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in October 2004. It was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. This year, during Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the Jefferson County Cyber Security team is sharing several articles during October to help you better protect your online information as well as sharing ideas about how to have fun with passwords.
In this article, we share information on ways to protect your email accounts and the information you store in your email inbox.
Email is an indispensable communication tool, however, it is also a tool popular with cyber attackers. Cyber attackers try to trick you into clicking on malicious links that can compromise your entire computer as well as your username and password. The emails attackers send can be very difficult to discern from real email. In this article, we focus on 3 actions you can take to protect your email from becoming a pathway for successful criminal attacks.
- Use Strong passwords/passphrases – check out this article for more information on why it is important to know Am I Using a Good Password?
- Use Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) – check out articles #5 ,#6 and #7 on this page for more on Configuring MFA.
- Be aware YOU are a target. Email is an easy and inexpensive way for you to be targeted. In addition to the recommendations below, check out this article on Sophisticated Phishing Emails and Why They’ll Trick You to see examples of phishing emails and learn how you can avoid being tricked.
- To identify potentially malicious emails, ask these questions of every email that is asking you to take an action? Examples of actions criminals ask you to perform in emails are: click a link, open an attachment, respond with sensitive information including typing your username and password. If the email is asking you to do any of these things - be cautious! Consider deleting the email or contact the sender by phone or text message to ask if their email request was legitimate. Some other key items that might help you spot a malicious email are:
- Is this an unexpected communication from this person or company?
- Is this too good to be true?
- Is there a sense of urgency or threatening language in the email?
- Are there spelling or grammatical mistakes?
- If the email is from someone you know, does the tone of the message sound unusual compared to what you’re used to?
- To protect yourself from potentially malicious emails, consider taking these actions:
- Hover but don’t click on links – it is generally safe to open an email as long as you do not open the attachments or click on the enclosed links.
- Report malicious work emails to your company’s IT support.
- Mark unsolicited emails as spam or junk instead of unsubscribing; unsubscribing usually requires you to click on a link.
You can find more information to protect your home or business on Secure Jeffco.