Ken's Corner - Computer and Technology Tips
Mail call. While it’s the most common thing people use on the Internet, there are a lot of questions or misconceptions about how your email works. These range from how you can access your email from another computer to how did someone send emails to all my friends from my email.
Time to discuss your email and how to keep it safe.
To begin with, it’s important to know your email is not actually on your computer; it’s out there on the web. You can access your email from pretty much any computer or internet device (i.e., your smartphone and some game consoles) anywhere in the world. Your web address is actually a file on a server owned by the company that owns your email address. If you have a Gmail account, it’s actually on a Google server or in cloud storage. Hotmail.com? MSN is keeping your mail for you.
“Aha!” you may be thinking; “Those servers aren’t secure and that’s why my friends got an email from me!” Sorry to burst a bubble, but that’s not it. Your online presence is partly to blame, as is the way you use your email.
I’ve mentioned before incoming mail in your email is often not what it seems. Your spam filter doesn’t catch it all, so some diligence is the cure. I’m on the mailing list of a couple of cooking websites (I like to cook, and though I don’t always have the time, I have a ton of recipes from these lists.). I expect several emails from these websites, but I always double-check the sender’s email address to make sure. In fact, I usually double-check mailing addresses for all my mail. It’s easy and can save you a lot of heartaches.
If you hover your cursor over the return address of your emails, especially those that list a company or name instead of an email address, the mouse will display the actual address of who sent you the email. If it displays an address with a lot of random letters and numbers, dump it. The email is actually a net that can retrieve your data, including your friend's list, to use for all sorts of nefarious purposes.
Have you gone to a website where in order to use the site you have to agree to their Terms & Conditions? What follows is a long legal document with “You agree” and “We will” spread throughout. Most people just scroll to the bottom and hit the “Accept” button.
Don’t do that. It’s several minutes of your life you’ll never get back, but it can prevent some hassles down the road. Deep in these contracts, you will find out whether or not the website will sell your email address to a third company. Most companies are pretty scrupulous about who they will sell it to, but not all of them. Once a scammer has your email address, they can run a program that can eventually crack your email password (which is why you should change your password occasionally and not use your email password for any other websites.) Once they crack your password, all of the information in your account is theirs for the taking. That’s how “you” sent an e-mail to all of your friends asking for a “loan” because of some “calamity” that has befallen you.
If you use social media, do yourself a favor: Don’t post your email address for everyone to see. Scammers will sometimes run a program that saves any sequence of letters that includes the “@” symbol; which of course includes all emails. If you have to post your email address, spell it out: “name at email address.”
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