Are Employees the Weakest Link in Your Email Security Strategy?
- by Brittany Day
When determining your email risk and assessing your email security strategy, it is common for administrators and IT professionals to focus on the threat that outsiders pose to their organization. While this is a valid concern, the critical mistake that is made far too frequently is the failure to address the role that employees play in many attacks and breaches.
Over 90% of cyberattacks are initiated via email, making effective email security a vital part of a business's overall security posture that is too often neglected. When email accounts are inadequately secured, employees are vulnerable to an array of dangerous threats, including targeted spear phishing and ransomware. Just one employee clicking on a link in a phishing email or downloading ransomware has the potential to destroy a company, especially if that company is a small or medium-sized business (SMB). Email-borne attacks and breaches often result in significant downtime, decreased productivity, legal fees, recovery costs, and ruined reputations, and 60% of small companies shut down within six months of falling victim to a data breach or a cyberattack.
The good news is there are numerous ways that you can mitigate the risk that employees pose to your business's security, productivity, and success. While employee education and security awareness training are beneficial, user behavior is ultimately unpredictable. Thus, investing in a comprehensive, fully supported email security solution that creates a safeguarded environment around the user by preventing all malicious mail from reaching the inbox is the most effective way to prevent the devastation that human error can cause.
What Are Best Practices for Fortifying Business Email Against Employee Error?
While employee behavior is ultimately unpredictable, there are certain measures that administrators, managers, and IT professionals should take to help influence and motivate employees to make secure, intelligent decisions. These best practices for reducing the risk of employee error include:
- Invest in employee education and security awareness training about email threats and email security. In order for employees to make smart choices pertaining to email security, employers must equip them with adequate knowledge about email-borne threats and steps that they can take to prevent successful attacks. Employees are a company’s last line of defense when it comes to securing business email accounts, and they must understand the importance of their actions and the serious repercussions that a mistake such as downloading a malicious attachment or clicking through a malicious link can have. Using a service like Guardian Digital Security Awareness Training can help train employees on the threats they face and how to mitigate risk, reducing your chances of suffering a damaging cyberattack or data breach.
- Encourage employees to choose strong, unique passwords and implement 2FA whenever possible. Utilizing strong passwords that are not reused across different accounts is imperative to mitigating email risk. Taking a strict approach to email passwords reduces the risk of dictionary attacks and website exploits, which can have devastating consequences for employees and organizations. Implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever it is available is also highly beneficial to an organization’s digital security posture and reduces the risk of account takeovers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has updated its guidelines to challenge traditional password security best practices. NIST now suggests that organizations not require employees to frequently change their passwords, as employees often respond to this requirement by storing their passwords in an insecure manner. NIST instead proposes the use of long passwords, which should be changed only if compromised.
- Emphasize the importance of thinking before interacting with any email message, and encourage employees to verify all suspicious emails that they receive. Clearly convey the message that it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to email security, and if an email appears strange or suspicious in any way, employees should not hesitate to report it to their manager or their company’s IT department.
- Invest in a proactive, multi-layered email security solution. Implement an email security solution that provides complete control of your email infrastructure and visibility into the threats targeting your organization and the security of your email. Choose a solution that is capable of protecting sensitive information and preventing data leakage with strong end-to-end encryption of both incoming and outgoing messages, is able to reliably identify and block advanced and emerging threats in real-time, and is fully supported by the ongoing expert system monitoring and maintenance required to ensure that users and key business assets remain safe in this heightened digital threat environment.
Why Are Insider Threats More Common & Costly to Businesses than Ever Before?
Although it does account for the majority of insider-related incidents, human error or negligence is not the only concern when it comes to employees and security. Insider threats of all types, which come from individuals within an organization, such as employees, former employees, contractors, or business associates who have inside information about sensitive data, computer systems, and security practices, are more prevalent and dangerous than ever before. According to Verizon, the number of insider-related breaches rises every year despite the fact that over 70% of insider attacks are not reported externally.
The majority of insider threats fall into three categories:
- Malicious Insider Threats: An individual within an organization intentionally seeks to steal information, leak data, or harm an organization in any way.
- Careless Insider Threats: Employees or other insiders don’t understand an organization’s security policies or fail to follow security rules, putting the organization at risk of data leaks, malware infections, and other types of malicious cyberattacks.
- Compromised Insider Threats: An employee’s email account is taken over by a threat actor through credential phishing or malware in order to compromise sensitive data or make fraudulent financial transactions.
Almost all insider threats involve email, making effective email security crucial in protecting businesses against not only malicious outsiders but insiders as well.
Mitigate Phishing Risk with Guardian Digital Fully-Managed Security Awareness Training
Phishing your users is as critical as keeping outsiders from infiltrating your network! With Guardian Digital Phishing Training, you can easily learn which employees are potentially putting your organization at risk of suffering a cyberattack or data breach and require further training. Users are your last line of defense against cyber thieves, and training and testing them on recognizing phishing emails is an essential part of a defense-in-depth cybersecurity strategy. And what’s the cost of failing to engage in this best practice? If you don't train your users, cybercriminals will teach them the hard way.
Unlike other security awareness training products, Guardian Digital Phishing Training is fully managed by a team of security experts responsible for educating your users and securing your business.
Guardian Digital expert trainers will partner with your business to develop awareness modules and materials based on your organization and the specific threats it faces. This personalized training involves frequent program updates, content understandable by a beginner audience, real-world training using customizable templates, and comprehensive reports explaining who requires additional training.
Keep Learning About Defending Against Employee Error & Insider Threats with Robust Email Security
Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security offers fully supported all-in-one email protection, effectively mitigating businesses’ risk of suffering an insider attack. Powered by advanced Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) and AI technologies, EnGarde accurately identifies and rapidly quarantines both new and known threats in real time, preventing them from reaching the inboxes where they could cause severe harm. EnGarde secures business email accounts against outsiders and insiders alike with the following key features:
- A resilient multi-tiered architecture, in which individual security features work harmoniously to detect and combat threats in real-time, bolstering endpoint protection and closing critical security gaps in native Microsoft 365 email security
- Zero-hour outbreak control that protects against new, unknown threats
- Neutralizes threats associated with malicious attachments and links
- Authenticates every email delivered using DMARC, DKIM, and SPF
- Protects sensitive data with powerful end-to-end encryption of incoming and outgoing emails
- State-of-the-art heuristic technologies recognize malicious code and accurately identify and block highly targeted phishing and impersonation attempts
- Dynamic reputation system classifies emails based on origin
- Real-time URL filtering and advanced URL analysis detect and stop the most targeting phishing attacks
- A scalable cloud-based system simplifies deployment and increases availability
- Tighter security, adaptive implementation, and eliminated risk of vendor lock-in through the use of a transparent, collaborative development approach
- Expert ongoing system monitoring, maintenance, and support enhance IT security, productivity, and convenience
- Real-time cybersecurity business insights accessible via the EnGarde Cloud Email Security Dashboard allow for improved decision-making and better enforcement of company security policies
- Guardian Digital Security Awareness Training provides effective, fully managed security awareness training for your employees
Set your business up for security and success by fortifying your email against both outsider and insider threats. How effective is your existing email protection? Assess Your Email Risk & Improve Your Email Security Strategy Now>
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