When it comes to cybercrime and big data breaches, small businesses are, unfortunately, an easy target.
There are a lot of factors that go into this, from a lack of awareness about cybersecurity to limited resources. Whatever the case may be, small businesses are vulnerable to attacks that can compromise your business’s most sensitive information.
This can tarnish your reputation and lead to major financial losses. It’s estimated that the average loss per cyberattack on a small business is more than $188,000 on average.
To prevent these attacks, it’s important for small businesses to take appropriate steps to protect their personal data. In most cases, that starts with email.
In this post, we’ll discuss why secure email is crucial for small business cybersecurity – and what steps you can take to make sure your information (and your business) stays protected.
Why is Email Security Important in Cyber Security?
There are a few reasons why email security is important for small businesses. Data breaches can have serious consequences, including identity theft, financial loss, and reputational damage.
Email is a common point of entry for hackers to gain access to sensitive data. By intercepting emails, cybercriminals can gain access to personal and confidential information.
Unfortunately, phishing has become a common tactic that cybercriminals use to steal sensitive information. Phishing involves tricking individuals into clicking on a link or downloading an attachment that contains malware or leads them to a fake login page designed to steal their credentials.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to this type of attack, and securing email communication can help safeguard against such attacks.
Secure email solutions include features like spam filters, sender authentication, and advanced threat protection, making it difficult for hackers to breach the system.
Small businesses are also subject to various regulations and standards around data protection, and email security is an important aspect of compliance.
Laws like HIPAA, GDPR, and the CCPA require businesses to take appropriate measures to protect sensitive customer information.
Failing to do so can result in significant consequences, including legal action, which can be devastating for small businesses.
Secure email solutions help businesses adhere to these regulations by providing features like data loss prevention, email archiving, and secure emailing.
Small businesses are not only vulnerable to external threats but also internal ones. Employees can accidentally or intentionally compromise business information, posing a significant threat to data security.
Finally, it’s no secret that small businesses depend heavily on their reputation, and an email data breach can have devastating effects on their image.
Customers expect that their data is safeguarded, and failure to do so can lead to mistrust and loss of business. In some cases, a lack of security and functionality can also violate privacy laws.
In an era where news of data breaches spreads quickly, it is so important that small businesses take proactive measures to protect their customers’ data.
Secure email is one such measure that can ensure that trust is maintained – and that the reputation of the business is not compromised.
What Makes an Email “Secure”?
Before we dive into the nitty gritty of how to secure your email, let’s talk for a minute about what actually makes an email “secure.”
Technically, there’s really no such thing – you can’t be oversecure. If you think your email is protected from cyber criminals, you may want to take a closer look – there’s almost always more that can be done!
That’s true regardless of the email service provider you’re using (Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail, etc) or how you’re accessing it (via a mobile device, desktop, etc).
Here are five key elements that go into creating an email that is secure. How do you stack up?
After having you read this section and seeing where you stand, we’ll tell you a bit more about how to make sure each of these areas is buttoned up.
Encryption is one of the most important aspects of email security. Encryption is a process in which the contents of an email are scrambled or coded in a way that makes it difficult for an unauthorized user to read the content.
Encrypted emails can only be read by those who have the encryption key, making it difficult for hackers to steal any sensitive data.
A secure email will also use reputable encryption protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which ensures that the data is secure and readable only by the intended recipient.
2. Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is another important feature to consider when securing email communication.
It’s a process in which a user is required to enter a second-factor authentication, such as a random code or a biometric verification, in addition to the username and password.
This adds an additional layer of security, making it difficult for hackers to gain access to your account even if they have your password.
3. Spam Filters
Spam emails are a common way for hackers to gain access to your computer through malicious links or attachments.
Spam filters are used to block unsolicited messages and to ensure that only legitimate emails reach your inbox. Most email providers equip their emails with spam filters to prevent spam from reaching your inbox.
4. Email Security Policies
Email security policies are a set of guidelines used to govern the use of emails within an organization or small business.
This could include password policy, the use of encryption technologies, and measures to prevent data leakage. These security policies help ensure that email communication is secure and that the organization’s sensitive information remains protected.
5. Regular Updates and Patches
Email security is not a one-and-done task – it is something that requires constant updates and patching. Each update typically fixes security vulnerabilities that have been discovered, making your email account more secure.
How Do I Create a Secure Email?
Creating a secure email is not that complicated, but it takes a few essential steps to ensure maximum protection.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Use and Enforce Strong Passwords
The best (and easiest) way to secure your email is by using strong passwords. This sounds like pretty boring, generic advice, but the reality is that 52% of people reuse their passwords for different accounts, making themselves vulnerable to being preyed on by cybercriminals.
Avoid simple or common passwords such as “password123” or “abc1234,” as these are easy to guess. Instead, use a combination of upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers to create a robust password.
Make sure that your password is at least eight characters long, and to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Consider using a password manager to create and store your passwords securely.
2. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an extra layer of security that involves a combination of two or more of the following authentication factors: something you know (password), something you have (mobile device), and something you are (fingerprint).
By enabling MFA, even if someone knows your password, they won’t be able to access your email without the additional authentication factor. Most email providers offer MFA as an option, so make sure you enable it.
3. Train Your Employees in Email Best Practices
Your employees are your first line of defense against email attacks. If they don’t know the best email practices, your business is at risk.
Train them on how to identify suspicious emails, how to use strong passwords, and how to enable two-factor authentication.
Educate them, too, on how to avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. Your employees should not use their work email for personal use, either. That’s what private email is for!
4. Use End-to-End Encryption
Email encryption is a way to encode your email, so only the intended recipient can read it. End-to-end encryption (E2E) is the most secure form of encryption since it encrypts the message from the sender’s device all the way to the recipient’s device.
This means that even if somebody intercepts the encrypted messages, they can’t read them since they don’t have the encryption key. You can use E2E by using email providers that offer encryption technology and other security features.
5. Have a Cybersecurity Plan
A cybersecurity plan helps you prepare for a cyber attack. It includes procedures on how to respond to an attack, how to back up data, and how to restore affected systems. A cybersecurity plan should be regularly updated and tested to ensure its effectiveness.
Make sure to involve your employees in creating the plan, so everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities in case of a cyber attack on webmail.
6. Monitor Email Activity
Monitoring email activity involves tracking each email that is sent and received by the user.
This helps in identifying any suspicious activity, like emails being sent to unknown recipients or emails with unusual attachments. These emails could be a result of phishing attacks or malware infections.
Taking the time to regularly monitor your email activity also helps to enforce email policies within organizations that restrict the usage of emails for official purposes and define security controls.
You can track violations of your organization’s email policies and take corrective action if necessary.
7. Do Regular Backups
Email backups refer to making copies of your emails and storing them in a separate device or online service. Regular backups ensure that if your email data is lost, corrupted, or compromised by hackers, you can recover the lost information.
A secure backup system can be an essential part of your overall email security strategy in several ways:
- Protect against hardware failure: Hard drives can crash, and malware can infect your computer or phone, causing your emails to disappear or become inaccessible.
- Guard against ransomware: Ransomware attacks can lock down your data and demand payment before giving you access to your files. Email backups can provide a valuable layer of protection against such cyber attacks on your IP address.
- Prevent email loss: If you accidentally delete any email, you can restore that email from your file storage backup, guaranteeing that important data is not lost forever.
There are several ways to backup your email data, depending on your email provider, operating system, and personal preferences. Some popular methods include:
- Saving your emails to an external hard drive or USB flash drive: This process involves exporting your email data, then copying it to an external storage device.
- Using a cloud service: Many cloud storage services, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, offer backup and syncing features for your email data.
- Using automated backup software: You can install backup software on your computer, which will automatically backup your email data at regular intervals.
8. Come Up With an Email Retention Policy
An email retention policy is a document that outlines how long email correspondence is stored, how it is managed, and how it is disposed of.
It defines the criteria for storing and managing emails based on their type, importance, and sensitivity. It can also include guidelines for handling emails that contain sensitive or confidential information.
With an email retention policy, you can ensure that your emails are stored, managed, and disposed of properly, and that they are secure.
Creating an email retention policy can be a complex task, but it’s essential for ensuring email security.
To do this, first, you need to identify the types of emails you receive and their importance. Then, you need to decide how long each type of email should be stored and how it should be handled. You also need to define who has access to emails and when.
Finally, make sure that the policy is communicated to all employees who handle email. By following these steps, you can create an email retention policy that is tailored to your organization’s needs and security issues.
If you’re looking for the ultimate solution for secure email, Sekur might be able to help with its encrypted email service.
In fact, Sekur is the best secure email out there. Sure, you can use a free email to send your messages, but if you’re looking for the most secure email providers (and ideally, an ad-free experience!) Sekur is the way to go.
There are other providers out there similar to Sekur, like Mailfence, CounterMail, Posteo, Hushmail, and Proton, but only Sekur offers the level of security you need for your small business.
With encrypted instant messaging and open-source software, you don’t have to worry about data mining or big tech hosting on this 100% private platform.
This secure email service is the best email client for anyone who values secure email storage and messaging. It’s a pro service with next-level security.
You can access via user-friendly mobile apps on iOS for iPhone users, on Android, or even from a browser. It’s easy to migrate your current email to SekurMail, too. There’s even support for custom domains. It supports POP, SMTP, and IMAP protocols with OpenPGP support.
Switzerland is the way to go in terms of data privacy laws, political independence, and stability. Sekur is based out of Switzerland, as mentioned before, so that it can offer the most enhanced security features to its users, like email aliases, a VPN, digital signatures, and more.
Ready to get started? Sekur offers a free version that you can use as a free account trial for seven days. Then, paid plans start with affordable pricing starting at just $5 per month.
So what are you waiting for? Protect your data and what matters most with Sekur.