Email remains the most used form of communication within businesses worldwide, with many organizations depending on the medium entirely for internal and external communication. However, this reliance on email also makes it a target for cyber security attacks, with threats to data and privacy a daily issue.
Building and maintaining secure email services, both in the office and at home, is vital to ensure that personal and professional data does not fall into the wrong hands. In fact, by improving email security and maintaining privacy, businesses can also maintain legal compliance and avoid the costly repercussions of a data breach.
Here are five tips for building more secure email services both at home and within any organization.
Develop Good Email Management Habits
There are a thousand ways to deal with emails. Whether using an Inbox Zero approach or something else, individuals that develop good email management habits can more easily identify threats. For example, simply allowing unread emails to build up creates confusion, easily leading to opening, replying, or downloading harmful content.
Companies that encourage staff to take control of their email accounts also benefit from this approach. Automatic spam filters or protocols that deal with non-work-related emails can help employees stay on top of the constant barrage of superfluous mail.
Don’t Mix Personal and Professional Accounts
Similarly, separating personal and private email accounts and never mixing the two can help maintain email privacy for companies and employees alike. Whether that’s disparaging remarks about the boss sent to the wrong work contact or sensitive customer data accidentally forwarded to a friend, maintaining a separation between these two accounts is a simple yet effective way to maintain data privacy and avoid costly mistakes.
Always Be Aware of Attachments
Attachments are frequently cited as one of the most common ways hackers gain access to sensitive data, employing a variety of sophisticated phishing, ransomware, zero-day, and keylogging exploits.
Many people will already be wary of opening suspicious attachments; however, as cybersecurity threats evolve, it is always important to consider the potential danger twice and open once! Additionally, always be careful when sending sensitive data in an attachment as well, as in many cases, this can be accessed by a third party unless adequately encrypted.
Use Encryption for the Most Sensitive Data
Email encryption is among the safest ways to send sensitive data across the internet, effectively making your emails illegible to hackers and other third parties. However, it does come with a cost and can sometimes be too complicated for the average user, often requiring both a public and private key in the case of PGP email encryption, which is among the safest methods.
This means that while email encryption can be useful for highly sensitive data and documents, it should not be used for every email. Businesses should carefully weigh up and create protocols for email encryption to ensure staff always use these tools correctly.
Make Use of Inbuilt Email Security Services and Tools
Today, many email providers offer secure email services using inbuilt tools. In some cases, this can include encryption tools and other privacy utilities that help keep outgoing mails safe. However, ensuring others cannot access a user’s inbox should also be a priority.
Two-factor authentication is growing in popularity, replacing potentially weak passwords and other login systems. This ensures only the user can access the data and information contained within an email inbox, usually pairing a password with a physical device such as the user’s smartphone to maintain security.
Naturally, there are many other ways to maintain email privacy and ensure data security both at home and in the office. However, always staying up to date with the latest threats and technologies remains important and practicing a degree of common sense always helps.
Name: Michael Bertini
Job Title: Consultant
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