Types of Email Security Threats and How to Reduce Them

With email becoming an important means of communication, perpetrators have started using it to serve their purpose. There are number of ways in which your email can pose a risk to your computer, data and financial security. Here are four biggest threats to your email security along with the tips on how to reduce the risk.

Spam

The day email communication was used as marketing tool, spam has been around. It is the most common threat to the security of your email account, although many people consider it as more of an inconvenience than a threat.

It slows your PC down, reduces productivity and is very annoying when you’re trying to concentrate but is sometimes dangerous as more recently hackers have been known to disguise spyware, viruses and malware as spam.

The ever-friendly ‘junk mail’ folder only offers basic levels of security so don’t be tempted to rely solely on this to deter spam from interrupting and endangering your computer.

Spyware

email-security-risksUnlike spam, spyware is pesky as it is designed to be undetectable by the average PC user and it is usually downloaded when they install shareware programs on their computer.

Spyware is the online equivalent of being stalked; the hidden program tracks every digital move you make and sends this via the internet to the hackers themselves.

The most immediate danger is the hackers gaining access to confidential corporate documents (i.e. product launch plans, patent applications, customer details and strategic plans).

Aside from firewalls, you can regularly scan your computer using anti-spyware software or encrypt your emails to make sure no one can read or modify your data.

Viruses

If you thought spam was annoying, viruses are even harder to shift.

In the digital age, viruses have gained in confidence and complexity meaning they are even harder to cure once your PC is infected. Marketers’ reputation takes another knock here as many of today’s viruses attack through ‘promotional emails’ arriving in employee inboxes.

To reduce your vulnerability to viruses I would recommend installing anti-virus software. Like with most things, the ones you have to pay for are better but it is worth it as viruses have been known to delete files on individual PCs and company-wide servers. Norton, Avast, McAfee and Symantec are some of the most popular options.

The worst thing about viruses is that, like a human infection, they are known to adapt so keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date is essential.

Phishing

Not only will this threat to your email security attempt to steal your personal details but also your financial information.

A typical phishing email will ask for credit card numbers, logins/IDs for financial accounts, access to CRM databases and bank account details and will appear to come from familiar and trusted organizations such as your bank, building society or insurer.

Being caught in the phishing net can be avoided through always double checking with the organization if you doubt the legibility of the message. If you receive an ‘urgent’ or ‘authorizing’ message claiming to be from your bank which asks for account numbers, card numbers or your sort code then the best option is to ring them or visit the branch to confirm.

If you receive a phishing email you can forward it to spam@uce.gov or reportphishing@antiphishing.org who are on a mission to stop phishing.

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