Email may not be a cutting-edge new technology but it remains the primary way that business communicate. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic employees spent around a quarter of their day on emails. Given the shift to remote working that has happened since, this figure is likely to be even higher now. However, email also remains a vulnerability within many businesses and is often the origin of a security breach. While, to a certain extent, this is inevitable given its constant use it may also simply be due to inadequate security, which is something that every organisation can improve.
Tips to improve email security
- Invest in an email security solution. Most people assume that emails are secure and encrypted but the reality is that the underlying email protocol, simple mail transfer protocol (smtp) actually doesn’t integrate this at all. There may be encryption between the mail client (e.g. Outlook) and the email server (e.g Exchange) but that still means that when the email leaves the server it’s clear text that is ripe for attack. Email security solutions can improve this in a number of ways, including enforcing encryption to specific domains.
- View training as a basic requirement. It’s not news that employees often need to be trained – on an ongoing basis – when it comes to the constantly evolving range of threats that may arrive in their inbox. However, all the evidence shows that this does really work. Ensuring that your workforce is able to identify malicious emails, understands threats and knows how to put robust email security in place (e.g. strong passwords) will transform your people into a security asset rather than a vulnerability. This is especially so since working from home has become the norm and people are accessing business networks from home computers that are being increasingly targeted by hackers looking for a way in.
- Link scanning and outbound filtering tools. Some of the most obvious security compromises where email is concerned come from employees clicking on links. Link scanning tools can be used to provide a safety net against those links that could be malicious and which employees may simply not spot or be too curious not to click on. Outbound email filtering can provide another useful safeguard, as it will identify where there might be an accidental data leak or employees who are being specifically targeted and unknowingly complying.
- Algorithmic analysis. While more traditional email security took a pattern-based approach, looking for elements in message content that were suspicious, an algorithmic analysis is more comprehensive. It will instead look at the entirety of an email and weigh up how suspicious each characteristic or attribute might be. Combined with more traditional pattern analysis this can provide a comprehensive approach to email security.
Email security is something that is often overlooked but there can be serious consequences for businesses where this is slack. From simple solutions, such as providing better training, to more comprehensive tech-driven safety nets there are lots of options that any organisation can access to make email security more of a priority.
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