Email is a cyber thief's quickest and easiest way to attempt a security breach within your organization. Once hackers have gained access to your email content, they can wreak havoc. They can obtain client data, leverage private details about your business, and use your company's financial information. The results can be catastrophic, causing your company significant financial losses and negatively impacting its reputation for the long-term.
Unfortunately, small and medium-sized businesses are particularly susceptible to these kinds of email-related security breaches. Why? It often comes down to budget and protocol.
SMBs often don't have a large, specialized team of onsite IT staff to maintain email security. Unless they collaborate with a technology consultant, they may not know which solutions can automate email security monitoring. Moreover, small and medium-sized businesses rarely have employee protocols for email content, leaving employees unaware of how they can recognize—and consequently handle—phishing and ransomware attempts.
Don't lose money from breaches and scams. Start protecting your business with these three email security tips.
1. Train your employees
Consider these scenarios:
- One of your employees gets an email, seemingly from your IT department or a consultant, requesting a password change. Believing it's in the company's best interest, the employee opens the embedded link, enters their current username and password, believes they are typing in a new password, and hits send. They've been phished.
- One of your employees opens an email attachment from a sender that's not on your contact list. It contains a virus that corrupts your mainframe.
- One of your employees goes on vacation with a company mobile and answers business emails on an unsecured network. Unbeknownst to them, the open wireless connection has been hacked, and cyber thieves now have access to their login information.
These are three of the most common fumbles employees make. To avoid them, teach your staff about email security best practices, such as proper mobile device use, phishing attempts, and email attachments. Your employees are your business' first and last line of defense.
Use an Email Security Training Tool
Not sure where to start with leading training? Consider an email security training tool. Some include both an initial video training sequence and ongoing testing, latter of which sends fake phishing emails to your employees using data from their inbox. The administrator can monitor employee progress and step in if an employee is repeatedly clicking on these suspicious-looking correspondences.
2. Encourage password best practices
Employees should change their passwords at least every three to six months. They should not be the same as personal passwords and, ideally, should contain a jumbled mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Above all, email passwords (or any passwords, for that matter) should not be written on a Post-it note adjacent to the computer. If your employees would like to keep a record of their passwords, recommend a password manager such as Password Genie. These services save passwords much like a browser would, but keep them under lock and key for heightened security.
3. Use Multi-Factor Password Verification and Email Encryption
If possible, implement a multi-factor password verification process. When employees change their password or log in for the first time in a while, this will send a text or call them to confirm their identity.
You can also look into an email encryption through an email certificate, a software-based encryption technology, or a third-party encryption service.
4. Install an Email Filtering Program and Require Regularly Scheduled Email Purging
Email content filtering is essential. It allows your business to monitor outgoing data and to prevent viruses and other harmful material from reaching your employees' inboxes. It also lets you schedule email archiving and subsequent purging. Perhaps most importantly, email content filtering automates all three tasks and provides your organization with ongoing notifications and alerts regarding its email security.
Following these simple tips can help protect your business from the threats that can occur through email. However, for peace of mind, you can also hire a professional to take a look at your security measures and make sure you really are well protected.