The 5 Most Important Email Security Best Practices for Businesses
Email is one of the most widely used communication mediums all over the globe, especially for businesses. Unfortunately, malware attacks against businesses are sharply on the rise. It has been reported that 94% of malware is delivered via email. To make matters worse, attackers can trivially spoof domains (not to mention impersonate other people), which makes stopping email-based attacks exceedingly difficult.
Fortunately, by following email security best practices business organizations can reduce the chances of a successful cyberattack. Here are the five most important of these email security best practices.
One of the best ways to halt phishing emails and malware threats before they can reach employee email accounts, is by utilizing email filtering tools such as email gateways. Email gateways are the first layer of defense between the outside world and inboxes. These tools can be installed on premises, in the cloud, or a combination of both. All emails will be checked on arrival, so that spam, graymail, phishing attempts and spoof emails can be filtered out.
Another advantage of email filtering technology is that businesses can have better insight into the kinds of threats that are blocked. Full threat reporting is usually included with a good email gateway solution. Regardless of the size of a company email filtering should always be deployed for maximum security.
In addition to protecting users against threats that arrive via email, it is also important to protect the contents of emails sent by users. Email Encryption ensures that an email message and any associated data is only accessible by the intended recipient. Even if an email is stolen by an unauthorized party, the contents cannot be decrypted and read. Only the intended recipient, possessing the correct public and private keys, can decrypt the message.
Some email encryption solutions offer additional security functionality as well: sending self-destructing messages, revoking access to emails sent to the wrong person, and viewing when messages have been opened and read. Email encryption can thwart even advanced malware attacks that attempt to read sensitive information from email contents. In fact, messages sent through a compromised email provider cannot be read by unauthorized users if the message is encrypted.
Although some older email encryption schemes were troublesome to use and encouraged employees to avoid sending email altogether, modern email encryption platforms are easy-to-use and offer strong protection against a variety of threats.
User Security Training and Testing
While there are many technologies which protect against email attacks, every user, regardless of role or security level, should be trained to identify an attack and know the steps to take if one is discovered.
In addition to training, it is advised that businesses perform frequent simulated phishing tests. These tests allow admins to gauge whether users can spot malicious emails, and determine which users need more training.
Password Security Policies
In a phishing attack, attackers are usually trying to get user credentials. A phishing email might request the user to change their password or log into a fake website, to scrape account access information. It is not always easy for users to identify fraudulent emails, even if they are well trained and frequently tested. Therefore, developing strong password management policies is an especially important best practice. These policies can be implemented by using a business password management solution.
With password management solutions, users can tell that they have clicked on a malicious login page if their password manager does not suggest the correct password. Additionally, password managers can generate long, complex, and unique passwords for every account, making account compromise much more difficult. With a company-wide business password management system, users will no longer need to memorize passwords or write them down on paper.
Even with sufficient training and strong email defense solutions, it is still possible for malware attacks to go undetected. Therefore, it is also advisable to deploy an endpoint protection solution within the organization’s network.
Endpoint protection software offers a centralized view of the security status of every endpoint device (like laptops and sometimes even smartphones) on the corporate network. Web links and files present in emails are automatically scanned for viruses, ransomware, and phishing attacks, adding a third layer of email defense (behind the email gateway and post-delivery email security). In addition to built-in antivirus software for detecting malware of all kinds, endpoint security solutions also allow IT professionals to monitor devices for suspicious activity from an easy-to-use centralized management dashboard.
Endpoint detection and response (EDR) takes the concepts of endpoint security even further, with advanced analytics and artificial intelligence using historical data about endpoint machine usage. Although EDR may be overkill for some small companies, the technology is quickly becoming more accessible and useful to business organizations regardless of size.
Make Email Security a Priority
Email is not only the primary mode of communication for most businesses around the world, it is also the most popular entry point for cyberattacks involving malware. Consequently, following the email security best practices mentioned above should be a high priority for businesses of all sizes.
Outsource IT has years of experience helping businesses protect their important data and resources against cyberattacks, including phishing and malware attacks involving email. Contact your Outsource IT account manager to learn more about these services.