Thursday, March 31, 2011

E-mail Security

We've had a few breaches in e-mail around here lately. A couple of those were human error - people replied to a spam message and gave away critical access information. Others were folks who realized their e-mail was being used to send out numerous messages to everyone on their contact list about certain medical options to enhance aspects of their life. And NONE of these are good.

So what can you do?

First of all, never respond to a message and include critical account information. In this particular spam incident, people were asked to provide their e-mail address and their e-mail password. Thinking that they were writing to a system administrator, they did so. And suddenly strangers had full access to their accounts. It was quickly discovered and corrected. But a lesson was learned. If someone sends you an e-mail, they obviously already know your e-mail address! Why would they be asking for it again? And you should NEVER send your password to someone you don't know. The name on the e-mail was unknown, yet people were trusting. Just don't go down that road.

Next, if you have Gmail, Google is providing users with a Gmail Security Checklist. This interactive checklist will walk you through 20 different items you can do to help keep your e-mail (and your computer) more secure. Each step has a brief explanation to help you understand why it is important and how to do it. You don't have to do all 20 at once...Google will track your progress so you can complete it over several sessions.

And you don't even have to have Gmail to benefit. Anyone can go through the steps and many of the things they suggest will apply to whatever computer, browser, software, or e-mail account you have.

A few minutes of your time is definitely better than the time it will take to resolve a security breach and to apologize to all your friends and co-workers for those invitations to purchase select pharmaceuticals.

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