How secure is your email account?
Most people think that e-mail messages are transmitted in a direct line from sender outbox to recipient inbox, in reality e-mail messages travel across multiple servers and systems. At any point during the data transfer your e-mail messages can potentially be intercepted and copied by a third-party, this means that you will not know if your e-mail was copied or accessed because there is no system that notifies the users if the transmission is compromised.
If it is not encrypted, it is readable.
Most users send e-mail messages through free services like Google, Yahoo, Outlook, etc. these services offer a secure connection between your computer and their servers, however the e-mail messages are still stored and sent in plain text. The hosting companies that control the servers have access to all the information contained in those e-mails. So what are the two options users have? The first option is to avoid sending private information through e-mail and assume that at any moment that message can be read by anyone. The second option is to use encryption, nowadays encryption can be implemented in e-mail client (software), there are also a few services that offer end-to-end encryption for free.
There are safe options to send encrypted e-mail messages to protect your identity and maintain your privacy.
It is important to remember never to send sensitive information through e-mail messages, such as social security numbers, passwords, bank account numbers, personal details, vacation plans, etc. All this information is easily available to the people handling the servers and if you are not using encryption it can even be intercepted by someone connected to your network.
In a future article we are going to compare some of the options to send email securely.