Small Business Email Security Mistakes
- by Brittany Day
Email threats and risks have never been more significant as cybercriminals continue to advance their attacks to evade email security defenses and deceive victims. This is true for all businesses; however, Small- and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) face a disproportionately higher level of risk due to the shortage of cybersecurity resources and expertise common among larger companies.
Attackers recognize that SMBs are often unprepared to defend against modern email threats, and forty-three percent of cyberattack targets are now small businesses. As an SMB, understanding the email threats you face and how to defend against them is crucial in fostering email security, productivity, and long-term business success. In this article, we’ll help you:
- Discover how to implement robust email security software 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
- Stress the importance of outsourced cloud email security for a robust IT security program
- Make sure threat defense and risk management are top priorities
Email Risk Is Big for SMBs
Email is a powerful tool that is manipulated for SMB attacks. By leveraging email, cybercriminals can use various methods to obtain sensitive information. Threat actors take advantage of unencrypted email attachments, as many SMSs do not fully secure their confidential data, mainly due to the lack of email security awareness and resources that would make workers more aware of email threats. If the email gets hacked, attackers can access information and thus penetrate the company's system to distribute malware through these attachments to infect more computers and expand their network.
Cybercriminals will also try to contact an SMB employee to get sensitive information. This is typically done through phishing email attacks that claim to be from a known or trusted sender. It’s essential to be careful and not open unsafe links or attachments.
Risks to SMEs from Email Use: What Can Happen in the Worst Case Scenario?
The risks taken by small businesses can lead to serious email security issues for the entire company. Since emails are part of daily business operations to help employees communicate with each other, companies must take the proper measures to ensure they don't fall victim to cybercrime.
Small businesses face common email security risks when communicating through email. These email threats include phishing scams, data loss, and malware. Cyberattackers use phishing email attacks to send victims to websites where information will be stolen. Malware is a malicious program or code downloaded to the user’s or company's system to steal personal data or spread viruses.
There are many different ways a small business can improve its email security, such as using passwords with at least eight characters and numbers or keeping all software and operating systems current and up-to-date. Installing antivirus and anti-phishing software on all devices and running regular firewall scans is known to help. In addition, it is strongly recommended that all employees are informed about email security policies, and traditional email security training sessions should be held regarding handling email. If these measures are not applied, the entire company and its clientele will risk severe damage to their systems.
Data theft can hurt the company's reputation and cause hefty financial losses. Malware can result in system-wide problems and significantly increase productivity losses. Phishing email attacks can make businesses fall victim to fraud. It is necessary to be extra cautious when dealing with email as an SMB. Take the appropriate security measures to protect the company against phishing and other email threats.
The Importance of Effective Email Security for SMBs
Small businesses are often exposed to many dangers from online email security risks. Without reliable email protection, your business could quickly become a target for malicious hackers and other cybercriminals.
Why is email security so important? The answer is simple: it's all about protecting your and your company’s data. Because many organizations send sensitive material through their email accounts, losing confidential information can have serious consequences. Suppose this data falls into the hands of cybercriminals or malicious actors. In that case, it can lead to financial losses and more serious email security issues such as data loss and breaches.
Unfortunately, many small businesses underestimate the importance of email security. Small organizations need more time and resources to take care of the technical aspects of security, especially if they want to protect their data. As a result, they often have no choice but to take the risk and forgo basic security measures.
On the bright side, there are many ways to ensure you have a secure email account. These include email security services like real-time monitoring, spam filtering, and more advanced methods like encryption and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). There are also cloud email security software solutions that can help you secure your network against all email threats.
Using and engaging with these technologies for your small business can protect your organization from more serious email security issues, including phishing email attacks and malware. With the proper email protection, you can ensure that your business is safe and that all internal and external messages are processed securely.
To improve email security, you need to take the proper steps:
- Invest in robust security solutions for your network.
- Make sure employees are constantly aware of new email threat situations.
- Conduct regular testing to maintain complete advanced threat protection over your system.
- Use multi-factor authentication for each user’s account.
- Try to use virus or firewall software and malware URL scanners as much as possible.
If you utilize these best practices for email security, your organization can maintain a superior level of email protection without significant additional investment or effort!
What Are Common Email Security Mistakes Among Small Businesses?
Failure to address the fundamentals first
Failure to address the fundamentals first
Small businesses need to set up password protection for all their accounts and avoid insecure connections, which will ensure that all email communications are safe. These basics are crucial for small businesses, as intruders are more likely to breach the system without these simple forms of email protection.
It's also essential to actively familiarize yourself with the email security risks you face when communicating. Encryption technologies are another critical step in maintaining a secure email. Businesses can also install spam filters and regularly update their email protection software and advanced threat protection systems to ensure data loss prevention and overall email security.
Small businesses will sometimes disregard email security issues and not take necessary action, underestimating the dangers of email communication and not realizing the importance of preventative measures and email security policies. Occasionally, a company will just not act quickly enough to deal with a potential attack before some damage to email communications and data confidentiality. In these scenarios, you must consult a professional IT service provider to ensure that your network is and remains fully protected and that no vulnerability lets attackers take over accounts through your business.
To provide adequate email security, small businesses need to consider and understand the basics and take all the necessary steps to secure their network. In addition, companies should always keep their eyes open and respond appropriately if potential email threats appear.
Relying on built-in Microsoft 365 email protection alone
Many small businesses rely on Microsoft 365's built-in email protection without considering what happens when a mistake occurs. Many small businesses need a separate email security software solution but, instead, rely on Microsoft 365 security, which is not designed to handle complex email security risks and email threats. When a failure occurs in this integrated solution, it is often challenging for small businesses to fix the damage.
Suppose your business relies on Microsoft 365's integrated email protection and wants to ensure you have a secure email. In that case, you should invest in a reputable third-party supplementary email security software 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 for email protection. While it's true that endpoint security solutions are an essential part of protecting against cyberattacks, further measures need to be taken. A complete email security strategy requires a combination of different technologies and processes.
These include monitoring mail server protocols, protecting network inputs and outputs to prevent malicious actors from stealing sensitive data and incorporating strong authentication and encryption systems. An organization can be effectively protected from email threats with all these solutions.
Sometimes, not all employees adhere to email security policies. These should be reviewed regularly and adjusted if necessary so that all employees know and follow the latest email security rules to protect their company.
Every company should also conduct regular tests for its email security to find vulnerabilities and become familiar with potential threat scenarios. Conducting external penetration tests to determine whether external attackers could penetrate the network is also advisable. You can utilize sandboxing malware to safely test for risks in your security system that can be patched before a breach. Regardless of the outcome of such tests, any company needs to make regular backups of all data and store them in a secure location. This way, lost or stolen material can be quickly recovered during a cyberattack. There have been many cases where users and organizations faced significant data loss following an attack.
Watch: Shortcomings of Endpoint Security in Securing Business Email
Not investing in fully managed email security services
Many small businesses must be more proactive regarding email protection and extend limited IT resources by investing in fully managed email security services. Usually, businesses rely on their routers and firewall settings to ensure they are secure. However, these systems have minimal security capabilities.
Some small businesses also depend on antivirus software for their workstations or laptops, which is ineffective in protecting their email security. Antivirus software is usually installed only on Windows-based systems, leaving Mac OS X and Linux unprotected. The best way to ensure email protection is to use fully managed email security services that support all email clients and automatically download updates for all systems in real time. These options offer the expert, ongoing system monitoring, maintenance, and support required to detect and eliminate potential email threats rapidly.
Failure to require that staff engage in email security awareness training
Another reason small companies need more security is that employees are not required to attend training, a severe aspect of larger companies that seek to expect their workers to detect any and all cybercrime dangers. SMBS are more sensitive to potential attacks and cannot detect and avoid them. As a result, many employees do not know what to look for and what they should do if their company falls victim to such an attack.
Email Security Tips & Best Practices for SMBs
Cybersecurity is an essential issue for all businesses, tiny and medium-sized ones. 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 ensure all employees can easily read and send their emails.
- Sign contracts with third parties for data loss prevention security. For example, this could be an IT company or a cloud specialist whose contracts ensure that all data in your company is protected and there is no risk of a data breach.
- Regularly review and update existing email threats and IT systems. Make sure your systems are up to date by conducting a thorough analysis.
- Secure your data in the cloud. Creating daily backups in multiple secure locations, such as the cloud or a hybrid data center, is a good idea to ensure you have unhindered and constant access to the information you need, even in a cyberattack.
- Train your employees on cybersecurity. Human recklessness is one of the top reasons for successful attacks. Consider implementing an email security 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 still need to take steps to protect their email security. This issue is of great importance to any business, especially smaller companies that often have a more limited budget and fewer resources to protect their IT systems. However, common mistakes in email security can lead to severe consequences, including data loss, financial conflicts, and a severely damaged reputation. It is vital to keep learning and understanding how to improve your email security:
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