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Common E-mail Mistakes – Part 1

Posted By On March 16, 2007 @ 2:16 PM In E-Mail Help | No Comments

Q:
What are the 25 most common mistakes we all make in accordance to e-mail security?

A:
Okay, I must confess. No one wrote in and asked me that question, but I thought it was so important to cover, I had to get it in here somehow. Now, I know that 25 is a rather large number, but don’t worry. I’m not going to go over all of them in one day. We’ll do 12 of them today and the other 13 for tomorrow. So, make sure you stay tuned, because all 25 of them are very important to know! Alright, what do you say we get started?!

1.) Only Using One E-mail Account – We here at WorldStart have actually told you this before. It’s very important that you familiarize yourself with more than one e-mail program. You can’t think of your e-mail address like your home address. You need to have more than one! In all actuality, it’s best to have even up to three open e-mail accounts. That way, you can have one for your home e-mails, one for your office e-mails and an extra one for all the other things you do online. For example, always use your third account to sign up for newsletters, contests, etc. It’s also best to have maybe one paid e-mail account and the other two can be one of the free ones that are available today, such as Yahoo!, Hotmail or Gmail. With more than one account, you are saving yourself in the long run.

2.) Keeping the Spam Around – Have you ever had an e-mail account that just got spammed out? You know, pretty much all you ever received from that account was spam. So, after awhile, you probably got tired of it, but instead of switching to another e-mail client, you just started to accept it. Well, I’m here to tell you not to do that anymore! When one of your accounts gets spammed out, just get rid of it and start fresh. I know it’s easy to get attached to an e-mail program, because you’re familiar with it, etc., but it’s not healthy to keep all that spam around. It’s only going to get worse, so my advice is to get rid of it while you’re still somewhat ahead.

3.) Forgot to Close the Browser – Do you ever check your e-mail from another location apart from your home computer? You know, like the library or even maybe a cyber café. Well, when you do that, you have to make sure you log out of your e-mail account when you’re finished. Along with that, be sure that you always close down the browser window as well. If you don’t do this, your username may remain on the screen and it will really put you on target for some security risks.

4.) Forgot to Clear It – Here’s another important tip if you’re using another computer outside of your home. Always make sure you clear the browser cache, the history and your passwords. Most Web browsers will hold onto that information and even though it’s trying to save you time, it’s a hazard if you’re using a public computer. You never know who could get on that computer after you. Here are some quick instructions on how to do all of that, so you won’t ever have to worry about it.

In Internet Explorer, go to Tools, Internet Options and click on all three buttons that say, “Clear History,” “Delete Cookies” and “Delete Files.” In Firefox, you can simply use the keyboard combination of Ctrl + Shift + Del in the open browser window. Doing that will keep you much safer!

5.) Using Insecure Accounts – This one has a little more to do with larger corporations, but you never know when it could affect you. Often times, corporation employees are careless and they use their personal e-mail accounts for business purposes. If this happens, they are at risk of sending out sensitive information that could really hurt the company. Doing this could put their job at risk as well. Always use your personal account for personal items and leave everything else out.

6.) Forgot to Use the Telephone – We all know how convenient e-mail is, but in some cases, it’s not always the best option. If you’re going to be e-mailing something very sensitive or private, you might want to consider just picking up the telephone and doing it that way. In these types of cases, using the telephone is a much safer option to use than e-mail. It may take a few more minutes to do, but if it’s possible, just call.

7.) Forgot to Use the BCC – We’ve told you about the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) feature before in the newsletter, but I’m willing to guess that some of you still don’t use it. This works the best when you’re e-mailing multiple people. If you insert the e-mail addresses onto the BCC line, the recipients won’t be able to see any of the other e-mail addresses you’re sending the e-mail to. Now, don’t get this confused with the CC option either. BCC is really the way to go to keep everyone’s addresses safe and secure.

8.) Used the Reply All Button – Do you ever get confused as to whether you should hit the Reply or Reply All buttons when you’re replying to an e-mail message? If you click on Reply All, your reply will go to each and every e-mail address that the original message was sent to. Yes, it will go to the person you intended as well, but if you’re sending them a personal message, you don’t want everyone else to be able to see it. Always use Reply first. It’s a safer shot.

9.) Forwarding Spam – Did you know that forwarding e-mails can bring on a new batch of spam mail? Well, if you didn’t know before, you know now. If you aren’t careful, forwarding e-mails can pose a big security threat for you and the earlier recipients of the e-mail. When you forward an e-mail, make sure you delete all of the previous addresses first. This way, the person you forward the message to won’t be able to see the addresses of who all already got it. If you keep all the e-mail addresses on there, spammers can quickly grab up that entire list and just go to town. Everyone will get spammed, including you. And I know you don’t want that to happen!

10.) Forgot to Back It Up – Again, we here at WorldStart are always telling you to back up the data on your computer. Well, e-mails are no exception. If you’ve got important e-mails on your computer that you’re going to want to hang on to for awhile, don’t forget to back them up frequently. These types of e-mails could be anything from legal contracts to financial information or even personal information you want to keep. Either way, run a backup on them and you won’t ever have to worry about losing them for good. Read here for some tips on getting the backup process done easily.

11.) Mobile Access – Do you ever access your e-mail through a mobile device, such as your cell phone or a Blackberry? With today’s technology, you can check your e-mail from just about anywhere, but is it really safe? They are safe, but you have to remember a couple of things if you’re using this method. Sometimes, the software on your mobile device will not keep the e-mails you check on the server for very long. Therefore, certain e-mails will not be on your home or office computer later on when you need them. So, if you delete them from the device, they will be deleted from your Inbox as well. Check the default settings on your mobile device to make sure they are set to keep the e-mails around for as long as you need them. This is very important, especially for urgent e-mails.

12.) It’s Gone For Good – Yes, we’ve all done it. We’ve sent embarrassing e-mails to our friends or we received very inappropriate e-mails from other senders. When those come in, what do you do? Probably delete them right away, right? Well, when you delete them, are they gone for good? The answer is no. Just because you delete an e-mail from your Inbox or even your Deleted folder, the e-mails are not gone forever. They usually remain on your server until something else takes its place. Even then, they sometimes stay in backup folders and other remote servers for years. If this happens, spammers can get ahold of them and you know what happens after that. So, when you’re sending e-mails, think about what you’re writing in them. It may come back to haunt you later on.

Okay, that’s the last one for today. Like I said before, we’ll do the rest tomorrow, so don’t forget to check out that issue. If you think these 12 tips were good, wait until you see what I have for you next. You’re all going to be the safest e-mail users ever by the time we get done. And if that happens, my work here is complete. See you all tomorrow!

~ Erin


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