Comprehensive Email Security Guide for Businesses
- by Brittany Day
Email has become indispensable to modern life, personal communication, and professional business needs. However, as its use increases, so too do its associated threats. Email security has never been more crucial, making it essential to understand modern email threats to ensure we use the best email protection.
Email security threats are ever-evolving, from phishing attacks and malware downloads to email spoofing and impersonation - we must stay informed and take the necessary measures to protect ourselves and our organizations from these evolving dangers. In this article, we'll discuss the importance of email security and provide tips and resources to stay safe against these heightened digital risks.
Common & Costly Email Attack Types to Be on the Lookout For
Email is an essential tool for communication used by individuals and businesses alike. This is why it’s also a frequent target for cybercriminals seeking to steal data or infect systems with malware. According to FBI-gathered statistics, an email cybercrime happens every 39 seconds in the US and only happens more frequently as time passes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, a shocking 300% increase in cybercrime has occurred. This article will delve into the ramifications of these dangers and provide valuable tips to protect your organization from them.
The most common methods cybercriminals use to attempt to obtain information:
- Phishing: Phishing is the most prevalent form of email security threats used to obtain sensitive or personal data from individuals or companies. Attackers pose as trustworthy entities to get recipients to reveal sensitive data such as login credentials, credit card numbers, or other pertinent details.
- Spear Phishing: Spear phishing is a targeted type of phishing attack where the cybercriminal sends out personalized emails designed to gain access to sensitive information from targets, typically to gain entry through social media profiles, company directories, or other sources. They may use data gathered from these resources in their messages to make them seem more legitimate and obtain sensitive data from victims.
- Spam: Spam refers to unsolicited emails sent in large batches without request from recipients. While modern spam filtering usually catches and blocks most spam, one might sneak through and deliver malicious content directly into someone's inbox.
- Malware: Malware is software created to harm, disrupt, or gain unauthorized entry into computer systems. Hackers may embed malware in email attachments or links, leading to websites compromising recipients' devices and networks.
- Ransomware: Ransomware is a form of malware designed to prevent computer system access until an amount of money is paid to the attacker. Ransomware malware attackers encrypt your files until payment is given, usually in an untraceable form.
- Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks: An attacker intercepts communication between two parties to steal or alter their data. For email accounts, MITM attacks happen when an unauthorized party gains access to their email server and can read, delete, or modify emails before their recipients see them.
Best Practices for Robust Email Security
Keeping your email secure and safeguarding your personal and business information is paramount. This section will delve into the most effective ways of ensuring you adhere to the best practices for email security to minimize the likelihood of your company falling prey to email security risks, which will guarantee the protection of your personal and business information. Remember to always prioritize email security by following these guidelines:
Use a rich, comprehensive protection solution
As security solutions continue to advance, malicious actors are also adapting their tactics to evade standard protection solutions. Organizations must prioritize zero-day and targeted threat protection in addition to knowledge of recognizable attack vectors. More than relying on standard-based or known signatures, reputation-based checks will be required to protect against evolving threats.
Use a strong email password
Discussing the importance of password security may seem like a no-brainer, but the fact that 2 million people use "123456" as a password for at least one of their accounts reinforces the need for this conversation. Cybercriminals often rely on password guessing and social engineering tactics to gain access to breached accounts rather than resorting to brute force methods. The vulnerability of your email account increases with the ease of guessing passwords. You can use several methods to ensure a "strong password" that is difficult to guess so that you have a secure email account.
Use different email passwords for different email accounts
After devising a clever password that is easy to remember, using it for all accounts may be tempting. It's important to use different passwords for each of your accounts. If a hacker obtains your password for one account, they may try it on other accounts associated with your name. Using unique passwords can reduce the risk of all your accounts being compromised. Regularly changing passwords is one of the simplest and most effective email security measures. To ensure that this practice is followed, we suggest that:
- Employees are required to change their email password every 2 to 4 months.
- Instead of relying on employees to update their credentials, use devices to enforce password changes.
- Employees are prohibited from adding a single character or using a previous password to create a new one.
- Workers not be permitted to reuse previous passwords.
- Each new password adheres to the standard guidelines for strong passphrases, including a mix of lower and upper case letters, numbers, symbols, etc.
Any credible email provider will never request your password directly, whether through email or over the phone. If someone claiming to be a company representative, such as Gmail, asks for your password through these communication channels, it is highly likely to be a scam. Taking your password seriously and avoiding discussing it with others is essential, such as comparing password strength with friends or writing it down on a sticky note. Always keep your password confidential and secure.
Enable 2-factor authentication
Enabling 2-factor authentication in your Gmail account is a helpful way to ensure your account is secure. Setting up this feature requires you to enter your password and a temporary passcode sent to your phone via text message before accessing your account. This is a small step that can provide you with extra Gmail security in case you forget your password.
Tools & Services to Improve Your Email Security Posture
Thankfully, there are also many effective tools available to add to your email security arsenal. These are some of the most popular email security tools and services and their personal and professional uses.
- Email Protection Software: Different email security tools and protection services help keep your information secure. This helps provide phishing protection, virus protection, and cloud email security.
- DMARC: DMARC email utilizes domain alignment to authenticate the credibility and authorization of emails sent from your domain and protects against impersonation, email spoofing, and sender fraud. DMARC offers a means to instruct recipients on how to handle malicious emails. A quarantine or reject policy is necessary to effectively use the protocol as a defense against email spoofing, which can be challenging to implement. It is advisable to configure a DMARC email analyzer to prevent any mistakes.
- Encryption and Digital Signatures: Encryption scrambles email messages, making them inaccessible to unauthorized individuals, while digital signatures verify the sender's identity and confirm message authenticity. The sender's private key generates the digital signature, which can be authenticated by the recipient using the sender's public key.
Emerging Trends in Email Security
As email remains a primary mode of communication and a popular target for cyber attackers, secure email communication has become a significant concern. It's becoming increasingly important to stay up-to-date with the latest email security strategies, with threats like phishing and malware rising. Luckily, innovative technologies are being developed every day to enhance email security and keep us safe. By staying informed and proactive, we can maintain the confidentiality of our email communication and protect against any potential email threats. Here are some current technology advancements that make email safer:
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to sanitize emails is no longer futuristic. Several organizations are already leveraging AI to scan emails and detect phishing attempts. Organizations can combat phishing attacks by utilizing AI and Machine Learning technologies in email security and anti-phishing services. These advanced technologies work together to ensure email communications' safety and security.
- Zero-Trust Security Models: Zero Trust is a security model that emphasizes the need to verify and authenticate every user, device, and application that attempts to access a network or resource, regardless of whether they are inside or outside the network perimeter. Zero Trust principles ensure only authorized users and devices can access email systems and data.
- Cloud Email Security: Cloud Email Security is an excellent solution for protecting against email-based threats. Organizations can get access to advanced security features and real-time threat intelligence that might be challenging to achieve with in-house IT departments. The cloud's scalability and flexibility allow businesses of any size and budget to benefit from these features.
Keep Learning About Email Security
Email security is now more important than ever due to the constantly evolving landscape of email threats. With the advent of new technologies and digital transformations, these threats are becoming more sophisticated. It is crucial to implement best practices for email security and stay up-to-date with emerging trends to protect ourselves and our organizations. By doing so, we can safeguard our email communication and keep it secure.
- Learn more about an effective email security solution that understands your relationships with others while gaining a deeper knowledge of your conversations with them.
- Prepare your business for cyberattacks to make sure employees stay safe online.
- Follow best practices and improve your email security posture to protect against attacks and email security breaches.
- Keeping the integrity of your email safe requires securing the cloud with spam filtering and enterprise-grade anti-spam services.
- Get the latest updates on how to stay safe online.
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