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Email Safety Tips Every User Should Know to Keep It Confidential

Email was one of the first ways of online communication and perhaps the most successful one. The number of email users continues to grow steadily despite the appearance of other popular messaging applications such as WhatsApp or Signal.

One of the reasons for the popularity of email is its decentralized nature. You can send and receive emails from anyone, regardless of which email provider is being used. To communicate with anyone via WhatsApp or Signal, both users must have an account with the messaging provider. The user-friendliness created by email compatibility has made it an excellent means of communication. But one has to pay the cost by their privacy.

Email Tracking

The largest email providers are straightforward about tracking emails. For example, Yahoo's Privacy Policy explicitly states their right to “analyze and store all communications content, including email content from incoming and outgoing mail, as well as incoming and outgoing messages to messaging apps.” And most of the other well-known mainstream and “free” email providers have similar provisions in their Privacy Policies.

 Technical skills
To protect your email and privacy, you don't need to be tech-savvy. All you have to do is create an email account with a trusted private email provider. In general, it is useful to understand the basics of email communications.

Let's use an example: you want to email someone. You create your email in your email client (on the website or through the app), add their email address, and click send. But how did your email reach the person? Your email client connects to the email service provider's SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) server, which will find and connect to the server of the person's email service provider to deliver your message to their mailbox. These connections are most likely encrypted using TLS (Transport Layer Security), which means that the email is confidential between you, both of your email providers, and him or her.

The TLS protocol is used to prevent third parties from listening to your conversation by encrypting the message when it is transmitted between your providers. However, nothing prevents your email providers from accessing your emails. So, your email to other people and the information contained therein may be shared with others.

Nevertheless, it is quite possible to protect the letters in secret.

So, how can email be protected?

1. Choose an email provider that respects the privacy and security of your data
Using email generates a lot of data, and all this information is valuable to advertisers. "Free" email providers such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft show ads in users' mailboxes. These ads are based on your personal information and online behavior collected from various online sources. Follow the link to learn how and where Google collects your data. So "free" is not free - in this case, since you are paying these email providers with your personal information. By choosing an email provider that is secure and confidential, your data remains yours, and an additional bonus is no advertising!

Also, think about which country it works in, as the rules and regulations vary greatly. In the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes many privacy protection rules on individuals, companies, and other organizations that process personal data, ensuring that the privacy of their users is protected by default.

2. Encrypt your messages with PGP
PGP encryption (Pretty good privacy) works with a pair of keys: a public and a private key. The public key is used to encrypt messages, and the private key is used to decrypt them. You should not disclose your private key to anyone. It is for your personal use only. On the other hand, your public key can and should be shared so that the messages sent to you can be encrypted. Similarly, you can encrypt messages you send to someone else using their public key.
While this method may seem complicated, many privacy-conscious email providers have made it easy to use. PGP encrypts your messages from beginning to end with just one click, ensuring that only you and the intended recipient will see them. It is worth noting that PGP does not encrypt the subject line of your emails.

3. Protect your PGP keys by replacing them regularly
If your PGP private key gets stolen or falls into the wrong hands, it can be dangerous and could reveal all the information you tried to keep secret in the first place. To avoid this security breach, you should replace your keys regularly. Create a reminder to replace them in a few months or, if possible, set an expiration date for them. If one of your private keys is compromised, only messages encrypted with this key are at risk. The remaining encrypted messages remain unreadable.

4. Protect the emails you send to people who don't use PGP
Not everyone has the time, money, or resources to assess the privacy risks associated with using email. Some services can encrypt your emails with a password. You can tell them the password via a secure channel or give them a hint that only they know. It is simple and effective, and it also raises privacy awareness.

5. Use an alias to protect your email address from fraudsters/data leaks
Countless services request your email address so that you can place an order or send a free ebook or coupon for online purchases. When you do, your email address may be sold or disclosed after a data leak. You can avoid these problems by using an alias - an alternative email address associated with your primary email address.
The continued popularity of email means that protecting your email and your personal information is becoming more and more significant. Fortunately, it shouldn't be difficult if you follow these five tips.

The original article can be found here
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