The Complete Guide to Email Security for Small Businesses

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In a world of fast-paced work environments and evolving tech responsibilities, data and privacy are valuable assets that businesses must protect. As companies adopt new technologies and cyber-attacks follow suit, they must become cyber-resilient. Time and money are at stake when your business’s email security falls through the cracks.

Several cyber security strategies can be implemented within your organization to prevent this, including protecting your data in the cloud, network, and email. The list goes on, but because the largest attack surface for any business is email, it’s essential to know the challenges IT leaders face with protecting their inboxes and the best practices of email security in 2023.

While there’s no doubt that email is the most rampant and accessible channel that hackers attempt to attack, fortunately, there are simple solutions to secure your business email accounts. To protect your organization’s emails companywide, we must first understand the common threats that hackers commonly deliver to your inbox.

Common threats to keep on your radar

  • Social engineering: the umbrella term for tactics used to trick users into giving away sensitive information. It’s typically initiated when a user opens an attachment that contains malware from an organization mimicking a trusted source.
  • Ransomware: a type of malware that withholds information, threatens to publish information or blocks access to a computer system until a payment is completed. This threat is spread through phishing emails with malicious attachments or visiting infected websites.
  • Phishing: emails that hackers send to request sensitive information, such as credit card codes and passwords, to gain access to a system. These hackers will pose as trusted sources and are the most common type of cyber-attack.
  • Malicious spam: unwanted messages disguised as advertisements to spread malware. These can be remedied by avoiding clicking pop-ups, keeping your operating system up to date, and by installing antivirus software.

Major challenges in email security

1. Weak endpoints

Any device connected to an organization’s network is known as an endpoint. Businesses with more employees who use technology will have multiple endpoints, and it’s in their best interests to secure these connections. An endpoint is essentially an entryway or an opportunity for hackers to infiltrate an organization’s system. Deloitte found that it costs organizations $5 million to recover from an endpoint attack; companies face productivity loss, system downtime, IT infrastructure damage, and data theft when they occur. Protecting your end user’s email inboxes is a great way to enhance email security measures because one wrong click can be detrimental to your organization.

2. WFH challenges

Thousands of businesses across the US implemented Work From Home (WFH) policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies have helped small to medium-sized businesses and large enterprises save money while increasing productivity. Still, the number of increased email security incidents has increased since the beginning of the pandemic. Aside from other cybersecurity risks of remote working, Deloitte reported that 25% of respondents who worked from home reported an increase in fraudulent emails. These respondents were non-security experts, so the number of increased email scams may be much higher.

3. Lack of awareness

The greatest opportunity for hackers to infiltrate company systems is through phishing scams. Because this is a social engineering tactic, anyone within your organization is a target for cybercriminals. Sometimes, it’s not apparent that an email is a phishing scam, so frequently, people will unknowingly give away their information and realize it when their bank statements reveal unauthorized purchases. Your employees hold much power in protecting your business. By planting the seed to teach them the best email security practices and implementing ongoing lessons, each employee will work to protect your business.

Email Security Solutions for Businesses

Email security comprises many different variables, tactics, and challenges that must be viewed holistically. By missing one piece of the puzzle, there can be a gap in your strategy, exposing your business to data breaches and cybercriminals.

1. Phishing

As the most common cyber-attack, phishing scams are no strangers to wreaking havoc on small businesses. Fortunately, education and awareness can combat even the most realistic scams, so here are five ways to spot a phishing email.

  • Company deception: Scammers frequently mimic well-known businesses to appear credible and trustworthy. Fake email addresses missing company domains, and logos inconsistent with the brand are signs to look out for.
  • Request for sensitive information: No legit company will ever ask you to reveal sensitive information. If the email requests financial and personal identifying information, it’s most likely a cyber-attack.
  • Misspellings or bad grammar: Many scammers will send emails that include lousy grammar and spelling, so a dead giveaway for phishing scams is in the text itself.
  • Suspicious links or attachments: Attachments and links are easy ways for cybercriminals to infiltrate your system and install malware, so think before you click!
  • A sense of urgency: It’s a psychological trigger to respond quickly to things marked as “urgent.” If possible, double-check with the sender before taking any action.

Many companies fall for phishing traps, but there’s a simple solution to educate and swat away these scammers. Sophos Phish Threat for small businesses is a phishing attack simulation that offers training for end users. This software helps reduce your organization’s largest attack surface—your company emails—and simulates attacks to prepare your employees for an actual event.

2. MFA and SSO

Password security is essential when securing your inboxes because if hackers get a hold of your email password, they can reset and hack into all accounts connected to your email. By implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), you gain multiple layers of security to protect your accounts. On the other hand, single-sign-on (SSO) offers users a set of login credentials to use once, and is another great option to strengthen your password security.

3. Email spam filters

Have you ever received a truckload of spam emails with no end in sight? If the answer is yes, implementing spam filtering software will stop these unwanted emails from reaching your inbox. Spam filters detect unsolicited and virus-infested emails to protect your users and give them peace of mind. There are many ins and outs of spam filters, so understanding them is the first step to preventing email spam.

4. Email encryption

Encrypting your emails masks the content going in and out of your organization so only the intended recipient can access the message. Encryption only gives the receiver a private key in code to read the message versus a public key that everyone can access. Email encryption benefits companies that send sensitive client and business information through the email server.

Top advantages of email security

The leading reason why companies hope to improve their email security is for better protection of their data and information. However, good email security has multiple benefits, including protecting data and information, meeting compliance standards, saving money, and preventing threats. Let’s take a deeper look into each of these benefits.

1. Protect data and information

The main reason companies opt for securing a better email security strategy is for data protection. This strategy entails various techniques to protect sensitive information within email accounts against unauthorized access, loss, and compromise.

2. Meet compliance standards

Compliance standards with business emails extend beyond law requirements. Because sensitive business data may be communicated via email, it’s crucial to have a firm grip on information that passes through this channel. Your work email is a repository of critical data, so choosing an email program that encrypts messages and scans attachments is essential. Sophos Email for small businesses is a trusted tool to stop phishing and imposter threats. It is a proactive threat detection tool that uses deep learning and artificial intelligence. We strongly recommend it to our clients who want peace of mind with data security.

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3. Cost-savings

As more businesses incorporate technology, cyber-attacks will inevitably become more intelligent, stronger, and frequent. For short-term results and long-term cost savings, having a robust email platform prevents cyberattacks and ensures that an email filtering system watches over data in your systems. Maximizing email security investments save money and provide businesses with a state-of-the-art threat detection system.

Implementing a strategy for your business

Email security consists of many unspoken rules, but we’re here to change that. Education and awareness are critical for every level within your business because, nowadays, everyone uses email to communicate. At Parried, we help small to medium-sized businesses prepare for these challenges with email security solutions that can be implemented immediately. We offer user-level protection and have helped clients from all industries with email security challenges. Book a free IT consultation with our professionals today to learn more information.