Securing Your Email In An Insecure World

by Madison Lockwood

Computers have simplified millions of people’s lives. With the advent of online technology we can be more productive in the office, organize household matters, and communicate with others around the globe. Do you ever think it’s all too good to be true? Well, you’d be smart to question the overall ease and efficiency of the web. The sad truth is, along with these perks there are a few major pitfalls. And if you aren’t aware of them now, you may be in for a rude awakening.

So many people get excited about the wide-reaching possibilities of an email system. Indeed, it is staggering to think about how you can connect with someone on the other side of the world with just a click of a button. Unfortunately, however, sometimes by clicking the mouse you are doing more than reaching out to a faraway friend. You may also be inviting email viruses and scams into your mailbox.

What is spam anyway?

Email spam is also called unsolicited bulk email - like junk mail in your computer system. In other words, it is email that you have not asked to receive. When we say “bulk email,” we are usually referring to one message that is sent to more than 200 email recipients at a time.

How is spam targeted?

Basically, if you participate in any newsgroups, forums, or post your email address on a personal or professional website, you can be targeted for spam. A spam mailing list will be created by combing electronic newsgroups and mailing lists, or by conducting a broad address search online via “spambots” that roam the net collecting email addresses.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a relatively new form of email scam and it’s a serious one. What it refers to is an email that claims to be from a legit corporation (like Citibank, PayPal, eBay etc.), but it is really a spoof. Phishing can be tough to spot because it can look pretty slick. The email will come with a return address, a logo or a brand that seems on the up-and-up, links to other sites etc. But whoever is behind the scam is trying to get your financial info and rip off your identity. Studies show that 5% of the people who receive these fake emails respond to the “phisher.”

Now that you know what these terms mean, how can you avoid dealing with them?

Clearly, the answer is with an expert email security system. No doubt, new scams will be popping up before you know it. We haven’t even discussed the horrors of email “worms” and “viruses.”

What can be done?

  • Use a web host with a secure email system that will control spam, maintain your privacy, and protect you from email viruses. A good web host believes that all individuals have the right to send and receive secure emails around the clock.

  • The first step is to monitor the spam that comes into your email mailbox and then report any scams to the Anti-Spam League or the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
  • Be wary of any emails that ask you for your personal information, especially financial details. Do not give out your credit card or bank account info unless you are on a secure server.
  • Be wary of email attachments. When in doubt, don’t open them!
  • Make a point of checking your account balances online to see if there are any sudden withdrawals that you did not authorize.
  • Use anti-virus software and be sure to update it regularly (such as Microsoft patches).
  • Think about installing a web browser tool bar that will alert you if a known spammer or phisher is trying to reach you (such as Earthlink ScamBlocker or eBay’s tool bar).

About the Author
Madison Lockwood is a customer relations associate, specializing in small business development, for Apollo Hosting. Apollo Hosting provides website hosting, ecommerce hosting, vps hosting, and web design services to a wide range of customers.

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