Email has become pervasive into society as a means of spreading information about everything from celebrities all the way to sensitive documents meant only to be read by a single person. While the former is reasonably innocuous if stolen, what do you do if something were to intercept the latter? For this reason, if you’re working on secure information or sensitive information, it’s nice to have an intercept-free email that you can count on to relay messages without being eavesdropped on.
That being said, let’s get to the top three ways to secure your email:
1. Firewall Up the Whole Network
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times – few things can reach the usefulness for protection that a software (or hardware) firewall can. If you still lack a firewall on your computer, you’re leaving your security up to chance. Sure, you might never get a virus or become a part of a botnet, but that’s a slim chance if everyone with half a brain and a keyboard can get access to your PC. To the end of Emails, a good virus scanner and firewall combo ensure that you not only have every email scanned, but you also maintain control of whether or not an email gains access to the internet. Most firewalls and anti-virus combos also include proactive email protection. My personal recommendation is the Comodo Firewall (NOT THE ANTIVIRUS!) and NOD32.
2. Encrypt Your Emails
Encryption is a little more complicated than a simple firewall installation, but will ensure that company emails (as well as private ones) never make it into the hands of Wi-Fi sniffers. If you haven’t already, install Mozilla’s Thunderbird, which is a great free software that works across all platforms of Windows and has tremendous customization options. To that end, after installing Thunderbird, you’ll need an extension called “Enigmail” and GNUPGP, a software to make the encryption process more streamlined for you. Install everything and run the GNUPGP installer. Then install Enigmail into Thunderbird and you’re almost there to making the PGP key necessary for encryption. Generate a key, and find a recipient’s key inside the PGP search engine and with a single click of the small encryption icon in the corner, you’re already sending encrypted emails.
3. Follow Basics That Will Keep Everyone Safe
Aside from encryption, digital signing, and a good firewall, there’s also a basic procedures that will keep you from being the target of various attacks. These methods will also signal others that your emails are legitimate or have been compromised.
Send your emails with a descriptive title, so that others know it isn’t a false email.
Limit attachments to a minimum, if you must send something, use an online server medium or other, more secure means of making sure your document isn’t intercepted.
NEVER (and I repeat NEVER) just give out your email to every website that demands one of you. The smartest bet would be to use your company or personal email for exactly that – personal or company use. Set up a Gmail account for general purpose emails, this way, you get the great Gmail spam filter without compromising your personal email.