This week’s property management tip: email security
Most property managers have an email account that they use every single day. What would you do if someone broke into your email account and emailed all of your contacts? Or worse, what if they deleted all of your messages? What valuable information would be lost forever?
This scenario isn’t as far-fetched as you might think and happens to thousands of people around the world every day. Fortunately, there are four easy steps you can take to keep your email safe and make sure you don’t become a victim:
- Turn on “two step verification” for your email account. If you don’t do anything else — at least take this step. It will do the most to protect your information.Different email providers call this feature by different names, but the basic idea is the same. When you try to access your email from an unrecognized computer (such as a hacker would), then your email provider sends you a temporary code by text message. In order to access your email, you must type in the code.This makes it pretty much impossible for someone to hack your email, unless they steal your phone too. The steps to turn this on vary by email service, but here are the links to the most popular services:
- Don’t use your email password on websites.
This is a very common thing to do, but it’s a really bad idea. Here’s why: if your password is hacked or exposed on one website, then you risk having your email and accounts on other sites hacked too. While it’s a pain to track multiple passwords, it is much more secure.At a minimum, your email password should never be used on other websites.
- Use a password manager like RoboForm.
Before I used RoboForm to track my passwords, I really struggled to remember my passwords for all of my favorite websites, and I was constantly clicking “Forgot Password”. It was a real pain, and I had to track my passwords somewhere, so I used Excel. (Which is not secure at all.) Then a friend told me about RoboForm.It works like this: you set up a master password. Then, when you visit websites that require a password, it automatically remembers your password and fills in the form for you the next time you visit.Your passwords are encrypted and stored securely on your hard drive. And they even offer a “cloud” option, where your passwords can be synchronized to multiple computers, or even to your phone or tablet.While I initially had some hesitation about storing my passwords in a service like this, a few minutes reading reviews on Google gave me the confidence to trust the service.It’s been great, and I would never go back to the old way. Roboform costs $29 USD.
- Make your password longer, and not just letters.
A recent analysis of 453,411 leaked passwords shows that many users do not follow this basic rule. The most common passwords are:
|Password||Number of Users|
These are all terrible password choices and offer very little protection for your email.Instead, choose a password that is at least 10 characters long, and include at least one number or symbol. An easy approach is to combine a word and a number that are easy for you to remember.
If you do have your email hacked, you can check if your email provider offers an option to recover deleted emails. For example, both Yahoo! Mail (which us the provider for Rogers email account) and Gmail offers such tools. You can learn more about the Yahoo! one here, and details on the GMail one are here.
So remember: email security is easy. Don’t re-use passwords, use a password manager, make your password longer, and turn on two-step verification if your email service offers it. By following these simple tips you can reduce the chances of falling victim to email hacking.