This is great advice from Susan Dolan. You would be surprised how many people don’t know this!
I often wonder how much time every day is spent by people in the world checking through their emails. Then I think how much of that time is actually wasted sifting through your Inbox to find the “real” mail you need to focus on. Junk emails, unsolicited mail, unwanted bulk messaging – whatever you call it, we all seem to receive it.
Spam email – promoting diet pills, male enhancement products and dating websites, among other things – may be distributed in record-breaking quantities by America (18.3% according to surveys conducted by SophosLabs earlier this year), but this does not necessarily mean that these emails originated in the United States. Many spam emails originate in overseas hard drives but use American email accounts (often hijacked) for content delivery.
So how can we prevent ourselves from receiving all of this spam email that we really never wanted in the first place?
First, there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent spam emails from landing in your Inbox:
- Be sure before you share your email address. Unless you really know the person or organization that you’re giving your email address to, keep it to yourself! Chat rooms and social networks are great for connecting with people, but not a place to be sharing your email address.
- Have two email addresses. A personal one that you give to family, friends and work associates, and a second one that you use when subscribing to newsletters, shopping online and for creating a profile on a website. Hotmail, for example, has a great anti-spam filter built in so you can easily see which emails are spam and which are not.
- Watch out for the check boxes! When you sign up for something or buy online, make sure you read the small print and opt out of receiving information by email. Quite often your information will be shared amongst a number of third parties, leaving you at risk of being spammed.
- Never “reply” to spam email to ask to be unsubscribed. By replying you are letting them know that your email account is active. Instead use the link provided at the bottom of the email to unsubscribe your address from their list.
- Use anti-spam software. Norton Internet Security, for example, filters any spam email into a Junk Mail folder separating it from your legitimate email. You may need to check the folder occasionally and tell the filter if anything in there is not spam, but once “trained” this software can really work for you.
Next, there are things you can do to stay safe online, avoiding a violation and breach of your cyber privacy by spam email. Here are a few hints and tips to ensure you cover yourself and stay secure online:
- Set up a second email account to receive your password reset information. If your primary email has been compromised, you don’t want the reset information to be sent to it. Setting up email accounts is free; have two and use them to back each other up.
- Don’t use your email to send sensitive information and data. If you do, delete the email from your Sent mail immediately, and then your Trash folder as well.
- Connect to your email address through an encrypted connection. This simply means utilizing the SSL tool (the lock can be found in your web browser) for Gmail and Yahoo accounts. For other accounts, a secure protocol such as IMAP or POP3 can be used. Be sure to do this on mobile access ports, as well as on your PC or Mac.
- Use very strong passwords with 15 or more characters. For example, use your home address number, college or pet name, with an anniversary date – something you can remember, but others (including people who know you) won’t ever be able to figure out.
- Use strong password retrieval questions. There is little point in using your favorite film or meal as your password retrieval question, and then writing about it on your preferred social media platform. Although innocent in your intentions, you are potentially giving others access to your email.
- Use the two-factor authentication tool on Gmail. This email provider has set up a two-factor authentication system, whereby the user not only provides their password, but also a secret code, heightening the security of the account.
Learn how to regain control over your email in case it is compromised. Plan the procedure ahead. Be sure you know who to contact or which number to call, and also what information you will need to provide the customer support services. It is far better to have this planned ahead than to find yourself rushing around to do it.
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