It’s not out of the ordinary for employees to not know the best practices surrounding email management, but it’s something that any self-respecting employer needs to consider. How are your employees using their email, and are they putting your organization at risk? The best way to address these issues is taking a two-pronged approach involving training employees on proper best practices, as well as taking technical measures to keep the risk of a breach to a minimum.
We’ll go over some of the most viable options for keeping your email communications as secure as possible, including encryption, spam protection, and employee awareness.
Encryption is extremely important for keeping your data safe from prying eyes. Encryption is easy to understand when it’s explained in terms that aren’t mind-bogglingly complex. Data that’s sent through a connection that isn’t encrypted can be intercepted. When data is sent through an encrypted connection, it’s scrambled so that it can’t be read by those who might steal it while it’s in transit. Only those who hold an encryption key can unscramble it, making it a much more secure method of sending and receiving important data. Some industries, such as healthcare and government organizations, mandate compliance standards that may include encryption to send and receive email.
Employees are almost certain to encounter email hazards like spam messages and phishing attempts, and if they don’t know how to identify these dangerous messages, they could expose your organization to data breaches. This is because hackers can ask employees for various information, such as passwords, usernames, and other credentials that aid them in infiltrating your carefully laid-out defenses. The best way to keep this from happening is to keep spam and phishing messages from hitting the inbox in the first place with spam protection systems.
Phishing attempts are a bit trickier, as they will need to be handled in a careful and calculated manner. Scammers often personalize messages to optimize their odds of the message being opened or an attachment being downloaded. Therefore, you need to consider employee training to properly defend against it.
Conditioning Your Employees for Security
Your network’s security can’t be complete without taking care of the ones actually using the technology. Since your end users are going to be using the organization’s email, it’s only natural that you prepare them for the act of keeping it secure. You can provide your users with a list of best practices for them to keep in mind while going about their duties. They are the following:
- Check the sender: Who has sent the message? Is it a suspicious email address that can’t be traced to any of your contacts? Does it come from a strange email domain? If the answer to any of these is in question, you might have a spam message.
- Identify the intent: Hackers want you to click on their spam messages as quickly as possible. Therefore, they will often try to incite immediate action to prevent you from thinking twice.
- Check the spelling and grammar: Many hackers come from countries where English isn’t the hacker’s first language, making their messages quite identifiable compared to others. If you receive messages filled with these inconsistencies, you can bet they are either unprofessional or likely a hacker.
- Don’t open unrequested attachments: Attachments are a big way for hackers to spread threats, as a lot of people don’t think twice before downloading a supposed receipt or statement. Double-check who sent the attachment before downloading it.
- Don’t click sketchy links: Before clicking on any links in an email, make sure it’s going where you expect it to. You can do this by hovering over the link without clicking on it. If the link goes to a weird URL or an IP address (a string of numbers and periods), it might be a phishing attempt. The destination might look legitimate and ask you to log in, but it will capture your credentials and give access to the bad guys.
Of course, the biggest thing to keep in mind is when in doubt, ask your IT department about the message. For more information on how to keep your organization safe from spam and email threats, reach out to us at 408-927-8700.