Andrew Milich / 1.29.2023

Email security best practices—keep your data safe and sound

Staying safe online is easy with the right habits and tools. Learn all about email security best practices and how to implement them.
Email security and encryption features list.
Your email account is so much more than a communication tool. You use it to log into various platforms or access cloud storage full of personal and sensitive files. With cybercrime on the rise, you should go the extra mile to ensure your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.The good news is that staying one step ahead of prying eyes isn’t as complicated as it may seem. There are numerous ways to fortify your email account so that nobody but you and the recipient can see your correspondence.Email security best practices evolve constantly, and this guide will help you implement all the necessary measures. By following the steps below, you’ll gain full control over your data and online identity:
  1. Set strong passwords
  2. Use two-factor authentication
  3. Look out for phishing attacks
  4. Leverage a capable antivirus solution
  5. Always connect to secured networks
  6. Encrypt your email

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Review and update your passwords

Before deciding on high-tech privacy measures and email security services, you must get the basics right. Even the most advanced solutions won’t matter much if your passwords are easy to guess. By setting a strong, complex password, you can avoid some of the most common attacks:
Attack typeHow it works
Brute force attackUsing a malicious program, the hacker tries every possible combination of characters, typically using common passwords as a starting point
Dictionary attackIt is similar to a brute force attack, but it uses variations of common words or the user’s personal details like name and birthday
Credential stuffingThe attacker tries different combinations of credentials stolen from a hacked account to enter their victim’s other accounts
To prevent breaches, don’t use basic words or sequential numbers in your passwords. Your safest bet is a random password generator that creates a complex combo of alphanumeric and special characters. You can use a password strength checker to see how much time a typical malicious program would need to bypass your security measures.If you’re worried about forgetting your login credentials, you can store them someplace safe. From hand-written notes to comprehensive password managers, there are many ways to ensure you don’t lock yourself out of the account.

Use two-factor authentication (2FA)

While strong passwords are a solid security foundation, you should add an extra protection layer by using 2FA. It involves another verification method beyond login credentials, typically a one-time code sent to you via SMS or phone call.Even if someone guesses your password, they can’t access your email without the code. An unexpected 2FA prompt can signal that someone’s trying to log into your account, letting you take swift action and change your password.Make sure the device you use for 2FA is trusted. It’ll most likely be your phone, so don’t forget to password-protect the device as well.

Beware of phishing

Not every password attack happens behind the scenes. In many cases, users unknowingly hand out their login details by falling for phishing attacks. It’s a type of social engineering malpractice where a third party impersonates a brand or institution, convincing a user to visit a spoof link and enter their login info.Phishing attacks can be elaborate and sophisticated because the hacker might create an almost exact copy of an email you’d get from a legitimate sender. They can nail the font, brand colors, and other details, making it hard to tell it’s a scammer.Still, there are tell-tale signs that an email isn’t coming from a trusted source:
  • Spelling or grammar mistakes—Read the email thoroughly to spot broken English and unnatural phrasing
  • False sense of urgency“Your account will be suspended in 12 hours if you don’t confirm your details”
  • Strange greetings"Dear User/Member” (most legitimate businesses use the customer’s name)
  • Unusual email address[email protected]
  • Claims about received payments or rewards—Random payments, gift cards, and similar rewards are almost always fake
Stay on the lookout for the above signs, and never click on any suspicious links. The same goes for attachments you’re uncertain about because they might contain malware that can corrupt your entire device.

Choose the right antivirus software

A solid antivirus platform is a must in the online world. Comprehensive solutions offer email protection, automatically scanning links and attachments to give you peace of mind. You’ll get an alert in case of any weaponized files, which helps you avoid most attacks.As online threats evolve, antivirus programs should receive frequent updates with security patches. Make sure automatic updates are turned on to prevent attackers from exploiting potential vulnerabilities.Your antivirus will likely offer real-time protection, but it doesn’t hurt to run a manual scan every once in a while. If you catch any malware, you can remove it before it does any severe damage.

Stick to trusted networks

Public Wi-fi is handy but can be quite dangerous—especially for business users. If you must take your work outside the office, be careful about the networks you connect to.Unsecured connections are gold mines for malicious parties, as they’re easy to hijack. Skilled hackers use them to execute man-in-the-middle attacks by positioning themselves between endpoints. This lets them spy on conversations and steal sensitive data.Some public networks implement strong security protocols, but they’re few and far between. It’s best to assume the connection isn’t safe by default and take extra precautions. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) software can help, as it masks your personally identifiable information and encrypts the connection, lowering the chances of an attack.

Encrypt your email

Email encryption is a crucial security practice preventing cybercriminals (or anyone else) from viewing the contents of your email. It turns your data into strings of unintelligible characters to make it unreadable to third parties.There are three encryption types that keep your emails private:
Encryption typeProtection level
Encryption at restKeeps data secure while stored on a device or the cloud
Encryption in transitEncrypts data traveling through servers until it reaches the recipient
End-to-end encryption (E2EE)Provides complete data protection between endpoints
End-to-end encryption is the highest standard for secure email communication. It offers complete privacy and ensures that only the recipient with the decryption key can decipher your email.The encryption type primarily depends on your email service provider (ESP). Most services offer some level of protection, usually not enough to give you full data ownership. Platforms like Gmail or Outlook might keep your data safe from attackers to some extent, but they can read the contents of your emails and use what they see to target you with ads.They do this by storing decryption keys on their servers, which is not the case with E2EE. The user creates and holds the decryption key, so metadata and email contents are invisible to anyone but them and the recipient.ESPs like Skiff leverage the full power of E2EE to let users send private emails without the risk of monitoring or interceptions.
Choose secure communicationSkiff Mail offers comprehensive email security features, ensuring your sensitive information remains protected
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Use Skiff Mail to enjoy ironclad safety and privacy

Skiff Mail combines cutting-edge security measures to offer a comprehensive privacy-first email service. Using E2EE based on hybrid cryptography, the platform ensures your online traffic can’t be tracked or analyzed by anyone. Even Skiff’s team can’t access your login credentials, decryption keys, or email contents, so you get unparalleled confidentiality.The best part is you don’t need to be tech-savvy to use Skiff—the intuitive UI lets all users maximize their productivity without privacy concerns.As an open-source platform, Skiff is completely transparent about its client code and everything that happens at the back end. You can check out the whitepaper for a detailed insight into the security protocols and other relevant aspects of the service.If you’re a crypto enthusiast or investor, Skiff is an excellent partner for you. It seamlessly integrates with:Sign up with your wallet, and you can keep your conversations and transactions completely anonymous.

Expand your workspace with Skiff’s privacy-oriented products

Skiff Mail is only one part of the platform’s productivity ecosystem. You can explore three additional products to supercharge your workflow:
  1. Skiff Pages—Collaborate and share sensitive documents in a secure, decentralized environment
  2. Skiff Drive—Keep your most important files private with 10 GB of free storage and seamless syncing among connected devices
  3. Skiff Calendar—Stay organized and schedule events while keeping all their details private
Besides browsers, Skiff is available on iOS, Android, and macOS, so you can work wherever you want while maintaining exceptional security.

Sign up for Skiff’s generous free plan

Skiff ensures privacy from the get-go, so you don’t have to leave any personal information to sign up. Get started in three quick steps:
  1. Visit the signup page
  2. Create a free account
  3. Start using Skiff products
The free plan lets you access the entire workspace and features typically available only within paid plans. A good example is email search, which many competitors either cap or don’t offer at all without payment. With Skiff, you get unlimited free search, so you never get bogged down in threads while looking for specific info.You also get four aliases to manage multiple email accounts effortlessly. If you decide to upgrade to the Essential, Pro, or Business plan, you can unlock:If you’ve been using the same ESP for years and don’t want to lose important threads, you can migrate to Skiff in no time. The platform doesn’t store unencrypted copies of your emails or files, so you can enjoy next-level security from the moment you sign up.

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