4 Email Account Security Tips

submitted by Peter Chronis

These days criminals are using a variety of techniques to compromise and gain access to accounts across the Internet.  They then often use these compromised accounts to send spam or gain unauthorized access to a victim’s private information (emails, banking information, etc.).

Just take a look at all the recent stories about stolen passwords and hacked accounts from some of the most popular sites on the Internet today.

phishingpasswordsTo reduce the risk of getting your accounts hacked into or compromised, we recommend that you take the following precautions to protect yourself:

1. Be Careful What You Click
Never reply to emails or click on email links that ask for your username and password. Our spam prevention partners have tracked a significant increase in phishing worldwide. Criminals often use phishing scams to help gather credentials.  Phishing is a term used to describe false emails sent from spammers claiming to be sent from a legitimate company (for example, EarthLink or well-known banks) and asking for your username and password. These fraudulent emails may look quite authentic – so beware.

2. Use Varying Usernames and Passwords
Don’t use the same username and password across multiple sites like email, banking and social network sites. Recent security research revealed that, on average, people use the same credentials to log into 49 different sites. Email usernames and passwords can be acquired from security breaches suffered by other service or product providers (tens of millions of credentials have been reported this year alone by other service or product providers). If you are using the same password for your EarthLink account as other accounts that were breached, then spammers may use this information to access your EarthLink email and send spam.

For these reasons, it’s good to have a system to generate strong, unique passwords for all the sites you use. Just follow these three simple steps.

You can change your EarthLink password here at any time.

3. Run an Antivirus Program to Curb Malware Infections
Some malware today is designed to run stealthily on your computer while it records the usernames and passwords to sites you access (your Web Mail, online banking, etc.).  Some security firms are reporting malware infection rates as high as 1 in 3 computers worldwide.  To protect yourself, the first step is to run an antivirus scan on your computer.  This can be done with any antivirus program of your choice.  EarthLink offers Norton 360 Online as a premium antivirus subscription with a Free 30-Day Trial if you want to check it out.

4. Choose Your Secret Hint and Word Wisely
A secret word or hint is often used to verify your identity when account changes are being made. You should not use information associated with you that is readily available on the Internet or through other sources. If you are unsure, try doing a quick Internet search for yourself to see what you can find.  If you can find it, so can a hacker.

Stay safe out there and never hesitate to reach out if you have additional questions around email or password security.

For further support from EarthLink, visit our Knowledgebase Support Center.

Password Security – Change them After the Holidays

Password security is always important (for tips, check out this article!), but EarthLink would like to remind you to be especially aware during the holidays.  Thanks to massive retailer discounts and promotions, the time around December is the largest online shopping season.  This means that credit card information is being entered more often than any other time in the year…and this is attractive to phishers (here is an article letting you know how to spot spammy fraud email) and hackers.

An easy solution is to change your passwords to and delete your credit card information from retail sites (like Amazon.com or Walmart.com) when you’re done using them for gift purchases. And always make sure that you follow the general guidelines of password security, and have a happy holiday season!

WiFi Security Tips from EarthLink

WiFi Security is important, so here are EarthLink’s top 7 tidbits of advice:

  1. Customize Settings: Your WiFi router probably arrived with a default network name (called your SSID) and log in info (username/password). Change all of these to be custom the first time you use your router.
  2. Nonsense passwords are strong passwords: If your password is something relating to your life (“welovebaseball”) or a birth date, or even easy to remember, change it.  Make sure it has at least 8 characters and is impossible to remember (though DO remember to write it down and store it in a secure place).
  3. Get turned on: Your WiFi router has built-in security settings, so make sure they are active. (If there are multiple possibler settings, select WPA2 or, if that isn’t available, WPA.
  4. Don’t Broadcast: If your router options include “Disable SSID Broadcast“, make sure it’s selected.
  5. Center your Router: Move your router away from walls, as close as possible to the center of your home to both increase the performance of your network and stop “bleed” (the broadcast of your signal outside of its intended area), so fewer people have access to it and your WiFi security is stronger.
  6. Protect from Your Computer: EarthLink members can download the EarthLink Protection Control Center (it’s free!), or purchase a low-cost subscription to Norton 360. These products include built-in firewalls, antivirus, and anti-spyware features.

4 Easy Ways to Keep your Passwords Safe

The internet is becoming more and more entwined with our daily lives and well-being.  We can bank online, shop online, socialize online, and conduct business online…all of which require us to have accounts that hold sensitive information (credit card and bank numbers, phone numbers, mailing addresses, the identities of our friends and family).  The only thing stopping people from seeing this info is the password we chose to protect each account.  Here are four basic rules (that can’t be mentioned enough) you should follow to make sure your passwords are as safe as they can be.

  1. Have a different password for each account/service you use
    1. If the password for your online banking is the same password you use for your email, then you’re exposing yourself to unecessary risk.
    2. Have separate passwords to make sure that, in the event that one becomes compromised, the others are still safe.
  2. Change your passwords at least three times a year
    1. You can never be too careful, so change up your passwords every four months
    2. (TIP: Don’t write down these passwords anywhere someone can see them)
  3. Make your passwords unique and hard-to-guess
    1. Don’t let your password be something generic (“Password1″)…
    2. or easy-to-guess (like your birthday or child’s name).
  4. Keep your passwords a secret
    1. No one should know your passwords
    2. If you do HAVE to tell someone your password, change it the moment they’re done using whatever account you granted access to
  • If the password for your online banking is the same password you use for your email, then you’re exposing yourself to unecessary risk.
  • Have separate passwords to make sure that, in the event that one becomes compromised, the others are still safe.