National KE-CIRT/CC Cybersecurity Best Practice Guide of the Week
Benefits and risks of free email services
BENEFITS AND RISKS OF FREE EMAIL SERVICES
When I joined college, I needed to apply for HELB. While filling the form in a cyber, I saw a field to enter my email address. Not knowing what this was, I asked the cyber attendant where and how I would get an email address. I was asked to pay 200/= and with a few click on his monitor, I had an email address s……..email@example.com. I didn’t know I had just been conned!
So, what is an email address?
Similar to how a postal address identifies a physical post office box, an email address points to an electronic postbox, in this case, the domain of the Mail Service Provider (MSP).
Types of Emails
i. Webmail – an email system in which a user with internet connectivity can access their mails via a browser. E.g. ere…firstname.lastname@example.org, ww….email@example.com.
ii. Mail User Agent (MUA) – also known as Email client, is a computer program used to access and manage a user’s email. Most companies use Email client.
Despite the many types of emails, they can all be classified as paid or free mails.
Emails can either be free or paid based on the policy and agreement terms per the Mail Service Provider.
Though most of us are conversant with the free Webmails, some are paid for.
NB: - Not all WebMails are free and not all Email clients are free.
Most Kenyans today are more conversant with the free email services of WebMails like Gmail and YahooMail. One can have multiple emails. For instance, Ruben has a Business mail, social media mail and personal mail all as free Webmail. Let’s discuss the free email services.
Free Email services.
A large percentage of email users today are using free email services.
What are the benefits of free email services?
1. Easy access – with internet access, it’s quite easy open your mail account as long as you know your login credentials in any computer or smartphone from anywhere in the world.
2. user friendly – it’s a straight forward design, thus easy to use even for a first-time computer user.
3. Huge storage/capacity – some email clients have a limit of as low as 512MB thus frequent backup or permanent delete from sever is recommended unlike popular free email services.
4. Convenience – anyone can have and access email(s) since it’s free.
5. Personalization – it’s all about your preference, thus you can personalize it by changing themes, adding filters, having your photo as the profile picture among others.
What are the risks of free email services?
1. Vulnerable to email phishing or malware.
2. Once vulnerable, the Mail Service Provider is at liberty to suspend your email address for its violation of their terms and agreement.
3. Vulnerable to Ads.
4. Possibility of not recovering your email address once revoked.
5. Can block mails from many sources even from legitimate sources.
Have the above security tips in mind when operating your computer systems. Report any cybercrime incident/activity