Email security concerns every organization, from global corporations to family-run small businesses. This is because although email is an essential tool of business communication, it is also a weak point regarding digital security. And one that has been proven to be easy to exploit by cyber attackers and scammers.
If businesses are not using the correct or adequate secure email services, they may leave themselves open to attack. Data breaches can result in the loss of sensitive information, financial issues, and even fines from regulatory bodies. Not only that, breaches can take a considerable amount of time and effort to contain and fix, distracting from business practice in a very detrimental way.
Below is a closer look at five of the most common email security challenges businesses face (both big and small) and some advice on tackling these problems.
- Malware/Spam – Almost 70% of all email traffic is spam. Much of this is little more than harmless time-wasting, but a larger percentage than you might imagine contains malware that is specifically designed to cause damage to your system. Multi-scanning solutions and malware detection software are essential tools for detecting harmful spam and intercepting it before it can do any damage.
- Phishing – Perhaps second only to spam, phishing is the most popular type of email scam. Phishing involves scammers pretending to be something or someone else, requesting that email recipients hand over sensitive data or click on compromising links so that data can be harvested or gain access to secure systems.
- Weak Passwords – No matter how strong a business’s secure email service is, there is always an element of human interaction that can be vulnerable. Weak passwords are perhaps the most obvious example of this. The password is the gateway to even the most secure email system, so it is recommended that these are secure as possible. Businesses should implement effective password policies with staff and add two-factor authentication as a standard.
- Sending Confidential Data – Businesses often need to send communications containing sensitive information. This could be financial information or even personal details. To ensure that emails are not vulnerable to cyber attackers intercepting the messages, they must be encrypted. Most email platforms use Transport Layer Security (TLS) to offer basic email encryption services. However, a more secure encryption method is end-to-end. This ensures messages are encrypted by the sender and can only be decrypted by the recipient, using a combination of public and private keys.
Lost or stolen devices may not be an email issue in and of themselves, but often they grant immediate access to email accounts. Ideally, businesses should discourage using personal devices for work email or at least insist on a high level of password protection to prevent this from becoming a serious issue.
As well as a combination of secure email services such as two-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption, and malware detection, businesses of all sizes should invest in staff training. Even with all the most up-to-date email security applications in place, the weak link in the chain is often human error. Better training around recognizing spam, phishing, and spoofing attacks, combined with good password policies and procedures, can go a long way to creating secure email services in most organizations.