Email security is not something any business should take lightly and is often the most crucial form of communication for many organizations. If someone were to gain access to your business emails, it could lead to significant data breaches, which can be costly to fix. Most of the people that attempt to hack or scam companies are opportunists who want to expend as few resources as possible. This is why implementing the best practices to ensure your emails are secure is typically enough to protect your business from the most common types of threats. In this article, we’ll cover the best practices that every business should follow in order to protect themselves and their customers from potential data breaches or other digital threats.
What Is Email Security Important?
The majority of companies in the US use email as a primary form of communication between staff, clients, and suppliers. As a result, your business receives a significant amount of emails per day, and research suggests that the average employee receives approximately 121 emails per day. Many of the emails that land in your staff email inbox may be unwanted spam or contain malicious malware. This is why email security and implement best practices into your processing is vital to ensure that your company data is secure against attacks.
Your Email Activity
The first step in developing best practices for your business security is understanding your company’s email activity. Consider key factors such as how many emails you may send a day, how many businesses you’re subscribed to, and how many email threads you send externally. Consolidating the relevant information about your email activity is the best way to identify potential security risks in your business emails.
For example, if your employees regularly receive emails that contain attachments or links, do you have the proper protection in place to scan these emails for harmful or malicious attachments and links before your staff member opens them? It can be simple for phishing emails to slip through disguised as a colleague sending through an updated tracker, and it’s imperative that your systems and staff can catch these emails before they’re opened.
A fantastic way to reduce the likelihood of a phishing email landing in your employee’s inbox under the guise of another colleague is to implement DMARC so that only authorized senders can use your domain. For more information on what DMARC is, head over to Valimail for their email DMARC report.
Don’t Mix Professional And Personal
Many business owners have personal and professional email accounts, and some have multiple accounts as they manage or are involved in more than one business. It can be tempting to reply to an email with whichever account you have open on your desktop, but it is vital that you don’t reply to any professional emails from your personal account.
Using a personal account for work purposes can lead to higher security risks, and personal accounts don’t typically have the same level of protection as your professional emails. Exchanging business-critical information via your personal emails leaves that data vulnerable if your personal account ever falls victim to a phishing email or hacker. Therefore, it is crucial that you keep your work emails and personal accounts as separate as possible.
Strong Email Passwords
Time is money, and many business owners fall victim to creating weak passwords in order to gain access to the accounts faster. However, the majority of cyberattacks don’t use force to gain entry into your systems, they employ software to guess your passwords, and the stronger the password, the less likely it will be that your account can be hacked.
There are several ways you can boost the strength of your passwords, including using symbols, mixing upper and lower case characters, increasing the length, and using numbers. It’s essential that you don’t use a combination of letters and numbers that is easy to guess, such as integrating business name, birthday, or common combination sequences like ‘1234’ as this puts your accounts at risk.
Another good practice to have in place alongside stronger passwords is to ensure you are changing them on a regular basis. Most companies implement mandatory monthly password changes for all staff to ensure there is minimum risk of data breaches to the business.
Many email providers offer two-factor authentication, also known as multi-factor or two-step authentication. This security tool prompts you to provide two separate pieces of identifying information, typically in the form of a password and app or text combination, before allowing you access to your accounts. While this can cause some delays in getting started with your day, it typically only takes a few seconds and adds an extra barrier of protection to your emails that keeps your account secure.
Most email providers also offer add-ons to increase your email security, and one of the best to take advantage of is an encryption add-on. However, suppose the provider you use doesn’t offer this. In that case, there are plenty of external developers that you can purchase this feature from to install on your business equipment separately to secure your attachments and email messages with end-to-end encryption.
Avoid Personal Devices
A popular trend that has surfaced with many new companies is the bring your own device policy, which allows and encourages staff members to use their personal devices for professional use. However, this can be detrimental to your business security; if a personal device is already infected with malware or does not have adequate security software installed, logging into professional emails could expose your enterprise to a potential cyberattack. It is vital that you take appropriate security precautions with every device that you allow to log into professional business accounts in order to protect against data breaches.
Use Secure Wi-Fi
When you run a business, you’re frequently out of the office to attend meetings with key clients or suppliers. As a result, you may often need to depend on free publicly accessible Wi-Fi, which could lead to a security breach as anyone with access to the Wi-Fi will also have the ability to monitor your devices, actions, and professional information. When you’re on the move, and you need to access your emails to work, it is crucial that you only use secure Wi-Fi, and you can often purchase a small dongle to use when you need access to the internet outside of the office.