Why You Should Use Email Encryption: 5 Major Benefits to Your Business’s Cybersecurity
With the increase in email usage over the years, there has also been an increase in cyber threats. So, email security should be at the top of your list of priorities. Encryption is one technique that has proven to be a game-changer for many industries.
Emails can undoubtedly benefit from this procedure, adding another security layer to your information. Along with a rise in phishing and fraud attacks since the COVID-19 outbreak, impersonation-based social engineering attacks have also risen. With the dependence of organizations on emails showing a continuous rise, their vulnerability to scams, malware, and ransomware targeting email data has increased.
Many organizations erroneously think their current email security systems are up to protect them from phishing attacks from today’s more sophisticated, well-resourced, and targeted attackers. Unfortunately, many email security systems fail to keep their organizations safe despite existing protection. Considering the ever-increasing threat to email security, it’s worth considering encrypting your emails. Read on as we discuss how worthwhile encrypting emails indeed is.
What is Email Encryption & How Does It Work?
Email encryption keeps unwanted individuals from your messages and confidential information. It protects your correspondence by scrambling your shared information into an encrypted form. After that, no one except the intended recipients can understand what you meant. The intended recipient gets a standard message in plaintext.
So, email encryption is crucial on occasions when you share highly sensitive information. However, most email providers already offer email encryption to protect their clients. HTTPS is the default encryption used by Gmail. Additionally, it uses Transport Layer Security (TLS), which prevents others from reading your emails. Luckily, most providers support TLS, meaning you will be secure even if you connect to someone outside Gmail.
Furthermore, other email encryption techniques exist:
- PGP (Pretty Good Privacy): This type of encryption is usually chosen to encrypt communications between two people. It uses a public key associated with a user to encrypt emails. When that user sends an email, their private key decrypts that message.
- S/MIME: Gmail offers S/MIME to its G Suite Enterprise and G Suite Education accounts. It also uses a public-private key pair to send encrypted messages that only recipients can decrypt.
Email encryption works with the help of PKI, also known as Public Key Infrastructure. It means that public and private keys are used for the encryption. So, parties exchange encrypted emails, and both have personal digital certificates. Public keys encrypt messages, while private ones revert to their original form. So, anyone can encrypt a message, but only the party possessing the private keys can decrypt them.
It essentially means encrypting all contents of emails. So, only the intended recipients can crack the code and see your message in plain text. Others will see a scrambled version of the information. If you are wondering about its benefits, the primary purpose of email encryption is to prevent data breach.
How Will Email Encryption Help Your Business?
Most users believe that emails are likely the most secure form of online communication. Emails are indeed secure when they travel from the sender to the recipient. However, it all depends on the provider that users choose.
With so many emailing services available, some messages could end up compromised. It is also possible that emails will be at risk through other means. For instance, recipients could screenshot messages or open their inboxes around random people.
The 5 Main Benefits of Email Encryption
Notable benefits of email encryption include:
- Security: Email encryption ensures the confidentiality and integrity of your email messages. It prevents unauthorized access and protects sensitive information from being intercepted or viewed by unauthorized individuals.
- Data Protection: Encrypted emails safeguard your data and personal information. It prevents hackers or cybercriminals from stealing sensitive data, such as bank account details, social security numbers, or personal identification information.
- Compliance: Many industries have legal and regulatory requirements for protecting sensitive data, such as healthcare records (HIPAA) or financial information (PCI DSS). Email encryption helps organizations comply with these regulations and avoid potential legal consequences.
- Message Authentication: Encryption provides message authentication, which allows recipients to verify the authenticity of the email sender. This ensures the email originated from the claimed sender and has not been tampered with in transit.
- Business Reputation: Encrypting emails demonstrates a commitment to data security and privacy, boosting your business's reputation. It reassures customers, partners, and collaborators that their communication and shared data are protected, making them more likely to trust and engage with your organization.
Email encryption might not be a cure for all threats. Nevertheless, it is a powerful addition to your security mechanism.
Additional Security Steps You Can Take
In addition to email encryption, there are several other important security steps you can take to enhance the protection of your email. By incorporating these security practices into your email usage, you can establish a robust defense against potential breaches and maintain the confidentiality and integrity of your electronic communication:
Protect Emails Further with a VPN
An easy way to boost email security is to download VPN apps. A Virtual Private Network transfers all data between you and the internet through an encrypted tunnel so no one can decipher the contents. It also prevents your online tracking by hiding your IP address. A VPN can be useful for adding another layer to your email correspondence. It can also be incredibly beneficial if you use an email provider that does not apply the necessary encryption.
Perform an Email Risk Assessment
An email risk assessment refers to using the email address as the basis for transactional risk assessment and fraud prevention. The process consists of building a comprehensive picture of the reputation and identity of the buyer by using data associated with an email address.
This process equips fraud managers with intelligence for accurate evaluation and organizations with critical insights that they can use to expedite approvals, automate workflows, optimize manual review, make informed cybersecurity business decisions, and bolster their email security defenses to defend against cyberattacks and breaches.
To improve your organization’s email security strategy to defend against today’s advanced email threats, you must first understand your email risk, the effectiveness of your current email security strategy, and measures you can take to improve your email security posture. Conducting an email risk assessment can help provide you with these critical insights.
Encrypt All Emails
To be safe, you should encrypt all your messages, not just those that are confidential or carry sensitive information. It's because when a hacker notices that 99% of your emails are not encrypted, and there’s only a particular one that is, it gives a loud signal to a hacker that the encrypted email contains sensitive information waiting to be hacked.
Encrypting emails converts the information from plain text that can be read easily into scrambled cipher text. The message can be read by only the recipient in possession of the private key matching the public key used for encrypting the message. Encrypting all your emails would make it hard for any hacker to sift through them and locate the one worth hacking. Even if hackers choose to invest some time in your emails, upon finding that even the ones carrying the most mundane of messages are encrypted, they shall likely give up.
Keep Learning About The Importance of Encryption for Businesses
The continuous rise in the use of mobile devices and the fall in face-to-face communication have made it much easier for hackers to hunt down employee security habit vulnerabilities and weak email security mechanisms. Some basic security measures have been adopted by IT teams, which are no longer effective. The costs are therefore high. Email breaches can hurt brand image, which could push customers to look for industry alternatives. Sometimes, even employees might be more inclined to quit after devastating incidents.
Companies can also be fined for non-compliance with statutory requirements. The EU has charged companies with millions for not meeting compliance requirements recently. Corporate entities should encrypt email communication to prevent costly information leaks and compliance issues.
Encryption of emails boosts the security of your emails significantly. Encryption makes it difficult for third parties to decipher the content of your emails. It's wise to encrypt all your emails to ensure no hacker can locate which ones carry sensitive information. Encryption is an effective tool against hackers waiting to pounce on sensitive communication we should all take advantage of.
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