Email is the most critical communication tool for your business. Communicating via email is fast and easy, but also leaves a legal trail of evidence that brings accountability to any communication. Unfortunately, when it comes to cybercrime, email is also one of the most commonly targeted elements. Emails have the potential to serve as an easy, backdoor entry for cybercriminals into your organization’s IT systems. Email is an easy target simply because there is much more human touch involved in emailing.
There’s always a chance that someone might end up clicking on a phishing link, downloading the wrong attachment or simply including confidential information that might be hacked. It’s imperative that you deploy reliable security solutions for your email due to the critical role email has in your business environment. This blog post discusses email security and how you can keep your email clean and safe.
Train Your Employees on Email Security
Emails are a soft target because of the human element involved. The first step to securing your email systems is training your employees. Train your employees to identify harmful email messages and to be aware of your firm’s IT protocols and rules.
There are 4 major ways in which your employees may end up compromising your email security.
1. Falling for phishing scams
These emails will appear to have come from an authentic source and urge the reader to take an action. Usually, the action involves clicking on a link and/or sharing sensitive information via an online form that looks authentic. The phishing links and the webpage clone the original site so well that it’s easy to mistake them for their authentic counterparts. For example, an email that looks as if it is from the IRS, asking for sensitive financial data, or an email that seems to be from the bank asking you to log into your account.
2. Mistaking hacked emails as authentic ones
These emails are actually from an authentic sender account, but their account may have been hacked. One of the ways to spot such email messages is if ‘something feels suspicious.’ For example, an email that’s ridden with typos or spelling and grammar errors, etc.
3. Not following strict password hygiene
There are 2 risks here. First is password sharing. Sharing passwords puts your email systems at risk. People trust their coworkers and end up sharing system or email passwords without realizing the possible consequences. Sometimes, it’s just easier to share a password than follow the protocol. For example, Bob from sales is too busy to prepare his commission report so he gives his password to Lisa from accounting to calculate his commission for the month. Lisa shares with her team, so they can work on the reports. Before you know it, three other people apart from Bob have access to his system including his emails.
The second issue in password hygiene pertains to ignoring password basics. Having passwords that are too simple, not changing passwords as recommended, or having the same password for multiple accounts.
4. Exposing their own devices to safety threats and then using them for work purposes due to the BYOD environment
This is a threat due to the modern hybrid workplace. Businesses allow their employees to work from anywhere, using their own devices. For example, someone could be accessing and replying to an email from work, using their phone or iPad, connected to the open wi-fi at a coffee shop. The risk open networks bring to the table is unimaginable.
You can organize classroom training sessions to educate your employees about your IT policies related to password management, use of personal devices, data sharing and internet access. You can also conduct IT workshops to help your employees identify possible IT security threats. Another aspect of email security is deploying a suitable email security solution. But, with so many available in the market, what should you be looking for when opting for an email security tool?
Here are some key features you would want in your email security solution.
Let’s start with the worst-case scenario. Your corporate email server is hacked. By opting for an email security solution that offers data encryption, you can ensure that the thieves are never really able to read the data they stole. Data encryption is basically the coding of data in a different format when it is sent and decoding it once it reaches the recipient. Without decryption keys, no one in the middle would be able to make sense of the data they access.
Ditch the server-based email system
In server-based email systems – the kind supported by most older versions of email software (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) – emails are stored on servers and transmitted every time the email software establishes a connection with them. The newer, web-based systems offer additional email security.
Make sure your email security tool has strong filtering capabilities to keep spam and malicious emails out of your inbox. Training employees to identify spam and fraudulent emails is good, but getting an email security software that keeps most of them away is even better.
When looking for email security software, consider artificial intelligence. Newer anti-malware uses threat intelligence, reputation services, and other near-real-time sources to pinpoint the location of threats to alert IT teams. Cybercriminals are getting smarter by the day and always, looking for ways to get around the anti-malware existing in the market. You need an email security solution that can keep up with them.
Apart from the above, be sure your emails are always backed up, archived, and stored safely. Email is your core communication tool, has legal value, and must be accessible at all times.
Another angle to look into is how to protect your email system from internal threats, like the malicious intent of your own employees. There is the possibility that somebody who works for you could corrupt your email system on purpose. You can avoid instances from happening by monitoring your employee’s IT behavior. You can do this by installing software programs that work to track employee access and activities and sends alerts in case of unusual IT behavior.
A breach of your email system is much more than that. An email hack has the potential to translate into data leakage, compromise sensitive data, or install malware that can paralyze your business functions entirely. If you don’t have time to look into your email security, consider seeking assistance from a Managed IT Service Provider like Universal Data Inc. They will be able to review your business requirements and suggest the right email security tool for you. They can also help you draft a sound IT policy if you don’t already have one and help with security awareness training.
As an IT services and cybersecurity firm, Universal Data can help with your business technology and cybersecurity needs. Contact us to learn more and schedule a meeting.