Email is one of the most widely used forms of communication on the planet. In fact, approximately 205 billion emails are sent every day – almost thirty emails for every person.
But despite email’s ubiquity, few small business owners take the time to ensure that their system is up to scratch. Unfortunately, email comes with its own unique set of disadvantages, from the 300 million new pieces of malware each year to the 87% of senior managers who are using personal emails for professional purposes.
If your emails are unsecured, your business could face real world consequences. One high-stakes example is the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails during her presidential bid. But you don’t have to be famous to become a victim – in fact, small businesses are being targeted more and more frequently by hackers and malicious software.
Many small businesses run their own computer systems, but many more work with a third-party. Either way, whether you’re augmenting your own team or whether you’re hiring the services of someone else’s, you’ll find yourself working with an administrator.
An administrator’s role is to ensure the smooth running of your systems, including your emails and any internal servers and software. You’ll want to make sure that your administrator is capable of installing and maintaining dependable security software, such as firewalls and monitoring tools.
How to Stay Secure
Email security can seem low priority to a business owner, but it’s important to take the time to put the work in. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you by gathering five top tips to get you started.
It’s not just external threats that companies have to deal with. In fact, your employees can be your own worst enemy. Many breaches are down to human error, which is typically as a result of either carelessness or ignorance. That’s why you’ll need to provide training and education where appropriate. Ensure employees are familiar with your company’s email policy and put safeguards in place to stop messages from being forwarded to people they’re not intended for. Educate staff on common email scams and basic etiquette and ensure that they report any faults or flaws to your administrator.
Authentication – when users log into their accounts with a username and password – is designed to make email communication more secure. But authentication alone isn’t enough – you’ll also need to ensure that the process is encrypted, scrambling the signal for any malicious software that’s listening in.
Use Digital Signing
Some ‘black hat’ tools allow hackers to spoof email addresses and signatures to mimic employees without having to crack the server. This means that unauthorized people might be posing as legitimate employees and causing damage to your business and brand. Fortunately, you can combat the problem by using digital signing – such as GnuPG and PGP – to provide an additional signal to show that your emails are really coming from who they say they are.
So much new information is created – it’s estimated that 90% of the data in the world has been created in the last two years – that it’s hard to keep tabs on it. Unfortunately, this means that many conventional security features are either overwhelmed or out of date almost as soon as they’re released. You can combat this by running powerful, specialist software and by ensuring that it’s up-to-date at all times. And, to protect your sent emails, you can encrypt attachments to maintain a level of control even after they leave the system.
Back Up Your Data
Of course, it’s impossible to safeguard against absolutely everything, so it’s important to take regular backups of your data in case something goes wrong. That way, even If your server crashes, you’ll still be able to access old emails and to restore data in the case of an emergency. But be sure to solve the problem and to check for viruses and malware before you do it.
The current security landscape is complex and dynamic, and it changes so rapidly that it’s difficult to keep up with it. That’s why you’ll need to work with a specialist, and it’s also why you should make it a priority.
Unfortunately, security breaches are more common today than ever, with over 70% of organizations being compromised by a successful cyberattack in the past twelve months. Taking the time to secure your communications can be expensive, but it’s an investment in the future and could save money in the long term. It’s time for you to carry out an audit.
Alek Manov is responsible for the visual communication and user engagement at EuroVPS. He is passionate researcher of human psychology and always looking for a way to innovate and implement new experiences by challenging the established design patterns. Books lover, explorer by nature and full Law of Attraction practitioner. Twitter: @magneticlab.