Why Do Organizations Need an Email Security Policy?
Steps to Build an Effective Email Security Policy.
Despite the rise and increasing popularity of instant messaging and collaboration tools, email still plays a significant and necessary role in the majority of organizations. It offers a quick way to get in touch with employees, clients, partners, and suppliers. It is undeniably the most effective and economical method for usual inter-/intra-organizational communication worldwide.
For all of its advantages, unless your email system is properly secured and managed, it poses significant security risks that can be devastating to your company. Threat actors continue to target email with numerous phishing and ransomware operations in an effort to obtain or corrupt information for espionage or extortion purposes, making email security policy a top priority for IT security staff.
And as such, it is essential to protect such a vital business tool as email with a carefully thought-out email security policy. In this article, I invite you to look more closely at what an email security policy is intended to do, what it should include, and how to develop and implement one in your organization.
To Define It…
An email security policy is a formal company document that details acceptable email system usage in within an organization. It specifies to whom and from whom emails can be sent or received, as well as what content is acceptable when it comes to work emails.
Why Do Companies Need an Email Security Policy?
First of all, an email security policy should be viewed as a significant risk prevention measure by all organizations. Some of the reasons why your company needs an email security policy are:
To protect the enterprise from liabilities
When all staff members read and sign an email policy, it shows that they are informed and concur with the information included in the policy. If someone in your company sends an email that is considered inappropriate in accordance with the email policy, the employee who sent it will be held primarily responsible for any damages or lawsuits caused by the sending of the email.
To foster a professional environment
If email is used only for work-related purposes, you can relax because unpleasant situations are unlikely not happen. However, if your employees use work email to communicate with friends or family, the content in those emails is probably not suitable to be shared at work. The company’s reputation could suffer if such emails are accidentally sent to customers or business partners. If you have an email policy in place that prohibits personal use of the company email system, your employees will maintain a professional attitude and eliminate the likelihood that personal emails will be sent to clients.
To boost productivity
Email can be a distraction for staff members who use it for purposes that are not related to work. If your email policy doesn’t allow employees to use email for personal reasons, they will be more focused and avoid the interruptions that come with sending and receiving personal email messages while at work.
To establish systems for email
If the email policy describes the suitable content for emails sent during working time via the company email system, it can also aid in the establishment of systems to ensure that all employees play a part in the company’s brand or image. Establishing rules for content and email usage creates a unified, comprehensive perception of the company, which aids in keeping the organization aligned with its mission.
What Should an Email Security Policy Include?
An email security policy should be structured in such a way that it is informative, clear, and provide enough details to ensure that employees (both tech-savvy and not) comprehend its purpose, their responsibilities as users, and who to contact if they have questions or concerns.
It should also include:
- A statement that all communications in the corporate email system are legally owned by the company;
- Certain content that will never be permitted or overlooked in business email communications, including offensive language, racist remarks, cyberbullying, disclosure of private data, passwords, and other login credentials;
- The company’s expectations when it comes to acceptable and unacceptable email system usage. In other words, how staff members can and cannot use the organization’s email;
- Clarification of what staff members are responsible for, including knowledge gained during cybersecurity awareness training, such as being aware of emails that may be phishing attempts;
- Details on how and how frequently email security policies will be updated;
- Who to contact if they have any questions regarding email security and how to recognize and report suspicious or offensive email messages;
- Content that provides information on email security, including possible threats like viruses, malware, phishing, etc., and actions that increase the risk of data loss or theft for businesses;
- Specific consequences for not adhering to the guidelines provided in the email security policy.
How to Create an Effective Email Security Policy
Every company is different, but email security policies should be the same everywhere. Why? Because no matter the enterprise’s size, industry, or level of experience, the technologies being used and the risks that go along with them are similar. Nevertheless, the way a policy is written varies depending on the audience for whom it is written. The steps listed below can help you develop a proper email security policy.
Begin with a security policy template that already exists
Fortunately, this is not a situation where organizations have to start completely from scratch. They can use one of many available templates. The SANS Institute, for example, provides templates for email policy and email retention policy.
Make customized changes to the template
Having a good understanding of business culture, size, and maturity level, organizations can build on these existing templates and adjust them to suit the requirements of the company while modifying the messaging to have a strong end-user effect.
Make sure that email security tools and setups adhere to the policy guidelines
Spam filters, sandboxes, antivirus/malware protection software, and encryption are just a few of the many email security technologies that can be integrated to help safeguard users from cyber threats. It is recommended that these tools be implemented in accordance with written policy.
Come up with a plan for user policy agreement
Policies should encompass a method to guarantee that personnel has read and agreed to the email policy usage rules. In most cases, this takes the form of a mandatory signature at the end of the policy.
Create training programs and incident response protocols
There should be procedures in place to help impose appropriate email usage and to enable quick responses to user inquiries or incidents.
Because email is used by most organizations, threat actors frequently use it to compromise systems and network resources. Since humans are the weakest link in the security chain, they must be cautioned. It is advised that businesses everywhere implement a security policy that enforces the best email security and cybersecurity standards. This significantly contributes to business safety, phishing or ransomware attack prevention, and employee compliance.