While social media may change how we communicate with certain people, one can argue that we will always rely upon e-mail for important messages and transferring files. We opt in to receive newsletters and alerts from organizations and favorite shops, and sometimes we may wish to send a picture or document to a friend or co-worker under a veil of privacy. When it appears an e-mail account has been breached, however, we must make sure such a violation of privacy doesn't occur again. If you keep sensitive data stored in e-mail folders, you definitely don't want somebody poking around looking for information to use against you or to steal your identity.
How do you prevent e-mail theft? There will always be the risk of it happening, no matter what you do, but there are steps you can take to decrease the odds. Here are a few suggestions to better protect yourself and your data.
1) Use a very unique password of various characters. These days when you register for an account online, the site will indicate to you the degree of difficulty in figuring out your chosen password. Using a simple word, rather than a string of random characters, is more likely to be discovered, so you want to choose your e-mail password wisely.
2) Change your password periodically. We don't do this enough, for e-mail and password-protected sites. Yes, it can be a pain to go through the cycle and having to remember all the new prompts, but you will feel better for having done it.
3) Avoid clicking through dubious e-mail messages. Occasionally you may receive an "important message" allegedly from a bank or credit card company requiring information. You're given a link to click or something to download. More than likely, this is a setup to “phish” into your account and obtains private information. Delete these messages where applicable - you can usually tell they are fake by checking for typos or checking to TO: header in your e-mail. If the message isn't sent directly to you, but you are blind carbon-copied, that is typically a sign.
When at all possible, try to refrain from printing e-mail messages with sensitive information as well. The less information you make public, the less likely you will experience a breach in security. It is not uncommon to use a free service like Yahoo or gmail for non-work and public e-mail exchanges, so consider a secondary address for this type of communication. If you do print out messages, particularly anything with headers and passwords, take the time to shred them when you are finished with them.