compromising your identityUnfortunately, nobody’s email is 100% hack-proof. Even the president of the United States isn’t immune, as President Obama discovered when Russian hackers infiltrated the White House’s unclassified computer system last year. Although no classified networks or information was compromised, the hackers were able to access and read the president’s correspondence to and from certain people. They didn’t do this by directly reading his email, but through the email archives of people within the White House with whom he regularly corresponds. Regardless of who you are, nobody wants strangers reading emails that aren’t intended for them. This is especially the case if your emails contain information that could seriously compromise your identity if your account were to be breached. You may not be able to completely keep your email from getting hacked, but you can take steps to ensure that any potential damage done is minimal.

How to keep your email from compromising your identity

1. Never send emails containing sensitive personal data. Most people are aware to watch out for phishing attempts by strangers to get your information, but what about emails you send to people you know? If you wouldn’t send someone your bank account number or social security number in a text message, why would it be any safer sent through email? Think twice before sending any emails which contain information you wouldn’t want a criminal to get their hands on. You might think you’re safe if you’re corresponding with friends or family members, but none of that will matter if either of your email accounts is hacked. If you need to give out personal information, save it for in person or a phone conversation in a private space.

2. Don’t use your email to store important information. It might seem like a good idea to keep a list of your passwords and logins for different websites or your bank account information in your email’s draft folder, but this type of information could lead to lots of trouble if your email should be hacked. Email should not be used as a storage space. Instead, consider using a password manager or store important files or information securely with a cloud storage account. It’s also wise to clear out old emails, including receipts that might contain financial information or anything else that could be used to commit identity theft or other kinds of fraud. If you want to save these emails, you can always save the files then upload them into the cloud.

3. Just say “no” to risqué photos. It can certainly be tempting to send that special someone a racy photo meant for their eyes only, but unfortunately, anyone who accesses your account can easily take those photos and use them for their own means. Compromising photos can wreak havoc on your personal and professional lives, so it’s best to think twice before taking or sending them. In addition to the potential for photos to be stolen in the event you or the recipient is the victim of email hacking, you also have no control over what the other person might do with them once you hit the “send” button. If it involves body parts that would be censored on television or a depiction of illegal activities, it’s best to keep it to yourself.

Want to learn more about keeping yourself safe online? Check out our identity theft protection blog for more tips and information.