One of the more unfortunate trends that have been taking shape in recent years is the increasing prevalence of cyber attacks. As businesses have become more reliant on digital platforms, hackers and other malicious actors have been quick to take advantage of any weakness they can find in a company’s system.
Whether it be phishing, ransomware, and SQL injection, it’s clear that cybercriminals will continue to find ways to exploit even the slightest vulnerability. In light of this, it’s important for businesses—particularly those that rely on email as an integral part of their operations—to take the necessary steps to mitigate this threat.
Why email is the primary target of cybercriminals
Email is one of the most common ways for businesses to communicate with customers, partners, and other stakeholders. As such, malicious actors view it as a prime target for cyber attacks.
Given the amount of sensitive information that can be stored in emails, ranging from financial data to trade secrets, criminals can use such information for their own gain.
According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach rose to $4.35 million in 2022 – a 2.6% increase from the previous year.
With this in mind, it’s crucial for businesses to take the necessary steps to protect their email systems from potential cyber threats. Here are five email best practices your business should follow:
Implement two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security measure that requires users to provide two pieces of evidence in order to gain access. This could be something as simple as a one-time code sent to the user’s mobile phone, or a biometric scan such as face or fingerprint recognition.
Google conducted a study on the effectiveness of 2FA in the prevention of account takeover attempts and found that even the most basic form of 2FA, such as SMS-based authentication, successfully blocked 100% of automated bots and 96% of bulk phishing attempts, and 76% of targeted attacks.
By adding this extra layer of security, businesses can ensure that only authorized users are able to access their emails and any other sensitive data that may be stored in the system.
Choose your email service provider wisely
When it comes to email systems, not all providers are created equal. While some may offer more features, others might have better security protocols in place.
It’s important to do your due diligence and compare the different email service providers available, so you can assess which one is best suited for your business. Look into the various features each provider offers, such as spam filtering and antivirus protection, as well as their policies on data storage and encryption.
There are plenty of free secure email providers available, such as ProtonMail and Tutanota, which offer enhanced security features to protect your emails from potential cyber threats and are well worth considering.
Train employees on the risks of cyber attacks
Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, not just the IT department. As such, it’s important for businesses to invest in educating their employees on the various types of cyber threats and how best to protect themselves. After all, it only takes one click of a malicious link to cause serious damage.
Furthermore, businesses should consider creating an internal security policy that outlines the appropriate security procedures that employees should follow when accessing their emails. This can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and taking the necessary steps to protect the business from potential cyber threats.
Regularly back up your emails
Backing up your emails is essential in case of a potential attack or data loss. Most email service providers offer an automated backup feature, so you can easily schedule regular backups of your emails. However, if your provider doesn’t offer this feature, you may need to look into third-party backup solutions.
As ransomware becomes increasingly common, having a reliable backup system in place can be a lifesaver. If your emails are encrypted or deleted by a malicious actor, you can use the backup to quickly restore all of your data, thus minimizing the financial and reputational damage caused.
Review your permissions settings for all accounts
It’s important to regularly review the permissions settings of all email accounts in order to ensure that only authorized users are able to access them. This can help prevent potential breaches and data theft, as well as protect the business from phishing scams.
Not only should you review the permissions settings of your own accounts, but also those of any third-party services that may be integrated with your emails, such as cloud storage services or social media accounts. Make sure to check for any suspicious activity that may be occurring on these third-party services, as this can be an indication of a potential breach.
By following the above steps, you can significantly improve the security of your emails and reduce your risk of cyber threats. However, it’s important to remember that cyber threats are constantly evolving, so it’s essential to remain vigilant and keep up with the latest security trends in order to protect your business.
Regularly review your security protocols, update your software and hardware regularly, and invest in cybersecurity training for your employees. Doing so will help ensure that your emails are secured to the highest degree possible.