Email Security: Why it’s Still Important in the Social Media Age
Cybercriminals often make email servers their primary target when attempting to break through an organization’s cybersecurity systems. Even email marketing campaigns aren’t safe from security threats.
An email is a reliable form of communication for both business and personal use, and one undeniable proof of this reliability is its continued existence despite the emergence of new and more advanced communication platforms and the heavy reliance on social media networks.
The “death of email” has been predicted by tech people for years, but the pandemic has shown that email is still a lucrative marketing channel and has since become a preferred touchpoint between brands and consumers.
Email security remains the main focus for businesses despite the accessibility of multiple digital channels to communicate with customers. Because it’s one of the main means of communication for businesses, it’s also a common target of cyberattacks like phishing emails and man-in-the-middle attacks.
The spread of malware and ransomware can also be attributed to email scams that have been rampant for years. In 2021 alone, over 300 billion emails were sent and received around the world, making the case for email security even in this day and age.
Email Security Tips for Your Business
Email remains a preferred mode of communication for businesses because it’s more formal than social media messaging and chat but more personal than project management systems. It’s used to disseminate information, even sensitive ones, to a large group of recipients quickly and efficiently.
Because of this, cybercriminals often make email servers their primary target when attempting to break through an organization’s cybersecurity systems. Even email marketing campaigns aren’t safe from security threats.
Below are a few email security tips you should keep on your cybersecurity priority list.
Strictly Enforce Password Requirements
Weak passwords are a common dilemma in both personal and business email accounts. Often, email account holders don’t think about their passwords and use words or phrases that are easily guessed via brute force attacks.
To protect accounts from being hijacked, minimum password requirements like minimum password length, use of numbers and special characters, and changing them periodically should be enforced.
Organize Email and Cybersecurity Training Programs
The only way to protect your email servers is through the education of its users; in an enterprise, educating your employees about the potential risk of cyberattacks via email scams is vital in its prevention.
CIOs and IT professionals understand the value of sensitive data and the losses that can be incurred if these are compromised, but this understanding should be shared by employees and everyone in the organization. Cyberattacks rely largely on human error and negligence, and educating your employees will make them your first line of defense.
Use Email Security and Antivirus Software
There are software solutions that are specifically designed to check emails and attachments and determine whether or not they’re part of a phishing scam. Said software can flag email messages containing suspicious content to help users avoid being victims of phishing emails and other email scams.
Antivirus and anti-malware software also help in this regard. These solutions aren’t 100% foolproof, but they help alert users to potentially harmful email content.
Identify Security Weaknesses and Address Them
Regardless of business size and security measures in place, every business organization will have a weak spot that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Being aware of these weaknesses and taking specific actions to address them will help improve the overall security of an organization’s systems.
Employees should also be made aware of these security weaknesses and the potential damage they can cause. Knowing the risks will help everyone in the organization understand the value of email security and encourage them to protect the integrity of email server systems as best they can.
Prepare for the Worst-Case Scenario
While it’s always best to keep email security breaches and cyberattacks from happening, things won’t always go to plan. As such, it’s best to have a contingency plan in case your security systems are compromised.
Your organization should have a clear protocol on how to respond to potential threats, minimizing potential damage as much as possible. Business-critical files should also be backed up frequently because some ransomware attacks are designed to target file backups.
If at all possible, set up periodic automatic backups and have multiple copies in several locations. You can also isolate backups so they are protected in case the system is infected with malware. Don’t forget to test backups regularly by doing a restoration exercise to identify issues and address them immediately.
Email Security Post-Pandemic
The drastic shift in the business landscape and the general working environment has highlighted old vulnerabilities and created new ones as most businesses move from an on-premise to a remote or hybrid working arrangement.
Companies were not prepared for the sudden shift and had difficulties in managing a remote workforce, with some having no experience in managing one before at all.
A remote or hybrid workforce means an increased reliance on email and other forms of online communication. Cybercriminals have stepped up their game to make the most of the situation, seeking to exploit improperly set up online applications, non-secure connections and email configurations, and uninformed employees.
Due to the new normal, email security is again at the forefront. With its versatility and simplicity, it has become a double-edged sword; making information dissemination quick and easy but also opening up a vulnerability for the spread of malware if not properly integrated into an organization’s overall IT security systems.