Recently a bright person who keeps up with these kinds of things explained that he had switched his email account from Gmail to a free email service called Protonmail. He was concerned about the overall dominance of Google and who had access to his emails. Prontonmail is based out of Switzerland and encrypts all emails so theoretically no one can read his emails.

Maybe I should be more concerned about who can read my emails, but honestly, it is very hard to imagine anyone wanting to read them. So our firm will continue using the Google suite of business applications, Gmail being one of them.

What does frighten me much more than someone reading my emails, is someone hacking my email account and holding it for ransom. I wrote about this a couple of years ago and the issue has not gone away. The good news is that there is a fairly simple way to protect yourself.

If someone hacked your email account and required $500 or $5,000 ransom to release it back to you, would you pay? Hopefully, you won’t be faced with that decision, and if you follow our recommendation below, then you won’t ever have to decide. You could simply tell the deviant, “Thank you, but no thank you. I have a complete copy of all of my emails. Have a nice day!”

The recommendation is to set up an email program on your computer to pull down all of your emails from your web-based email program. For example, I use Gmail. However, to protect myself from creeps, and in case something freaky happens to Gmail, I run Outlook on my computer every day. Even though I don’t actually use Outlook, in the background it is pulling down all the emails I’ve sent and received from Gmail onto my computer. You can configure it so that every email you send and receive in Outlook shows up in Gmail, and every email you send and receive in Outlook shows up in Outlook.

You don’t even need Outlook. Most computers come with a free email program that includes this ability to pull down emails (keyword here is IMAP for all you techy people out there). And configuring the computer email program to do this is relatively simple. Even if you have to pay a tech support person to configure this for you, it is probably worth the cost for the peace of mind that you are protected.