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.

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.

Keep your Company’s URL Protected

EarthLink has discussed getting your business online and how to choose the right URL for your business, but did you know your URL should be “protected”?  To find out what we mean, here are three tools that you can add to your EarthLink Web Hosting domain registration.

Domain Guard
When you spend the time to find the most appropriate URL for your company, you’re obviously going to spend time and effort making sure people will recognize it (so they visit).  But, other businesses can register similar domain names (either as an attempt to take business from you, or by mistake).  Either way this is a situation you want to avoid!  With Domain Guard, EarthLink alerts you when a similar domain name is registered, so you can respond (to protect your trademarks, copyrights, and branding efforts)!

Private Registration
When registering domains, your information (name, address, email address) is stored for anyone to look up (should they want to see who owns which URLs).  With EarthLink’s private registration, your personal information is not recorded, and you’re protected from unwanted solicitations and spam!

Domain Monitor
Did you settle for registering a “.biz” or similar URL instead of a “.com” because the domain you wanted was already owned, but not active?  EarthLink’s Domain Monitor alerts you when existing domain names become available, so you can register the URL(s) you really want!

Are You Prepared for a Disaster?

What if you lost your entire IT infrastructure in a matter of hours, would your business survive?

Disaster recovery planning is essential to continue business operations after disasters occur. This could be anything from a prolonged power outage to a total infrastructure loss caused by catastrophic events. The goal of disaster recovery is to limit the effects of a disaster and take the necessary steps to ensure that the resources, personnel, and business processes are able to continue operation after a disaster occurs.

If you don’t currently have a plan in place, here are some things to think about:

  • Determine the minimal amount of downtime your business can sustain during a disaster and design your plan around it.
  • Disasters can be anything from a virus breakout to damage caused by server weather.
  • Get executive leadership buy in and perform a Business Impact Analysis to identify risk, and determine critical business processes necessary to run your business.
  • Identify a disaster response team made up of key members of critical business units.
  • Document critical infrastructure and business components and make sure key data is backed up and stored in an alternate location.
  • Keep important contact information and a list of 3rd party venders, in a safe place, if the services they provide are critical to your business.
  • Continually test your plan and modify it as necessary.

Disaster recovery planning is not only about recovery but also about prevention. Make sure critical systems are configured for full redundancy and high availability.  Have multiple electrical feeds and system power backed up by a UPS and generator. Make sure servers and desktops are patched and virus software is up-to-date. All of these items are preventative measures that can help minimize your disaster risk.

Remember that business needs, and the threats to your business, are constantly changing. All of these items will affect your disaster recovery plan, so it is important that you revisit it anytime a significant change is made. Good luck!

If you are interested in learning more about developing an effective disaster recovery plan, contact your EarthLink representative.