These days, email is such a prevalent part of both our personal and professional lives that we use email almost automatically and naturally. Sometimes we might not realise that our actions can compromise the privacy and safety of our personal information, and even the information of the other people in our contact lists. There are a few simple things to keep in mind that will enhance your email security.

Learn to identify scam emails. The old adage, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is’ still holds true to this day. Although it might be nice to see emails with subject lines proclaiming that you’ve won the lottery, or that you’ve received a prize from your bank and need to confirm your banking details, or that a prince from Nigeria would like to gift you with millions of dollars for helping him, you need to understand that these kinds of emails are only good for putting in your ‘Spam’ folder.

Always be suspicious of clicking any links in emails. They may be phishing attempts to get your information, as they would lead you to a non-official, falsified site that is made to look legitimate. Any information that you enter at these websites are now unsecure. In addition, by clicking on links or banners on these emails, you may inadvertently download and install keyloggers or Trojans onto your computer, which compromises the security of everything you have typed and/or stored, and allows malicious people to have access to your computer.

Never open attachments immediately. You first need to do a thorough virus scan, using an up-to-date antivirus programme, on all attachments you receive. This goes for attachments that come from familiar email addresses, because the accounts of your friends, family, or business associates may become compromised, and you never know if the attachment they’re sending you is legitimate.

Use more than one email account. In fact, experts recommend you have three: one for business-only purposes, one for personal use, and one ‘throw-away account’ that is for signing up to newsletters, contests, and other such things, so that spam doesn’t infest your main emails that you use for work or personal reasons. Whenever you receive too much spam in this ‘throw-away account’, you can immediately change and move on to use another one, which will thus not affect your business or personal emails.

Always log out of your email account after you’ve finished using it, and remember that the above are just the basics that will help keep your email usage safe. Constant vigilance is always needed to keep one of your most powerful communication tools safe.