Email Protection 101: What You Need to Know About Secure Communication
Email Protection is a Cornerstone of Enterprise Cybersecurity. Here’s Why and How You Can Apply It Successfully.
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Communication is indispensable to the proper functioning of a company. In today’s corporate landscape, digital messaging between employees, C-level execs, and the likes has become an essential component of the average workday. For this reason, achieving secure communication should be your top priority. This is where email protection comes in.
In the following lines, I will explain what email protection is and what areas covers before diving into why it’s so important. If you want to find out how to implement it into your enterprise’s IT infrastructure, then keep reading.
What is Email Protection?
The term email protection is a broad one consisting of multiple techniques and procedures. It includes traditional approaches such as login security and email encryption, as well as advanced concepts like spam filtering and fraud prevention. In addition to this, cybersecurity education plays a huge role in the larger picture of email protection.
What all these areas of email protection have in common is their purpose, which is to secure all the incoming and outgoing electronic communications within a company. To better understand how this is achieved, let’s have a more detailed look at each process.
Main Areas of Email Protection
a. Login Security
The traditional email protection layer of login security mainly deals with strong credentials. Electronic communications should always be protected by robust passwords that consist of alphanumeric characters and cannot be guessed randomly. Another aspect to consider here is that of password cycling, as opposed to password recycling. This means that, besides changing passwords on the regular, your employees should always choose ones that have never been used before.
b. Spam Filtering
Email protection heavily relies on spam filtering, which is an efficient way to keep phishing schemes out of your company inbox. By scanning the contents of messages, this feature ascertains whether their contents are suspicious or not. Then, it quarantines malicious communications accordingly. Most email services nowadays have a basic version of this feature built-in already, but you can always enhance it with additional software.
c. Fraud Prevention
Did you know that hackers make use of social engineering for more than the distribution of malicious links? Some will go as far as pretend they are a figure of authority in the company or a trusted third party that often collaborates with the organization. Fraud prevention is an advanced email protection barrier that uses machine learning to detect when someone is impersonating the sender of an email.
d. Email Encryption
Email encryption is a standard cybersecurity concept that entails assigning each user both a public and private key. This will create end-to-end encryption, which means that every message that is sent will become a jumbled version of itself that only the people involved in the communication can decipher. Popular email services such as Gmail or Outlook allow users to enable this feature, which is why I recommend looking into it for your enterprise if you haven’t done so already.
e. Cybersecurity Education
Knowledgeable employees are a valuable line of defense against cyberattacks delivered via email. For this reason, you must ensure that your staff is properly trained on the best practices pertaining to the handling and sharing of sensitive data. In addition to this, they should also be educated on the most common types of cyberattacks so that they can recognize a phishing or fraud attempt when they see it.
Why Email Protection is Important
In today’s digital world, email protection is a must for any company’s cybersecurity infrastructure. But why? Below, I have detailed the five key reasons why you need to consider it for your enterprise and illustrated each point with relevant statistics.
#1 Phishing Emails Are Still a Widespread Threat
On the authority of the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, one-quarter of the year’s data breaches were caused by phishing emails. Social engineering is one of the most common ways cyber attackers deliver malware, which they will use to steal data or cause other types of network damage and downtime.
#2 Cybercriminals Have a Lot to Gain from Email Attacks
The aforementioned Verizon report uncovered that 60% of hackers using social engineering-based phishing tactics are looking for login credentials that they can then sell or exploit for their gain. In correlation, 50% of them are also after personally identifiable information (PII). As you may already know by now, PII is a goldmine for cybercriminals, and they can use it against your company in a multitude of nefarious ways.
#3 Social Engineering Tactics Become Increasingly Clever
Unfortunately, people still fall for clever social engineering nowadays. A study published in 2018 in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies consisted of sending phishing emails to a total of 62,000 corporate user accounts over six weeks. Results have shown that the more authority and urgency a message instill, the more likely is an employee to comply with its request without verifying its authenticity first. Consequently, 24,758 users clicked on the potentially malicious links.
#4 The Coronavirus Pandemic Facilitates Attacks
To add insult to injury, the number of phishing attacks on organizations did nothing but increase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics released by NetSTAR have shown that incidents rose by as much as 600% in certain industries where employees were more likely to fall prey to Coronavirus-related scams.
#5 Employees Sometimes Share Too Much Data
Phishing scheme or no phishing scheme, staff members are prone to unwittingly sharing confidential data, especially when they haven’t received any proper cybersecurity education beforehand. Don’t believe me? In 2017, a Boeing employee sent a working spreadsheet to his wife so that she could use it as a template. That spreadsheet contained the PII of 36,000 company employees, including birth dates and SSNs.
Final Thoughts on Email Protection
If you want to implement email protection for your business, my recommendation is to have a look at the five main areas of the topic that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Implement a companywide password security policy and make sure your employees are up to date with it, as well as well-informed on this matter in general. In addition to this, make sure that the end-to-end encryption and spam filter features are enabled for the email service your company uses.
Heimdal™ Email Fraud Prevention
You can take this one step further with the proper cybersecurity tools. Our Heimdal™ Email Security is an innovative spam filter solution that adds an advanced layer of analysis to your platform’s pre-existing screening. Due to this, it also acts as a malware protection system that enhances your digital defenses.
To protect your channels of communication from more advanced social engineering attempts, you will also need Heimdal™ Email Fraud Prevention. A groundbreaking email protection system, it alerts you of any business email compromise, CEO fraud, and impersonation attempts. Driven by machine learning, it will always know when a potential attack is afoot.
What are your thoughts on email protection? Do you practice it within your company? Let me know in the comments below!