September 29, 2023

Use Cloud – based Emails Without Compromising Your Online Privacy |Learn The Smart Ways

Every convenience in this technologically backed-up world comes with a flip side. There will be some loophole that needs to be handled smartly so that you can use it effectively and not be troubled by it. In today’s digital age, cloud-based email services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook have become an integral part of our lives.  They offer convenience and accessibility, allowing us to send and receive emails from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. However, as we enjoy the benefits of webmail, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential loopholes associated with using these services, particularly when it comes to safeguarding our online privacy.

What do you understand by Cloud Email?

Cloud email or cloud-based email, refers to the practice of hosting and managing email services on remote servers. These can be accessed over the internet. This is much more convenient. Instead of running email servers and infrastructure on-premises, organizations and individuals can use cloud email services provided by third-party providers. These providers manage the servers, storage, security, and software needed to deliver email services, making it easier for users to send, receive, and manage their email messages

The Grey Areas of Using Cloud-Based Mails

  1. Data Privacy Concerns:

When you use cloud mail services, you entrust them with your personal and professional communications. These service providers scan your emails to deliver targeted ads. It means they have access to the content of your messages. While they claim to do this anonymously, it still raises concerns about data privacy and the potential for your information to be mishandled or accessed by unauthorized parties.

  1. Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks:

Phishing attacks are a type of cyberattack in which malicious actors attempt to deceive individuals or organizations into divulging sensitive information. One’s login credentials, credit card numbers, or personal information are such sensitive information. These attacks have become rampant over the past few years and the primary targets of such criminals are the webmail users. Cybercriminals use deceptive emails and fake login pages to trick users. They pretend to reveal the login credentials, personal information, or financial details of the users. These attacks can be difficult to detect, making users susceptible to identity theft and fraud.

  1. Data Collection and Profiling:

Cloud mail providers collect vast amounts of data about your online behavior and interests. They use this data for ad targeting and profiling. Your every click and correspondence is tracked to create a detailed profile of you as a user. Of course, this data collection is primarily done for marketing purposes, however, it does leave some room for concerns about data security.

  1. Lack of Control:

Cloud-based email services allow limited control over your email configuration data. The organization may not be able to make many alterations to the settings of the email. This is a strong contrast to those email setups that are operative on-premises or open-source emails. Additionally, once an organization signs up with a cloud-based email provider, it is very difficult to migrate to another service provider.

  1. Government Surveillance:

Yet another very grey area when using cloud-based mail is the surveillance conducted by the government in some regions. By virtue of this, the government has the legal authority to access user data stored by webmail providers. This is most often done without user consent or knowledge. This can pose significant privacy risks, especially if you live in a country with strict surveillance laws.

Some industries and organizations are subject to specific regulatory requirements (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA) that govern how data, including email communications, is handled and stored. Meeting these requirements in the cloud can be complex.

How Will You Protect Your Online Privacy?

While there are inherent dangers associated with using cloud mails; yet there are ways in which one can play smart and protect oneself. There are a few criteria that you can be extra cautious of so as to minimize the ill effects of the danger-prone webmail. Below are some such practices you can adopt to protect your online privacy.

  • Using Strong and Unique Passwords: Make sure that your email account password is strong and not used for other online accounts. It is suggested that you use a reputable password manager to generate and store complex passwords.
  • Enabling Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): This is a very effective way of preventing oneself from being cheated. This adds an extra layer of security to your email account. With 2FA, users are required to provide not just a password or PIN but also a secondary authentication factor. This could be a temporary code generated by a mobile app, a text message, a biometric scan, or a hardware token. 2FA is widely adopted across various online services, banking platforms, email accounts, and more, contributing to improved cybersecurity and safeguarding sensitive information from cyber threats.
  • Regularly Review App Permissions: The permissions that are used by the application keep changing from time to time. These changes are more often not passed onto the end user. It is hence very important that you keep checking for those changes at regular intervals. Check which third-party apps have access to your email account and revoke permissions for any apps you no longer use or trust.
  • Use Encryption: Encrypting your data on email should be given an end-to-end encryption for sensitive email communications. This will certainly help in preventing from malware intrusion massively. Services like ProtonMail and Tutanota offer this feature.
  • Staying Informed with Privacy Policy: Similar to the permissions, the privacy policies and terms are often changed. It is thus very crucial to regularly review the privacy policies and terms of service once in a while.  This will help you stay informed about how your data is handled by your provider.
  • Using Email Safely: You should be very cautious when opening email attachments, clicking on links, and responding to unsolicited emails. This is why you should adopt the habit of verifying the sender’s identity before sharing sensitive information.
  • Consider Alternatives: The best option for you to protect your online privacy is to use some other provider that prioritizes privacy and security such as Zoho. These are encrypted email providers or self-hosted email solutions.

The need for every business to include cloud-based emails into the functionality cannot be denied. Hence, just like every other thing this too has its own share of advantages and disadvantages. However, it is fortunate that the disadvantages related to cloud emails are not something that cannot be manipulated. I hope you have learned the tricks to let not the negative side of things affect the growth of your business.