Email Security

What is Email Security?

E-mail security involves the various methods used to keep sensitive data on e-mail communication channels and accounts secure against unauthorized use, loss, or compromise. E-mail is a popular way to launch cyber attacks and payloads such as malware, spyware, and worms can easily spread through your network once an e-mail capable device is compromised.

Human error is the biggest security risk a business of any size can have. For a small business especially, it is important that not only is its network properly secured, but its staff is also well educated on the probable cyber security risks they can expose the business to anytime they click, download, or otherwise interact with suspicious links, documents and attachments.

Why is Email Security important for small business?

E-mail is one of, if not the most, popular entry way a cyber attack will exploit to establish a foothold in a business's network. Once a cyber attacker has successfully gained access to a business's network, the attacker can cause irreparable damage such as data corruption & loss, DDoS attacks on critical network devices, and the spread of malicious payloads like viruses and worms.

More likely than not, any small business interacts with confidential data, the breach and/or loss of which carries with it legal ramifications that can potentially ruin the small business. Therefore small businesses should have in place strong e-mail security because cyber attackers often view small businesses as easy targets.

List of best practices

Spam filters

Spam filters stop emails likely to be spam from getting into your employee’s inboxes, reducing their efficiency and putting them at risk of opening a spam email with malicious links or attachments. Enable spam filters and consider creating a whitelist of email addresses and domains that should always be let through if you are concerned about an overactive spam filter.

Strong passwords and multi-factor authentication

Requiring a strong password along with multi-factor authentication means that a user must enter their password as well as another time-sensitive security code to access their email. This dramatically reduces the risk of a hacker getting into an employee’s email and sending emails with malicious links to others, who would see a trustworthy sender. Require employees to enable multi-factor authentication and use a strong password that they change regularly.

Use multiple antivirus engines

Antivirus engines scan your emails for potential viruses and other issues, such as phishing emails. With multiple engines in place, you have additional protection, as one system can catch something that another may not. Choose several highly rated antivirus programs that include coverage of email accounts and do not allow employees to disable the programs.

Train employees

Employee training in regard to security should show them what types of scams and warning signs to look out for. Teach them about phishing emails and various malicious emails. Ensure employees know how to recognize a phishing email and how to check the sender of an email. Also, never allow them to click a link or attachment unless it makes sense and is from a trusted sender. Your employees should also know how to report a suspicious email.

Email backups

Email backups act just like other backups, providing an additional copy of emails if a disaster or network failure occurs. If your software does not already include email backups, add a feature that will do so. These can be either backups to the cloud or to a physical disc. The backups should include both the content and your contact list.

Check for confidential content

Before sending any confidential content in email, you should take the time to consider whether it is necessary and confirm everything in the document. Otherwise, you may accidentally put sensitive information into the hands of cyber-criminals. Only send secure data via email when absolutely necessary, and ensure that anyone who does send this type of confidential content confirms they have the correct email address.

Create email requirements on attachments

There is a range of email requirements you can make that involve attachments. Attachments can cause unnecessary network congestion, and frequent attachments make it easier for a cybercriminal to send an attachment in the hopes that someone opens it. Consider limiting the size of email attachments or their frequency except in specific situations to minimize network congestion. Preventing large files can also reduce the risk of opening malware, as those programs can sometimes be quite large.

Block emails with excessive recipients

Consider blocking emails that are sent to excessive recipients, such as more than 15 people. Sending an email to this many recipients can unintentionally expose valuable data or contact information, even if it just a set of email addresses. Instead, require that any email sent to a large number of recipients is done via a mailing list, such as those used for department-wide or company-wide announcements, and disable the reply all function on those emails.

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