The Small Business Guide to Secure Email

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In today’s cyber world, it is undeniable that malicious actors target individuals rather than infrastructure directly. It is much easier to find a weak link within the company and gain access to information and assets that way. When it comes to cyberattacks, no one is immune.

According to Deloitte.com, 91% of all cyberattacks begin with a phishing email to an unsuspecting target. Cybercrime is not limited to the high-profile attacks that we read about in the news. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are also targeted by the same attacks as large enterprises. So businesses of all sizes need secure email solutions for small businesses to mitigate these attacks.

This guide will provide you with several ways to protect your business through secure messaging. But before diving into this, it is imperative that you understand what is secure email for small business and how to achieve it?

What is Secure Messaging?

We talked business email accounts before, so you already know how they differ from your old Gmail, Microsoft or Yahoo. Here, we’re talking about protecting the infrastructure that holds all of your business email.

Email security has a few components, including email encryption, secure email gateways, and authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

To cover all these aspects, especially the encryption part, there are a few services on the market. Secure messaging service for small businesses is like regular email, but with some security enhancements. SMTP (Standard Mail Transfer Protocol) sends emails as plain text, so they are extremely vulnerable to outside attacks. Neither IMAP nor POP3 protect files stored on the mail server. Not only do you need secure message transfer, but the received messages also need to be stored in a secure location.

You may be able to protect your email account from hackers through two-factor or multi-factor authentication, but you need another layer of defense to protect your data from unauthorized access. Secure email providers for small businesses offer secure messaging services.

How does secure messaging work? Well, it’s simple. When you send a message to a recipient, the secure messaging algorithm checks it to determine if it should be encrypted according to the defined criteria. If it meets the requirements, the email is encoded and sent to the recipient.

Why is secure messaging important?

Businesses without secure email are easy targets for email phishing attacks. Email security is critical against cyberattacks targeting small businesses via email.

In most cases, email attacks attempt to trick users into approving a fake transfer request, disclosing confidential information, or downloading malware that can infect your network or demand a ransom from your data.

No matter the size of your business, a successful email phishing attack can cause catastrophic damage, including financial loss, downtime, and reputational damage. With secure emails, third parties or cyber actors find it difficult to hijack your communication, reducing your exposure to risk.

How to Ensure Secure Email for Small Businesses

Most SMBs neglect email security due to various factors including lack of budget and IT staff. Some even use personal email for work, scattering their ability to treat the domain and email infrastructure as a holistic entity. In such cases, it would be pointless to even talk about implementing an enterprise-grade security infrastructure.

Of course, the Internet is full of tips and tricks to secure your professional email. However, understand that you only need three steps to achieve your secure messaging goals: Prevent, Educate, and Respond.

To prevent

From the second you set up your small business email “family,” you need to think big. No matter how many email accounts you have, following protocols, performing regular backups, and establishing other best practices will set you up for success. Remember that it is always easier to prevent disaster than to deal with the consequences.

  • Create a cybersecurity plan: Small businesses need to prepare for the worst. Never assume that you cannot be the target of cybercrime. Prepare a disaster management plan that includes policies, technologies, procedures, and strategies to ensure email security and ensure rapid response in the event of an attack.
  • Make regular backups: Small businesses need to make regular backups of the critical data that governs their day-to-day operation. These include payment details, customer information, quotes and orders.
  • Use strong and secure passwords: Make sure to use a strong and secure password that is hard to guess. Your password must contain at least 12 characters, including numbers, symbols, lowercase and uppercase letters. Avoid using the same password on multiple accounts.
  • Use multi-factor authentication: Encourage your employee to implement multi-factor authentication to enhance email security. Here you need more than your password to access your account. So even if your password is compromised, an attacker will have trouble gaining access to your account.
  • Implement an email retention policy: Establish a policy for employees to delete any email that is not necessary for the operation of the business. You can set a 60-90 day standard and apply a policy to ensure compliance.
  • Use email encryption: Email encryption is essential. It ensures that only authorized users can read your message. You can install an email certificate like Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) or install a software plugin on your email client.
  • Configure email authentication protocols (SPF, DKIM, DMARC): Implement email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM and DMARC helps prevent phishing, email spoofing and other email security issues.

Educate

Your company’s email security is only as strong as its weakest link: people. Email phishing attackers use different social engineering tactics to manipulate people into doing whatever they want. It is therefore essential that your employees are invested and involved in your secure messaging strategy.

  • Train your employees: Most email attacks are successful because someone clicks on a link or performs an action. That said, it’s essential to educate yourself and your employees about the signs of phishing emails and their devastating effects.
  • Adopt healthy cybersecurity habits: You need to educate your staff on good cybersecurity habits to ensure better email security. Some of them include:
    • Think carefully before clicking on links from unknown sources
    • Confirm request for urgent transfers or private information
    • Always keep your devices and browsers up to date
    • If it’s suspicious, report it

To respond

With customer trust, reputation, and revenue at stake, it’s critical that small business owners can quickly detect and prevent ongoing incidents. By creating a security incident response strategy, you can prepare for and respond to any attack quickly. Make sure your employee knows the steps to follow in the event of an incident or violation.

Final Thoughts

Attackers still target small and medium-sized businesses with fraudulent emails, aiming to steal sensitive data or infect the network with malware. Corn small businesses are vulnerable to phishing attacks, implementing the best secure email for small business goes a long way towards protection.

Remember to regularly back up critical business data and use strong passwords and MFA authentication on your account. Enforce SPF, DKIM and DMARC email authentication protocols to strengthen your email security and educate your employees on how to identify and prevent malicious emails.

The post The Small Business Guide to Secure Email appeared first on EasyDMARC.

*** This is a syndicated EasyDMARC Security Bloggers Network blog written by Hasmik Khachunts. Read the original post at: https://easydmarc.com/blog/the-small-business-guide-to-secure-email/

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