Q: I have a Wave Broadband email address, which I have had for 20 years. Recently all of my accounts associated with that email have been compromised so I tried to change my password only to find out after several phone calls that I am unable to do so as my email address is outdated and Wave Broadband no longer supports password changes (although they changed my password for me).
So my question to you is what email providers do you recommend for security? I do all of my business through this email and am looking for something more secure than Gmail.
— Mary Jane Power
A: The major free email service providers — including Google Gmail and Microsoft Outlook.com — are actually relatively secure. I say relatively because while they offer a good deal of protection against outsiders trying to hack your account, some email service providers, including Google, have been criticized for mining account holders’ email for information. Google has said it is no longer doing this. You can believe that … or not.
But the most important steps to securing your email are ones you can take yourself.
- Make sure to use a strong password. Easy-to-guess passwords are also easy to crack. Hackers have programs that can run through thousands of possible passwords in seconds.
- Use 2-step verification, if it is available. (And it is available for Gmail and Outlook.com.) Yes, that means having to take an extra step when you log in, but it does add security.
- When you’re on public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN) to hide your transmissions — including passwords you may enter — from prying eyes. The downside? VPNs can reduce performance.
- Consider using a service or add-on to encrypt your messages.
- Keep an eye out for phishing emails. Don’t click on any links in emails unless you recognize and know and trust the sender.
Gmail, by the way, encrypts your emails while they are in transit using a protocol called Transport Layer Security (TLS). That protects your message after it leaves your outbox and until it goes into your recipient’s inbox. The recipient also has to have an email service that supports TLS for this to work and most service providers do support it.
I’m not suggesting that you take all of these steps. (Personally, I employ all the steps except using a third-party encryption service.) All of these steps involve some level of inconvenience, so which ones you employ really depends upon just how secure you need your email to be. If you’re sending sensitive information — such as financial data — I do recommend encrypting emails either through an encryption service or by always using a VPN.
Of course, even using all these security measures your emails can still be read by whatever email service provider you’re using. If you need more security you’d need to set up your own email server so that you can exercise even more control. That’s an expensive option that requires a bit of expertise.
Q: Around the first week of February, I tried to update Win 7 Ultimate and I got another selection which had never shown up before. Clicking it, downloaded Win 10 Pro. It installed without any problems. I’m still using Win 7 Ultimate, though, because I cannot seem to install the Office 365 contacts list via the export of the. PPT file. The Office 365 license is the same and all features on the Win 10 machine work, it just refuses to import the file. Suggestions?
A: Actually, there are two ways to export an Outlook 365 contact list: either as an Outlook data file (PST) or as a comma separated values (CSV) file. If you’re going to be exporting the list to bring it into another installation of Outlook, save it as an Outlook data file. If you’re going to be importing the information into another program, select the CSV option.