WorldExecutivesDigest.com | 6 Ways to Keep Your Business Email Secure | Today, incorporating information technology into your operations is vital for success in business. Whether you’re running a traditional brick-and-mortar store or venturing into an online business, IT services can help ensure a favorable position in the market for your company.
One of the most important IT services you would need is email hosting. Besides giving you a branded email address, it also lends a higher level of credibility to your firm. On top of that, email hosting is scalable and can grow simultaneously with your website.
But apart from that, the most important advantage of having a professional business email is security.
Although email may seem like an “ancient technology” when compared with newer team information-sharing tools, it remains the primary means of communication for most small businesses and startups today. The key is to find ways to overcome its technical limitations that might make your business susceptible to cyber threats.
Fortunately, the best business email service providers have developed ways to keep your correspondence and critical information secure, some of which are listed below.
Get Your Email Encrypted
Email encryption helps keep your personal information protected against hackers and breaches by purposely limiting access to your business emails to only a few people.
How does it work? Basically, encryption is a method used in IT to obscure data. Websites with URLs that begin with “https” use a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to keep the data sent from your PC secure as it travels to the website server. With SSL, everything your computer sends and receives to the SSL-enabled server is protected with encryption.
Websites with SSL prevent cybercriminals from “tapping the line” to acquire passwords and other information filled out in forms. This is also what happens in email encryption.
When you send an email to an encrypted network, the plain text content is scrambled to make it impossible to read without an encryption key, which functions much like a password. If you implement end-to-end encryption, your email account and everything in it is virtually uncrackable.
Only after the encryption key is received will the email de-scramble the encrypted content.
Create a Logical and Practical Email Retention Policy
Besides encryption, you can also keep your email secure by implementing a strict email retention policy.
Ask employees to get rid of emails that are not necessary for business operations. You can also implement a standard schedule and protocol for archiving and permanently removing old emails within a specific period.
To make this work, send out reminders regularly as remembering to delete emails can be a bit difficult for people who haven’t developed a habit of doing so.
Implement a Two-Factor Authentication
Another way you can keep your business emails safe and secure is through two-factor authentication. This extra layer of security makes hacking more difficult, even after your password has been compromised.
As the name implies, two-factor authentication requires two things:
- Information that only you would know, like a password or username
- An item that you have, like a backup key or mobile phone
Considering how clever hackers have become over the years, it makes sense to avoid relying on your password alone.
Have I Been Pwned, a page that helps people check whether their personal data and passwords have been leaked, has more than 320 million passwords on file. This proves that passwords are easily and routinely hacked.
Of course, the likelihood of both your password and mobile device both being compromised at the same time is significantly lower compared to just the former.
There are plenty of ways to implement two-factor authentication, but the easiest and most common one is through the use of a one-time token. This can come in the form of a password or PIN sent to your mobile device to verify if you are indeed the one making the transaction on an online account, such as email.
Since this can only be used once, there is a much lower chance of critical information being leaked from your email. It also makes it easier to recover your account should you lose access by accidentally forgetting your password or due to a hacker changing it.
Choosing Strong Passwords
While this may seem old-school, making strong passwords is still crucial, given the current level of technology most small businesses and startups have access to today.
No matter how secure encryption maybe, if a strong password is not in place, then the risk of breach will still be high.
To make sure that this doesn’t happen, remind all employees about the correct way of formulating hard-to-crack passcodes. Strong passwords contain at least 12 characters and consist of a combination of numbers, symbols, and upper- and lower-case letters. It also shouldn’t be something obvious, like an employee’s birthday.
Plus, it is crucial that these passwords are changed every three months or so. It is also vital that employees avoid using the same passwords for several websites or accounts.
You can also recommend password management tools that can help them keep codes, email accounts, bank accounts, PINs, and other account information secure without the risk of forgetting them.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to a handful of executives – all employees must create strong passwords.
Avoid Security Pitfalls
Besides knowing what to do, it is also vital that you know what to avoid doing to prevent your company email from being compromised.
First, all computers used in the company should have email encryption, and not just a few. Unless the same standard is applied to all, the effort and cost of encrypting emails would only be a waste.
Second, computers that have been unlocked should never be left unattended. Before leaving their stations, employees should ensure that the computers are locked and secure. This also means that the PCs should be password-protected at log in.
Conduct IT Security Training for All Employees
Besides dealing with the computers and servers, you also need to make sure that your employees are well-versed in IT security through training. Such activities will empower your employees with the right knowledge and behavior in email security.
Here are some of the rules you should teach your employees:
- Avoid opening attachments or links from unknown senders
- Do not respond to emails requesting password changes and divulging personal information, regardless of how official they may appear
- Keep anti-spy and antivirus software updated on their assigned computers
- Encrypt emails that contain sensitive data prior to sending
- Avoid the use of the company email address for personal emails
- Do not forward company emails automatically to a third-party email system
Secure Your Email to Secure Your Business
Business emails play a critical role in branding, reputation, and business security. Heed the advice compiled in this article to ensure that your email and business remain secure.
Sharon Mallorca is the Sales Manager at Create IT in Dubai. Established by innovative digital agency Create Media Group, Create IT has rapidly become the Middle East’s leading IT Support and IT Solutions company, providing the highest quality IT support and services to a growing portfolio of global brands.