Small Business Email Security Mistakes
- by Brittany Day
Email risk has never been greater, as cybercriminals continue to advance their attacks to evade security defenses and deceive victims. This is true for all businesses; however, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face a disproportionately high level of risk due to the shortage of cybersecurity resources and expertise that is common among these companies.
Attackers recognize that SMBs are often unprepared to defend against modern email threats, a reality that makes these organizations an increasingly popular target among cybercriminals. Forty-three percent of cyberattacks now target small businesses.
As a SMB, understanding the email threats you face and how to defend against them is crucial in fostering security, productivity and long term business success. In this article, we’ll help you:
- Discover how to implement robust email security for the long term
- Learn about different strategies and techniques to fend off persistent cyberattacks
- Understand what it takes to be effectively protected against modern digital threats
- Learn more about the importance of outsourced email security for a strong IT security program
- Make sure threat defense and risk management are top priorities
Email Risk Is Big for SMBs
Email is a powerful tool for small business attacks. By leveraging email, cybercriminals can use a variety of methods to obtain sensitive information. One common threat is the exploitation of unencrypted email attachments. Due to a lack of cybersecurity resources and awareness, many SMBs use unencrypted email attachments to secure confidential data. However, this practice poses some dangers. If the email is hacked, attackers can gain access to the attachments and thus penetrate the company's system. In addition, they can also distribute malware through these attachments to infect more computers and thus expand their network.
Another common method that cybercriminals use against SMBs is to try to contact the company's employees in order to obtain sensitive information. To do this, they often use phishing emails claiming to be from a known or trusted sender. Here too, it is important to be careful and not to open any unsafe links or attachments.
Risks to SMEs from Email Use & What Can Happen in the Worst Case Scenario?
Small businesses, just like large enterprises, are exposed to great risks when using email. These risks can lead to serious security issues for the entire company. Since emails are an integral part of daily business operations, companies need to take the right measures to ensure they don't fall victim to cybercrime.
Some of the most common risks small businesses face when using email are phishing scams, data theft and malware. Phishing is a form of social engineering that attempts to steal confidential data such as usernames and passwords. Cybercriminals often use fraudulent emails or websites to achieve their goal. Malware is also a common threat to small businesses. Malware is a malicious program or code downloaded to the company's system with the function of stealing personal data or spreading viruses on the system.
There are many different ways a small business can improve its email security. These include using passwords with at least eight characters and numbers, and keeping all software and operating systems up to date. It is also advisable to install antivirus software on all devices and run regular firewall scans. In addition, it is strongly recommended that all employees are informed about security policies and that regular training sessions are held on how to handle email.
If these security measures are not implemented, there is a risk of serious damage to the entire company and its clientele. Data theft can have a negative impact on the company's reputation and cause hefty financial losses, malware can cause system-wide problems and significantly increase productivity losses, and phishing attacks can make businesses fall victim to fraud. Therefore, it is necessary to be extra cautious when dealing with email as a SME, and take appropriate security measures to ensure the company's protection against phishing and other threats.
The Importance of Effective Email Security for SMBs
Small businesses are often exposed to many dangers from online risks. A critical part of these risks is the security of email, which is an important communication platform for businesses. Without reliable email protection, your business could easily become a target for malicious hackers and other cybercriminals.
But why is email security so important? The answer is simple: it's about protecting your data. The loss of confidential information can have serious consequences, as many organizations send sensitive material through their email accounts. If this data falls into the hands of malicious actors, it can lead not only to financial losses, but also to more serious issues such as data breaches and image loss.
Unfortunately, many small businesses underestimate the importance of email security. They don't have enough time or resources to take care of the technical aspect of security. As a result, they often have no choice but to take the risk and forgo basic security measures.
Fortunately, there are many ways to make your email account more secure these days. These include services like real-time monitoring and filtering, as well as more advanced methods like encryption and multi-factor authentication (MFA). There are also cloud-based email security solutions that can help you secure your network against threats.
By leveraging these technologies, you can protect your organization from more serious email security issues, including phishing attacks and malware. With the right protection, you can ensure that your business is safe and that all messages sent internally and externally are processed securely.
To improve the security of your email, you need to take the right steps: Invest in powerful security solutions for your network; make sure employees are constantly aware of new threat situations; conduct regular testing; use multi-factor authentication for each user account; and try to use virus scanners or firewall software as much as possible. By doing these things, your organization can maintain a superior level of protection for its email - without significant additional investment or effort!
Common Email Security Mistakes among Small Businesses
Failure to address the fundamentals first
Small businesses that make it their mission to protect their email should take care of the basics first. These include setting up password protection for all accounts and avoiding insecure connections. These two basic steps will ensure that your organization protects its email communications from intruders.
It's also important to actively familiarize yourself with the risks you face when communicating via email. Using encryption technologies is another important step in keeping your email secure. Businesses can also install spam filters and regularly update their software and systems to ensure their data security.
Another mistake small businesses can make when it comes to email security is ignoring the issue or not taking necessary action. Many businesses tend to underestimate the dangers of communicating via email and not realize the importance of taking preventative measures and complying with regulations.
There are also situations where a company recognizes signs of a potential attack on its email communications, yet fails to act in a timely manner. If your company has detected signs of a potential attack (e.g. unexpected login attempts), it is important to take immediate action to fix the problem. In addition, you should always consult a professional IT service provider to ensure that your network is and remains fully protected and that no vulnerabilities remain.
To provide effective security for your email, small businesses need to consider and understand the basics and take all the necessary steps to secure their network. In addition, businesses should always keep their eyes open and respond appropriately if signs of potential threats appear or are suspected.
Relying on built-in Microsoft 365 email protection alone
Many small businesses rely on Microsoft 365's built-in email protection without thinking about what happens when a mistake occurs. The truth is, most small businesses don't have an option to fix the damage caused by such a mistake.
The problem is that many small businesses don't have a separate email security solution. Instead, they rely on Microsoft 365's integrated solution, which is not designed to handle complex security threats. When a failure occurs in this integrated solution, it is often very difficult for small businesses to fix the damage.
If your business relies on Microsoft 365's integrated email protection and you want to be sure that your email is secure, you should invest in a reputable third-party supplementary email security solution.
Watch: Microsoft 365 Email Security Limitations You Should Know
Viewing endpoint security alone as enough to defend against attacks
Small businesses are often under the mistaken impression that endpoint security alone is enough to protect against email attacks. While it's true that endpoint security solutions are an important part of protecting against cyberattacks, there are further measures that need to be taken. A complete email security strategy requires a combination of different technologies and processes.
These include monitoring mail server protocols and protecting network inputs and outputs to prevent malicious actors from stealing sensitive data from a network. Measures such as strong authentication and encryption are also essential. Only with all these solutions can an organization be effectively protected from email threats.
Another mistake with email security in small businesses is that not all employees adhere to security policies. Policies need to be reviewed regularly and adjusted if necessary. Therefore, it is important that all employees are aware of the latest security rules and follow them.
Every company should also conduct regular tests for its email security to find vulnerabilities and become familiar with potential threat scenarios. It is also advisable to conduct external penetration tests to determine whether external attackers could penetrate the network.
Regardless of the outcome of such tests, it is very important for any company to make regular backups of all data stores and store them in a secure location. This way, in the event of a cyberattack, lost or stolen material can be easily recovered in many cases.
Watch: Shortcomings of Endpoint Security in Securing Business Email
Not investing in fully-managed email security services
Many small businesses are not proactive when it comes to email protection and fail to extend limited IT resources by investing in fully-managed email security services. They rely on the settings of their routers and firewalls and trust that they are secure. This is a mistake because routers and firewalls have very limited security capabilities.
Some small businesses also rely on antivirus software for their workstations or laptops. However, this is not an effective way to protect their email security because antivirus software is usually installed only on Windows-based systems, leaving Mac OS X and Linux unprotected. The best way to protect email security in small businesses is to use fully-managed email security services that support all types of email clients and automatically download updates for all systems in real-time. These services offer the expert, ongoing system monitoring, maintenance and support required for the rapid detection and elimination of potential threats.
Failure to require that staff engage in security awareness training
Another reason for the lack of security in small companies is the fact that employees are not required to attend security awareness training. In larger companies, this aspect is often taken very seriously and all employees are expected to be aware of the dangers of cybercrime. This makes them more sensitive to potential attacks, and better able to detect and avoid them. In small businesses, on the other hand, it is often assumed that all employees are already aware of the dangers of cybercrime and therefore do not need separate training. As a result, many employees do not even know what to look out for and what they should do should their company actually fall victim to such an attack.
Email Security Tips & Best Practices for SMBs
Cybersecurity is an important issue for many businesses, but especially small and medium-sized businesses should be concerned about it. If you want to improve email security at your company, here are some tips that can help:
- Create a list of all the email addresses in your company. This list should also include the contact information of the people to whom these addresses are sent. This way, you can ensure that each employee receives the correct information.
- Regularly check the settings for all email programs in your company. Pay special attention to the program's password and security features. This will help you ensure that all employees can read and send their emails with ease.
- Sign contracts with third parties for data security. This could be an IT company, for example, or a cloud specialist. These contracts ensure that all data in your company is protected and that there is no data breach.
- Regularly review and update existing threats and IT systems. Make sure your systems are up to date by conducting a thorough analysis.
- Secure your data in the cloud. It's a good idea to create daily backups in multiple secure locations, such as the cloud or a hybrid data center, to ensure you have unhindered and constant access to the information you need, even in the event of a cyberattack.
- Train your employees on cybersecurity. Human recklessness is one of the top reasons for successful attacks. Consider implementing a training program to develop conscious judgment against sensitive company data.
- Design a response plan for unauthorized access. Taking a defensive view can reduce the risk to your organization.
Keep Learning about SMB Email Security
Many small and midsize businesses have not yet taken the necessary steps to protect their The issue of email security is of great importance to any business, especially smaller businesses that often have a more limited budget and fewer resources to protect their IT systems. However, common mistakes in email security can lead to serious consequences, including data loss, financial losses and a severely damaged reputation. It is important to keep learning and understanding how to improve your email security:
- Download a free cybersecurity awareness PDF to learn about implementing best practices to protect your business from attacks.
- Improve knowledge and skills to ensure you stay up-to-date and can protect your business from threats by signing up for our weekly newsletter.
Must Read Blog Posts
- Demystifying Phishing Attacks: How to Protect Yourself in 2023
- What You Need to Know to Shield Your Business from Ransomware
- Shortcomings of Endpoint Security in Securing Business Email
- Microsoft 365 Email Security Limitations You Should Know in 2023
- Complete Guide to Email Viruses & Best Practices to Avoid Infections in 2023
- How Phishing Emails Bypass Microsoft 365 Default Security
Latest Blog Articles
- Is Zero Trust Beneficial For Businesses?
- Combating the Cyber Risks of Misconfigured Cloud Services
- The Cost of Phishing For Businesses
- What Is A Business Impersonation Attack?
- What Is S/MIME and How Can It Secure Email?
- How to Create an Effective Cybersecurity Business Continuity Plan
- Emerging Phone Scams Capable of Evading Email Security
- Complete Guide to Phishing for Businesses: What is Phishing? Protect Your Organization From Phishing Attacks
- What You Need to Know to Shield Your Business from Ransomware
- Demystifying Phishing Attacks: How to Protect Yourself in 2023