#BE30DayChallenge Week 2: Cleaning Up Email Accounts

#BE30DayChallenge

Email is the one mode of communication that just won’t seem to go away. Despite a plethora of newer communication tools, including Slack, instant messaging, Snapchat, and social media, we remain heavily dependent on email. Reducing and managing email is the focus of this week’s #BE30DayChallenge to secure your digital life.

Here are some numbers from Ving, a communications engagement platform creator:

  • Email is the preferred method of commercial communication by 74% of all online adults.
  • 60% of work email accounts get checked one or more times a day.
  • A typical corporate user sends and receives about 110 messages daily.
  • We send an estimated 294 billion emails every day.
  • Eight million emails are sent every second.
  • The average number of corporate spam emails is 13 per day.

As anyone with a work email account knows, email can spiral out of control fairly quickly without routine maintenance of one’s inbox. Even worse, email is a primary means used by hackers to commit fraud and identity theft. It’s also a vector for spreading malware. That’s why it is so important to gain control of your email.

So, in the second week of the #BE30DayChallenge for securing your digital life, here are some ways you can better manage your email.

1. Get Rid of the Junk

This means newsletters, email blasts, and advertisements that are frequently sent to you, which can clutter up your inbox quickly. Arrange your inbox based on sender and get rid of these extraneous emails.

2. Set a Cut-off Date

Do you really think you are going to answer that email from two years ago? Arrange your inbox by date and then mass-delete messages received before a specific date; this could be any messages older than six months or a year.

3. Organize Your Inbox

There are a number of apps that will automatically categorize your incoming email into specific folders. One great app is Organizer; it places messages in folders marked “Newsletters,” “Receipts,” “Social Networking,” and more. It’s a great way to separate daily email blasts from more important messages. The app works with AOL, Gmail, iCloud, Outlook, and Yahoo.

4. Check to Ensure That Your Email Hasn’t Already Been Compromised

A great resource to do so is the website “have i been pwned?” Just enter your email address, click “pwned,” and the site will search the Internet to look and see if your email may have been put at risk, due to an online account having been compromised or “pwned” in a data breach. If your email comes up as having been compromised, you will want to change the password or perhaps use an uncompressed email address for sensitive Internet activity, such as banking.

5. Transition More of Your Communications Off of Email

For example, if you have a core group of co-workers that you email constantly throughout the day, consider using an intra-office messaging system, such as Slack, instead of email. Save email for external communications.

 

Do you have 1000s of emails in your Inbox? Send us a screenshot of the email count! Also, we want to see screenshots of suspicious emails, and your favorite tools, apps, or plug-ins to control email. Tweet to @blackenterprise @samaralynn #BE30DayChallengeEMailDetox

 

How to Send the Perfect Business Email Every Time

business email

People often view email as a less formal means of communication.

This can be true when emailing family members and friends, but in my experience as a public relations professional, it is always better to veer more toward the formal side when reaching out to someone concerning business. Here are a few things to remember when communicating via email:

Pay Attention to Spelling and Grammar 

We are accustomed to using abbreviations and shorthand when texting or communicating within the office; however this is not appropriate when emailing for business purposes. No matter who you’re dealing with, you should always check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Shorthands like “SRY” or “PLS” are often not taken seriously in an office setting. Present yourself via email in a way that lets the receiver know you are intelligent, professional, and to be taken seriously.

Include a Subject Line

Always include a straightforward subject line that will clearly indicate to the receiver what the email entails. With an inbox overflowing with incoming messages, it is easy to overlook a vague email with no subject. By including a subject line, you will make it much easier for the receiver to get to your message, and there is a greater chance it will be read and replied to.

Address the Receiver by His or Her Name 

I appreciate when businesses that reach out to me take the time to find out who I am and address me by name in their emails. Emails that just say “Hi” and continue with a message or start with “To Whom it May Concern” are impersonal and show a lack of initiative by the sender to do a little research. I am always more inclined to answer an email when it is addressed to me.

Read more at www.businesscollective.com…

Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Leila created Be Inspired PR in 2007, the first full-service public relations agency dedicated to the wedding and special event industry. Leila works closely with wedding and lifestyle brands, educating clients on marketing strategies, rebuilding corporate image, securing top-level media placements and helping them book new business.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

5 Ways to Not Get Your Email Hacked

email

It seems as though email troubles and Hillary Clinton are always in close proximity. After an exhaustive review by the FBI, there has been somewhat of a lull in the controversy over Clinton housing an unsecured email server in her home to conduct national business.

And then a new controversy erupts. Although Clinton is not accused of direct involvement, she and the Democratic Party are under fire for messages obtained by Wikileaks.

The controversy has raised questions about hacking by Russia in collusion with the Trump campaign.

The entire affair is distracting for the Democrats, to state the least. The takeaway here? Don’t let your email get hacked!

Of course, there is no data that is 100% secure. However, there are a few tips to help avoid an email hack:

  • Log out.

Many people remain logged into their email. This is particularly so for those accessing through mobile devices. Be sure to log out of email when you are finished using it.

  • Be careful of messages you open.

Email servers and cloud services such as Gmail do a pretty good job of catching suspicious messages. However, malicious messages, including those with links to malware sites, do sneak through. Ignore those with vague greetings such as “Hello, friend,” offers that seem too good to be true, or from international senders with whom you are unfamiliar.

  • Choose a strong password.

By now, most of us should know how to create a strong password. A solid password is 8 characters or longer. It should include non-alphanumeric symbols such as “&^%$#!” as well as numbers.

  • Use two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication simply means the system uses two methods to establish your identity to allow you to log in. Gmail, for instance, allows you to set up entering a password and then requires a code sent to your phone that also has to be entered to log into mail.

  • Change passwords every 30 days

Most email services such as Outlook.com will also allow you to force yourself to change your password every month.

Cybersecurity Pros Familiar With Suspected DNC Email Hackers

DNC

When Wikileaks released thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), democrats called on cybersecurity technology company CrowdStrike to look into how Wikileaks obtained that data.

CrowdStrike concluded that Russian hackers were behind the breach.

“We deployed our IR team and technology and immediately identified two sophisticated adversaries on the network–COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR,” the company explains in a blog post.

Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear are two groups that routinely commit international cybercrimes and digital espionage. Fancy Bear traces to Russia, according to security experts.

Cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab is also aware of these groups. From the company’s blog:

“CozyDuke (aka CozyBear, CozyCar or “Office Monkeys”) is a precise attacker. Kaspersky Lab has observed signs of attacks against government organizations and commercial entities in the U.S., Germany, South Korea, and Uzbekistan. In 2014, targets included the White House and the US Department of State

FANCY BEAR (also known as Sofacy or APT 28) is a separate Russian-based threat actor, which has been active since mid 2000s, and has been responsible for targeted intrusion campaigns against the Aerospace, Defense, Energy, Government, and Media sectors.”

In July, 2015, HiTrust Alliance listed  CozyBear as a known threat in a monthly threat assessment. Security firm Sophos reports that Fancy Bear hacked into DNC servers in April.

The recent DNC breach may have resulted from threats well known to cybersecurity companies. The questions abound: Why were DNC’s email servers left vulnerable? Who guards government IT infrastructure?

The fact these hacks presumably originated from Russia is not surprising, but the lack of precaution is, according to Larry Whiteside, Jr., Co-founder and Executive Vice President, International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP). “The hacking and release of DNC emails are an unfortunate sign of the times as it relates to the use of technology today,” he said in an email comment to Black Enterprise.

“It’s being reported to have been performed by a group out of Russia or being state-sponsored by Russia is also not surprising. There are many state-sponsored groups specifically in place to target the U.S. government and/or U.S.-based companies.”

The big issue, according to Whiteside, is that the U.S. “has a big bulls-eye on its back.”

“There, unfortunately, is a treasure trove of information that attackers can use to either embarrass organizations or monetize for personal gain. This being the case the U.S. government and U.S.-based companies must take the necessary precautions as it relates to proper cybersecurity controls and cybersecurity hygiene.”

Here are Some Results-Driven Ways to Grow Your Company’s Email List

Email List

“The money is in your list.”

Marketers have said this over and over again throughout the years, and even in 2015 it remains accurate. Email is still a very effective form of digital marketing, and building an email list should be one of the main focuses of your marketing strategy, regardless of whether you have a car dealership or a mom-and-pop bookstore.

The simplest and most effective way to grow your email list is to offer a newsletter. It’s something that my company has done for many years. But placing an opt-in form on your website and waiting for the subscribers to pour in will leave you extremely disappointed. Sure, you will capture an occasional subscriber, but if you want to experience aggressive list growth, you will need to implement some other strategies.

Here are five strategies that my company has implemented recently on our own website that has helped us grow our email list at an extremely fast rate.

Run a Twitter Card Lead Generation Campaign

We experienced success running Twitter card lead generation campaigns. I’m a huge fan of this list-building method for two reasons. First, it allows prospects to join the list with a single click. They aren’t required to enter an email address, as Twitter automatically passes the email address used to log into the account. Second, you receive a valid email address 100% of the time, since a prospect can’t enter a bogus email to claim your offer.

We were also able to use the targeting options to draw in qualified subscribers. You pay for each email added to your list using Twitter cards, so you need to have a decent budget if you want to get aggressive. Don’t let the cost deter you, though, as no subscriber is ever free. There is a cost associated with every subscriber you attract, whether it’s from social media, SEO or other marketing channels.

Read more at www.BusinessCollective.com.

Jonathan Long is the founder & CEO of Market Domination Media, a digital marketing agency specializing in creative outside-the-box branding campaigns designed for aggressive online growth. Connect with him on Twitter. Jonathan also founded EBOC, an exclusive private community for entrepreneurs and business owners.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners.

Google: Email Password Recovery Questions May Not Be Secure

If you’ve ever registered for an email account on the likes of Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or AOL, you’ve probably been asked to select some answers to some security questions. But those email password recovery questions might not be secure enough to keep hackers out—but might be too strong for you to remember.

[Related: Google Employees Spend 20% of Work Time on Diversity Efforts]

According to a recent research report from Google, questions asked—such as “What is your favorite food?” “What is the name of your first pet?” and “What is your mother’s maiden name?”—were tricky enough to keep 40% of users who went through the password-recovery process out because they couldn’t remember the answers they chose.

Part of this has to do with users picking different answers than what they should actually be for the question, such as users using a telephone number when the question may ask for a frequent flier number, according to TechCrunch.

Google’s report comes from numbers from millions of data-recovery attempts conducted through its Gmail service.

Also discouraging, according to TechCrunch, is how easy it was for hackers to obtain some information about users’ accounts. For example, it says, hackers were often able to guess that an English-speaking user’s favorite food was pizza, which is apparently the answer to that question used by some 20% of Google’s account holders. And, when looking at Spanish-speakers, the study found that with 10 guesses, hackers had a 21% chance of figuring out a user’s father’s middle name. Countries with populations living in a few large cities were likely to have easier-to-hack accounts when the security question involved asking where the authorized user was born.

There are some alternatives to passwords, but rarely is that the case for an email account, so that text has to be kept safe. But Google’s study encouraged the use of SMS password recovery, in which users would have their recovery code sent in the form of a text to their mobile phone. Provided a thief doesn’t also have your Android or iPhone, it could be yet another option to keeping your digital presence under lock and key.

Don’t Be Haunted By Your Emails

Email Communication PolicyBrenda Myers was an employee of Wickes Furniture. When she strained her back, doctors imposed restrictions on her ability to work. A dispute between Myers and the company over these restrictions ensued, in the midst of which Myers was hospitalized. She was later terminated, allegedly for “poor attitude and behavior.”

Numerous emails sent by company executives discussing the situation were later used against the company in court. In one email cited by the U.S. District Court, a manager complained, “She went from 6 hours a day to apparently zero and in the hospital.” The manager later sent another email: “Brenda Green received a call from Brenda Myers today stating that she was told NOT to work due to her back injury. Sigh.” The word “sigh” was particularly noted by the judge in the case, who observed the “denigrating” and “negative tone of the emails.” In another email, a different manager stated: “Amazing …. how is she being paid for last week’s missed days?”

The Court also cited an email a supervisor had sent praising Myers to other employees as evidence that countered the company’s claim that Myers had been dismissed for poor attitude and behavior.

The executives at Wickes are far from alone. Electronic messages, including e-mails, social media postings, text messages and voicemail are regularly used against their authors in Court.

In another recent case, Stewart v. CUS Nashville, the defendants, operators of Coyote Ugly Saloons, were initially faced with a lawsuit from employees concerning the division of tips. However, they were later also faced with claims of unlawful retaliation, one of which cited postings company the president allegedly made to her blog about the initial case: “This particular case will end up pissing me off[,] cause it is coming from someone we terminated for theft. I have to believe in my heart that[,] somewhere down the road, bad people end up facing bad circumstances!”

A second retaliation claim in that case indicated that another company executive made the following post to his Facebook page while attending a company anniversary party: “Dear God, please don’t let me kill the girl that is suing me….” According to that plaintiff, the company executive was sitting across the bar from her when he made the post to his Facebook page. As she was “friends” with him on Facebook, the plaintiff saw the message and used it in court.

In the case of Pursuit Partners, LLC, et al., v. UBS AG, et al., UBS’s interests were not well served by the email statement of a UBS employee that he had “sold more crap to Pursuit” or the email of another UBS employee referring to UBS’s own inventory as “vomit”.

Even Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) Director David Petraeus—two guys who really should have seen it coming—have had their own emails used against them.

All these messages provide made-for-trial evidence that basically didn’t exist a generation ago, and it’s not just that one big “smoking gun” statement that you have to be wary of. Admissions of facts both big and small, apologies and, as in the Wickes Furniture case, even tone can come back to haunt you.

That means that business executives (well, everyone really) should pay careful attention to what they say and write—and also whether it makes sense to say or write anything at all. Countless police dramas first taught me (and, yes, law school confirmed) that, “You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.” Often the wisest course is to say nothing at all—particularly in sticky situations.

However, I understand that you can’t always say nothing and stay in business. So, with that in mind, here are some tips for avoiding seeing your own words or the words of your employees used against you in court.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Electronic Communication

Let’s start with the do’s:

  1. Do have a written electronic communications policy for your business. The policy should address what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable uses of e-mail, social media, etc. It should be signed by each employee to indicate that he/she has received and read it, and should be enforced consistently and fairly. Employees, including executives, should be regularly trained in and reminded of the importance of the policy.
  2. Do protect your accounts with strong passwords. It is bad enough being responsible for your own words. It is worse if they aren’t really your words. Protect yourself with strong passwords. The best passwords are usually a long, random combination of letters and numbers, different for each account and never shared with anyone.
  3. Do remember that what you write now might be read by a judge or jury later. While the audience you probably have in mind is the message’s direct recipient, it is always possible that a judge or jury might later read what you have written. Choose your words carefully. Is that really what you want to say? What are you admitting?How could that choice of words be misconstrued or used against you?
  4. Do consult with your attorney. While it may not be practical to have everything you write reviewed by an attorney, certain subjects are so important or legally delicate that they merit attorney review. You may even want to have an attorney write an important message for you. Offers and negotiations with respect to large business deals, communications to or about a problematic employee, discussions of a dispute or an injury that occurred, are all examples of communications that you might want to have reviewed by an attorney before you send them.
  5. Do use electronic communications to your advantage by preserving admissions by the other side. The risks and consequences associated with electronic communications cut both ways. While your primary focus should be on what you and your employees say, pay attention to what others say as well. Take a few seconds to preserve evidence that might help you, so you have it if you need it.

Now, here are the don’ts:

  1. Don’t believe that anything you put into writing is “private”. Chances are that it isn’t. There are only a few types of communications that are “privileged” (meaning inadmissible against the writer in court), such as communications with your spouse, attorney and clergy—and even those only in certain instances. Most communications with your employees, partners, vendors and customers are discoverable by the other side in litigation and can be used against you at trial. Legal issues aside, certain statements might prove embarrassing to your business if made public. The safest bet is to assume nothing you write is private, so don’t write anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the whole world reading.
  2. Don’t send emails when you are angry. People say stupid things when they are angry—they make damaging admissions, stoop to low-road personal insults and make threats they later regret. Thinking over what you have written will usually lead to clearer, smarter statements and a less caustic tone. It is rare that an e-mail truly requires an immediate response, so I strongly recommend taking a day or two to think over what you have written and how you might refine it—especially if you are angry when you first write it.
  3. Don’t make or forward off-color jokes by email. So, first of all, you probably aren’t as funny as you think. More importantly, remember that a judge might be reading this one day. Even if you are confident that your intended recipient would find a joke about minorities or women really funny, chances are that a judge reading that email a couple years down the road would not find it so funny.
  4. Don’t comment on pending litigation. At best, nothing you post online is going to help the situation. At worst, you may subject yourself to a defamation or retaliation claim.
  5. Don’t destroy evidence. The law imposes an obligation to preserve (or at least not destroy) evidence in certain instances, such as if it is relevant to pending, threatened or probable litigation. Destroying evidence can sometimes be worse than the evidence itself. Plus, technology often makes it impossible to truly destroy evidence of electronic communications anyway. So, the point here is definitely not to go back and get rid of electronic communications that you think might pose a problem. The point is to be smart about what you are putting in writing in the first place.

Joshua Korman is an attorney from Buffalo, NY, who focuses on business law and estate planning.  Information about his law practice and other articles by him are available on his law firm’s website: www.brodykorman.com.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

When Do You Check Your Email? New Report Says Most Do ‘At All Times’

Checking Email at Night, on Weekends and Holidays Is the New Norm for U.S. Workforce

(Image: ThinkStock)

Due to the widespread availability and use of smartphones and tablets, email is more accessible than ever and, as a result, it has become deeply embedded in the daily workplace and personal lives of most employees.

The conventional, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., five-day work week is a thing of the past for the overwhelming majority of workers at small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), according to a new survey on work-related email habits. The independent, blind survey of 503 employees in SMB workplaces in the U.S. was conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of GFI Software.

“Email has transformed the way we do business globally, but it has also had a fundamental impact on the work/life balance for many employees, especially in smaller organizations,” said Phil Bousfield, general manager of IT operations at GFI Software. “The research results have affirmed how critical it is for organizations to manage the use of email effectively, not only to prevent employees from being overwhelmed by a deluge of data, but also to ensure that email is exploited as a revenue generator and benefit to the business, rather than an inconvenience.”

The results highlight employee habits around email usage, including response frequency during the work day as well as after hours:

The new 24/7 paradigm

  • Based on the reported email habits of survey respondents, the line between work and home life has become blurred. More than three-quarters of respondents (81%) said they check their work email on weekends, 55% check email after 11 p.m. and 59% keep on top of their work email while on vacation.
  • Outside of regular work hours, more than six in 10 (64%) check email at least once a day. 12% of employees said they check work email in real time beyond the standard workday.
  • One in 10 respondents admitted to checking work email at a child’s school event, 9% at a wedding, and 6% at a funeral. An additional 6% said they logged into their work email while they or their spouse was in labor.
  • On the flip side, nearly one-third (30%) of employees also said they send personal emails from their work account.

Email used at the office more than any other form of communication

  • Despite the growing use of instant messaging platforms, email dwarfs other forms of office communication. 44% of respondents use email at work more than any other communications format, with 28% relying primarily on the phone, 22% on face-to-face, and 6% on instant messaging.
  • Email is a constant presence in the lives of SMB employees during the workday. More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents said they typically reply to emails within one hour during work hours, with nearly one-third of them (32%) replying within 15 minutes.

5 Strategies to Grow Your Email List

(Image: Thinkstock)

Building an email marketing database takes hard work—just ask any startup, small business or well-established company. Even though your contacts’ email addresses change when they ditch their old email address or move from one company to the next, it’s your job to ensure you’re constantly adding new contacts and cleaning out the old ones.

And, sadly, email marketers have email addresses for only 30% or less of their customers and prospect lists, online digital marketing outlet ClickZ reports.

If you want to grow your email list, follow these several tactics to grow your email list:

Keep it simple to opt in on your site

If nothing else, make it easy for your customers and prospects to find your opt-in form on your homepage. Using the generic “Sign Up for Email” located on the homepage footer, won’t work. Have your forms stand out.

“If you want to get more opt-ins, make the email invite more visible. Use a benefit-based call-to-action, and test an offer that you subsequently deliver in your welcome series,” writes ClickZ reporter Mike Hotz.

Read more at ClickZ…

Top 5 Email Productivity Boosters

(Image: Thinkstock)

Email…can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Although electronic mail, most commonly referred to as email, is one of the best inventions known to man, it’s the second most time consuming activity for the workforce, according to  a 2012 study by McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corp. Take a closer look at how time is spent during the workday and you’ll discover that the average employee spends 25% of “work time” on digital communication.

Considering your commute into the office, overlapping meetings, conference calls, more meetings and your late-night venture back home, you know that every minute counts. It takes approximately two hours and 14 minutes for workers to filter through the collection of email received each day.

If you’re looking to take control of your inbox, Mashable lists five services to make your email experience smoother and make your day more productive:

Unroll.me

The service rolls up all of those annoying spam-like emails into one email called the “daily digest.” Just hit delete once to rid yourself of those spammy messages. You can also unsubscribe from coupons, eblasts, sale sellers and subscriptions by hitting the “unsubscribe” button. The service only supports Google and Yahoo Mail.

FanMix

Never miss a social message again. The free service collects all of your online accounts into a Gmail-themed inbox and gives you all your personal messages like Twitter DMs and Facebook messages.

Read more at Mashable…