In the online world, privacy has become a privilege. We’re communicating sophisticated information via email that is almost open for the whole world to see. In addition, an insecure email address can cost you a great deal with recurring spam and phishing attacks.
But how can you set up a secure email address? Is there anything you can do to make your email address secure from day one? Let’s go through five easy steps to create a secure email address from the get-go.
Choose a Secure Email Service Provider
It’s probably intuitive that the first step to setting up a secure email address is choosing an email service provider with robust security and privacy protocol. You basically get two options for a secure email service provider –a free email account and a paid email account. The location of servers, encryption, two-factor authentication, spam filtering, etc., determines how secure the provider is.
Here are the top 10 most secure email service providers –
- Zoho Mail
Download an Email Client
You view your emails from your email service provider’s servers when you check your emails online. The privacy of the server depends on its location and security measures. For example, a Swiss-based email server offers better privacy protection than North American servers due to different data protection laws and regulations. However, downloading an email client and saving emails on your local server overrides all these security concerns.
Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Mailbird, and Locus Notes are some of the most commonly used email clients. Outlook, Mailbird, and Locus Notes’ paid services are primarily used in medium or large corporations. Mozilla Thunderbird is the best choice if you want to use a similar service for your personal email. Thunderbird is free, and you don’t have to be a tech expert to set it up. It is also compatible with most encryption tools available in the market.
Encrypt Your Emails
After setting up your email client, the next step is to encrypt your emails. There are a few ways to set up PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryptions. One easy way is to install GPG (which stands for GnuPG, a tool based on PGP) and Enigmail extension. Adding PGP will not make you completely anonymous. Meaning, the “to” and “from” fields will still be visible, but the email’s content will not be accessible by anyone but the sender and the receiver.
The end-to-end encryption protocol sets a key for your computer and another one for you to share with the recipient. You will need access to both keys to decrypt an email. Even your email service provider cannot read the email’s content without it. Additionally, your data will remain secure and safe even if one of the keys is compromised. The encryption key is almost impossible to crack and, therefore, used by governments and other sophisticated data transfers.
When setting up your email, do not provide any personal information. Avoid using your full name or date of birth in your email address because an email address is the most misused private information. One wrong subscription and you might end up on a spamming list. It is even more dangerous when the email address reveals unnecessary personal information to unwanted parties.
However, it is not an option for many people because most professional email addresses require your real name. But you can still remain safe by making sure your email address is not visible on the web. Go to Sniff email — an online platform dedicated to sniffing out your email address from the web. Enter your email address in the search field and click fetch to find out if your email address exists on the web within a few seconds. Based on the results, you can take appropriate action to remove it.
Use Two-step Verification
Using two-factor authentication (2FA) for your email is an easy yet effective method to improve your personal email security. It makes sure that even if someone somehow gets access to your password, your email account is still secure. The odds of breaching both authentication system is close to zero if the second step of verification is set up correctly. Pretty much all major email service providers now offer 2FA. However, make sure you set up a biometric or device-based second step of verification that anyone cannot easily access.
The two-factor authentication works by sending a code or confirmation method to your mobile phone or secondary email address. For example, Gmail sends a push notification to your device when you try to log in with your password. You will have to confirm and authorize the login to access your device. Setting up 2FA also lets you know if someone is trying to access your account.
Email security is a crucial part of online safety, and it should be taken seriously. Setting up a secure email address from the beginning by following the steps mentioned above can help you protect your personal data. In addition to having a secure email address, you should always follow best email practices to stay safe from cyberattacks.