Email Security Tips to Prevent Phishing and Malware

    Businesses often take their eye off the ball when it comes to email security, until it’s too late. Be preemptive in your efforts to fight email security breaches by avoiding phishing and malware — two of the most common methods cybercriminals use daily. From large enterprises to small businesses, the threat is real. 

    We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of email security tips to help your business prevent and mitigate security breaches that often come in the form of email phishing and malware attacks.

    Taking Phishing and Malware Seriously

    If you have been thinking you’re immune to email breaches and threats, or you’ve been too busy to worry about it, it may be the perfect time to refocus your cybersecurity efforts in this area. 

    In 2018:

    • The banking/financial industry was hit with 1,707,223 data breaches
    • The business sector had 22,164,590 data breaches
    • The education industry faced 832,115 data breaches
    • The healthcare sector had 5,761,001 data breaches
    • Government/military organizations dealt with approximately 16,766,327 data breaches. 

    These data breach numbers are estimated at the low end as not all breaches are reported or made public; and they continue to trend dramatically upwards

    Here are tips, resources, and best practices to mitigate email security threats.

    Also read: The Best Cybersecurity Tools for Small Businesses

    5 Tips To Prevent Email Security Attacks In Your Business

    1. Never assume employees are doing the right things. It’s a common misstep. To assume that your employees care, have the knowledge, or are keeping up with the latest ever-evolving email security threats, however, is a dangerous oversight. One that can result in significant financial losses for your organization, reputation damage and even a detrimental impact on your business operations that can be problematic to recover from. 
    2. Secure devices (even BYOD). In today’s work from home environment, the importance of having policies related to employee devices has to be comprehensive enough to cover laptops and BYOD work scenarios where employees use their own laptops. While the BYOD may be increasingly popular as workspace options become more flexible and remote, they can leave the business open to a possible compromise of data security. Depending on the employees’ role in the organization, it might even make sense to require that their work be done on an approved, secured device — even if you have to pay for it. If not, be sure to set policies on what the standard for the security settings is, install the necessary security software and work to prevent employees from downloading risky applications. 
    3. Set password parameters for employees. Bad password hygiene is a common reason for email security failure. People tend to set passwords like qwerty, 12345, password, or 12345678 because they are easy to remember, but that also makes them easy to hack. Many people also frequently use the same password across multiple platforms, making it simple for others to gain access to multiple profiles. It’s best to use new, complex passphrases for each profile. To prevent email breaches, clearly integrate safe password practices in the workplace.
    4. Multi-factor authentication is a no-brainer. Setting up a multi-factor authentication process is a simple way to increase your organization’s email security. Employees are most typically not going to do this on their own, it’s in your best interest to take the lead and help them along by stating a clear company policy, training communications, and follow ups. Once you lock down all corporate email accounts with two-factor authentication, ensuring that employees can’t change the settings, you’ll create a strong safeguard against hackers and scammers. 
    5. Education is the key to successful rollout. Many organizations, for a wide variety of reasons, fail to provide formal cybersecurity education to their user base. The majority will lack formal training and understanding of email security and can unintentionally undermine your business’s security postures, all because leadership did not bring the issue and solutions to light. 

    Educate your employees on what the common email security threats are and how to detect them, such as:

    • Subject lines that sound intense
    • Unrecognized addresses in the “from” field
    • Alarming language in the body copy
    • Calls to click on suspicious links
    • Zip files in attachments

    Also read: How to Protect Endpoints While Your Employees Work Remotely

    The easiest way for a hacker to access confidential company data is through clicking suspicious links. Employees should adhere to this basic guideline: If the link is sent from an unknown or suspicious sender, don’t click on it.

    While the most important part of the training program involves educating employees on the dangers of suspicious emails, employees can also feel empowered and protected during a time of cunning and crafty coronavirus-themed scams.

    The fact is that email is one of the top channels where bad actors can wreak havoc on your IT infrastructure, finding ways to bring malicious software to devices. Phishing awareness training and strict adherence to best practices is the foundational way to protect your business from this serious threat. It takes attention across the entire organization, from every department and at all levels, to implement an active security protection protocol. In order to effectively combat phishing attacks, education and constant monitoring is key. 

    Read next: Top Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) 2021

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