How to protect email from hackers—a concise guide

Cybersecurity can be a matter of a few healthy habits. Learn how to protect email from hackers by adopting these online defense best practices.
Over 90% of cyberattacks begin with a phishing email—a scam method designed to trick users into revealing their login credentials or downloading malicious software. With such concerning statistics, securing your email account is crucial for safe online communication.This guide will teach you how to protect your email from hackers by applying essential security measures. You’ll learn:
  • Which malicious software is the most dangerous?
  • Are standard email security protocols reliable?
  • Is there a trustworthy alternative to mainstream email services?
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How to keep your email secure—6 preventative measures

While a security-oriented email service is the only reliable way to keep your online privacy and safety intact, some personal measures can help protect your sensitive information.You can reduce the chance of a breach by following these safety practices:
  1. Create a strong password
  2. Use two-factor authentication
  3. Don’t open suspicious links or emails
  4. Update your software
  5. Declutter your apps and extensions
  6. Use an end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) email service

Create a strong password

A strong password is a combination of at least 10 characters, including:
  • Lowercase letters
  • Uppercase letters
  • Numbers
  • Symbols
When creating your password, never use common words or phrases to prevent dictionary attacks, which involve guessing a password by running through common words in dictionaries.Using a unique password for each account is equally important for secure email correspondence. It ensures you can recover your account in the case of a data breach and avoid a credential-stuffing attack. This increasingly common type of cyber attack can put your sensitive information at risk as hackers use stolen credentials to get into your email account.

Use two-factor authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication requires providing two codes—one you’ve created (a password) and one you receive from your email provider (typically a one-time code sent to your mobile device).Using 2FA protects against unauthorized access even if someone manages to steal your password. With 2FA enabled, hackers would need physical access to your device to complete the authentication process.This additional step significantly reduces the risk of a breach, as an attacker is unlikely to have both your password and the second authentication element.

Don’t open suspicious links or emails

You may receive a message from seemingly legitimate sources, such as banks, social media platforms, or online services, with the address closely resembling the trusted sender. Still, if you look carefully, you will notice subtle differences, such as a missing letter or a special character. It’s a clear sign of a phishing attempt.You can also recognize phishing schemes by the generic nature of the message. The scammer may ask for information that was not previously required or claim that an issue with your account requires urgent attention.The phishing process typically looks like this:
  1. A hacker sends an email impersonating a trusted source
  2. The email contains a link that leads to a fake web page
  3. The user has to fill out personal information, such as first and last name, Social Security number, and credit card number
Even if you don’t provide your credit card number, the scammer can now access your passcode, which is dangerous if you use the same password for multiple accounts.Besides phishing, opening emails from unverified sources is risky because of malware. Malicious software often hides within seemingly harmless links or files.

Update your software

Software updates include bug fixes, performance improvements, and security patches that address current vulnerabilities.Not updating your software can expose your devices and data to various threats, including malware attacks and unauthorized email access.The following table is an overview of the most common types of attacks and the level of security threat they carry:
Malware typeHow they attack youLevel of security threat
Viruses Infect and modify files, spreading through devices and networksModerate
TrojansDeceive you by disguising as legitimate software, gaining unauthorized accessHigh
SpywareSecretly collect your personal data and online activitiesModerate
KeyloggersRecord your keystrokes to capture sensitive informationHigh
RootkitsConceal unauthorized access and control, making detection difficultHigh
The Trojan is the most dangerous for email security. The attacker first uses a phishing method to get you to download their code, after which they have free access to your personal data, financial details, and confidential communication.

Declutter your apps and extensions

Keeping apps and extensions you no longer use carries security risks. Cybercriminals often target vulnerable or obsolete software to get their hands on sensitive information.By decluttering and regularly updating your apps and extensions, you lower the risk of attack and strengthen your device security.

Use an end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) email service

E2E encrypted email services prioritize user privacy by ensuring that only the sender and recipient have access to the contents of their messages. This type of security protection is effective because:
  • The message is encrypted on the sender's device with a unique encryption key
  • The encrypted email is a jumbled set of characters during transit
  • Decryption requires the recipient's unique key to unlock and decrypt the message
The key remains securely stored on your device and is not shared with the service provider, so your information stays safe even if hackers compromise the server.
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Why is end-to-end encryption superior?

Most Big Tech email services typically offer only basic protection, leaving your emails pretty vulnerable to unauthorized access or interception.TLS (Transport Layer Security) and S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) are the most common security protocols, even though they’re far from the safest ones. The table below highlights their weak points:
Encryption occurs during transit but does not guarantee at-rest safetyThe sender and recipient must have compatible S/MIME certificates
Email content is available to the email service providerEmails are vulnerable to attacks if private keys are compromised on the provider’s servers
The content is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks Email providers may have access to the decrypted content
Gmail, Outlook, and other mainstream email services don’t provide E2E encryption within their free plans but rely on encryption in transit to protect your messages. Luckily, you can find excellent privacy- and security-oriented alternatives like Skiff Mail, offering strong E2EE to all its users by default.

How to secure your email with Skiff

As a security-first email provider, Skiff offers device-based E2E encryption to all users. Check out the security procedure in the following table:
Type of keyWhat’s it for?
Public encryption keyUsed to encrypt or scramble the data on your device. It's called the public key because you share it with the recipient
Private decryption keyUsed to decrypt or unscramble the data on the recipient’s device. It’s private, as only the recipient has it
Since only you and the intended recipient have the keys, not even the provider can read your messages, which ensures no third party can collect your email data.The encryption and decryption keys are not stored on the provider’s server. You get a secure and private communication channel with no risk of man-in-the-middle attacks. Even if an attacker intercepts the communication at any point, they cannot read the messages because the decryption key is available only to the intended recipient.Skiff has smart systems that identify and block phishing emails and malicious attachments, protecting you from scams and preventing harmful software from reaching your inbox.If you prioritize anonymity online, you will appreciate Skiff’s zero-knowledge login policy. The Secure Remote Password algorithm allows you to sign in without filling out personal information. This security measure prevents anyone from getting your login credentials because they’ll never be stored on the server.To stay completely anonymous, you can use a crypto wallet as your login credentials—Skiff integrates with:
Source: Skiff

Skiff gives you four end-to-end-encrypted products

Besides Skiff Mail, a free account grants you access to three additional mutually-integrated end-to-end encrypted products:
  1. Skiff Pages—Excellent alternative to Google Docs that lets you create, edit, and share documents securely
  2. Skiff DriveCloud-based storage that keeps your private data safe
  3. Skiff Calendar—A secure organizational tool that syncs with your email account
These four products make up Skiff’s productivity suite that provides the highest level of protection and rivals Google Workspace in every crucial aspect.Additional features that come with the free Skiff Mail account include:
  • 10 GB of storage
  • Five folders and labels
  • Four email aliases
  • Six workspace collaborators
  • Email scheduling
  • Full-content email search
  • Auto-reply
  • Custom signatures
You can access these features on Android or iOS devices by downloading Skiff’s designated apps. Whether you want to switch from Apple Mail, Gmail, Yahoo, or another service, use Skiff’s one-click migration to safely transfer your data.
Source: Skiff

Sign up for a free Skiff account in a matter of minutes

To start using Skiff’s E2EE ecosystem, follow these simple steps:
  1. Go to the signup page
  2. Create your username and password
  3. Start using Skiff Mail and other productivity tools
While Skiff’s free plan is incredibly generous, you can opt for one of their affordable paid plans if you need more storage or want additional features like custom domains.To learn about Skiff’s security practices in detail, check out its whitepaper. The entire codebase is available on GitHub thanks to Skiff’s open source principle that values transparency.

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