As we all know, when we create accounts online, we have to enter an email address and a password to complete the set-up process. If you think about how many accounts we all have, that’s a whole mighty load of companies storing your email address and passwords in their databases!
Unfortunately, as hard as many companies try and look after our credentials, there are still many situations where those pesky hackers manage to steal data and then leak that data on the public web, and that means your email address and password are now compromised.
So how does one stay as secure as possible when navigating a sea of personal online accounts with our email address and all of our passwords?
Well, as our readers know, we always stress the importance of strong and separate passwords for every account you have (and recommend using Password Vaults such as LastPass – which is free, by the way!).
But this article is actually centred around how you can use Gmail to your advantage to be more secure – just make sure you’re keeping in mind that strong passwords are extremely important, too!
So what do you need to do?
Well the trick is as simple as adding a plus sign at the end of your username (before the @). Doing this actually creates a ‘sister email address’ and you can do this for any account you sign up with.
For example, if your email address is Sarah.Finch@gmail.com and you wanted to set up an online account with Amazon using this trick, you could simply sign up using Sarah.Finchfirstname.lastname@example.org. Simple as that!
Here are a few examples that expand on the idea:
Side Note: It’s quite simple to change email addresses that are linked to pre-existing accounts, e.g. Facebook. Just give it a quick Google and follow the steps!
Then organise it!
We’d recommend that once you’ve set up your sister accounts that you then set up a filter. You can set up a filter to automatically star, archive, delete or label emails addressed to any of your sister accounts that you have created.
Filters can be especially useful for when you sign up with a service that you think might share your information. For example, if you were to create Sarah.Finchemail@example.com when donating money to a charity and you see emails from other companies that you’ve never contacted or signed up for, coming through to that specific ‘+donation’ address, you would know how they got it. You could then set up a filter to auto delete any emails received to that email address.
Essentially, you can easily get a greater understanding whether a website is selling your email address to advertisers.
Ok, that’s great, but why is this more secure?
The reason applying this trick makes your Gmail account more secure, is because say for example that Amazon were hacked and their customer email addresses and passwords were leaked, then it would be your Sarah.Finchfirstname.lastname@example.org account and NOT your primary address that would be leaked.
Provided that hackers were using scripture tools to quickly match a password list against an email list, and they weren’t doing it manually, then their efforts would fall flat, because you cannot log in to a Gmail account using any of your sister email addresses, you have to log in to your Gmail account using your primary address, where you can then access your mail from your sister accounts .
So using this trick makes your Gmail account more secure because you’re not giving away your ACTUAL email address, just a mutation of your email address, and therefore making it much more difficult for hackers to try and hack your Gmail account because they don’t have your primary email address.
A simple trick that could save you in future hacks!
Please keep in mind that the + operator is NOT available for all email providers. It is a special feature of Gmail. Only use it with Gmail accounts unless you confirm that it works with another provider. However, people can send mail to this type of account from any email address.