We often take the privacy and security of our inboxes for granted, regardless of the fact that many of us can’t operate without reading our email on a daily basis. But if the Sony Pictures attack taught us anything, it’s that email is a prominent target for hackers and data fraudsters — and it’s not a difficult target to hit.

However, this does not rule out the possibility of protected, private email. It’s only up to you to take a few steps to ensure the security of your email:

1. Employ two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication works on the simple idea of combining something you know with something you have. A debit card, for instance, needs your actual card and your PIN in order to prove your identity. You’re not placing your whole assurance in a password when you enable two-factor authentication/verification. Given how vulnerable many of our credentials are, this is a good thing. Trying to set up two-step verification for Gmail is simply clicking and providing your phone number. It’s the same method for Windows Mail or Outlook. Simply sign in, choose “Password and security”, and then “Set up two-step verification”. A hacker having your password is now out of luck since two-factor authentication is enabled– unless they’ve also stolen your smartphone.

2. Set a limit on forwarding

We frequently hit “Forward” before thinking about the implications when we receive a message we wish to share. Who is going to see the message and where is it going? What will happen to it? Where will it be kept? When your email is stored on a business server, several security protocols are almost certainly in place to secure any private data found in your personal email account. When an internal email is sent to a receiver outside of your firm, however, that data (together with any subsequent emails in the forwarded chain) is exposed to potentially unprotected, unencrypted servers. Likewise, if you’re a covered entity emailing a message with protected health information (PHI) to a business associate, all that it takes is one individual to send the email to an illegitimate receiver to breach HIPAA

3. Set a date for your messages to expire

Though some of us can’t take a cluttered inbox, the average user doesn’t care to clear up their personal email and considers email deletion to be a waste of time. Given that more than half of us receive at least eleven emails every day, you can’t criticize them.  This implies that any vulnerable data you forward to a customer might wind up lying on a server for months. You can thus have no control over the fate of your data at such a time. Fortunately, Canary Mail allows you to select an expiration date for your email, so it will no longer be accessible by the receiver after that date. This prevents sensitive content or files from remaining indefinitely in your recipient’s Inbox. When you add an expiration date to an email, the recipient will be unable to access its contents after the set date. You can set an expiration date either when composing an email, or at any time after it is sent.

4. Know the terms of service (TOS) of your service provider

The terms of service of your email provider might educate users considerably more than their media interviews and marketing. For instance, it will inform you of the level of privacy they provide. Is it true that their server encrypts messages? Are there any safeguards against forceful breaches? Is there any assurance that your information will be kept safe? Though you may believe that your email provider is looking out for your best interests, there’s a strong possibility that they don’t. Consider Google, for instance, which allows automatic monitoring of personal email. You’ll probably notice after reviewing your email provider’s terms of service that maintaining your email security isn’t their top concern — it’s completely up to you.

5. Protect your email with encryption

Encryption is the ideal approach to keep your personal email safe from snoopers and hackers. Encryption safeguards your private email by encoding up your messages, making them hard to decode unless you give someone specific permission to access them. Even if your inbox is hacked, the contents of your message will remain unreadable if you use a client-side encryption service like Canary Mail. You also don’t need to bother about hackers or inquisitive service providers monitoring your emails after they’ve been sent. Additionally, even if your email is kept on a server beyond your command, you have hold over who sees it and may remove that access at any moment.

Canary lets you send encrypted emails via your favorite email provider, including Gmail, Yahoo, Office 365, iCloud, or any other IMAP account. You can even send PGP encrypted emails from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, to any other PGP user, who may or may not be using Canary. With end-to-end encryption, your provider is no longer relevant – the emails won’t be readable on your provider’s web interface. This means that even if an intruder gets access to your Gmail account, all they’ll see is garbled text.

Canary’s features, design, and user experience goes far beyond other secure email apps that offer encryption – with security being equal, this is what matters in the long run – crunching emails securely and effortlessly on a daily basis.