Email Security: How to Keep Your Emails Safe

Email Security: How to Keep Your Emails Safe
Published in : 14 Nov 2022

Email Security: How to Keep Your Emails Safe

Email security is a top concern for businesses of all sizes. Learn about the latest threats and how to protect your organization with these email security tips.

What's An Email Security Threat?

Scammers occasionally use exploits in technology to gain access to systems and spread malware or steal private data.

Some fraudsters resort to social engineering, which is convincing real people to make choices or take actions that will ultimately benefit the fraudster.

Email scams are a common form of the latter, as they typically contain dangerous links disguised within seemingly innocuous language in the hopes of luring the receiver into clicking. On the other hand, this isn't the whole story.

Most Common Email Threats

email security

1. Ransomware attacks:  Email is a common delivery method for ransomware, which encrypts data on a user's computer and threatens to remove it if the user doesn't pay a ransom.

2. Spoofing: It's similar to phishing scams in that the fraudster pretends to be a reputable business, but this time they use a well-known brand. This gives them access to potentially sensitive information or entry points through which malware can be spread.

3. Pretexting: This occurs when a scam artist takes the time to create a convincing persona or story in order to gain the trust of their victims and steal their information.

4. Conversation Hijacking: Con artists have been known to impersonate employees or trusted partners by compromising an organization's email security, learning the inner workings of the company in the process.

5. Cache Poisoning:  By poisoning a website's or email recipient's cache with malicious data, often known as "cache poisoning," fraudsters can divert traffic from the intended destination to an attacker-controlled server.

6. Directory Harvesting:  Scammers utilize directory harvesting to brute-force their way into a company's or network's internal email accounts. Once they get your email address, they can use it to send you harmful links.

How To Spot An Email Security Threat

As was already said, it can be hard to spot phishing, but there are a few things to look out for that could make a big difference. Don't click on links in emails that say:

- spelling and grammar mistakes all over the place.
- Threats of punishment, fines, or jail time are included.
- Tries to create a sense of urgency or fear that is too big.
- It says it's from a well-known brand, but the design and colors aren't right.
- Asks for private information to be sent via email.
- Don't start with a greeting or don't call you by name.
- Short URLs that look sketchy when you hover over them.

Best Email Security Practices

1. Use a strong email password

Many people use "123456" as their password, which might surprise you. Either that, or they just type "123456789" and send it. Since more than 3 million people use both of these passwords, we should definitely talk about this.

Not only is the security of your business email at risk, but so is the security of your personal email account. For example, thieves don't spend most of their time breaking your door. Instead, they try to open the lock. Even though it is theft, it is the cleanest way to get to your door. Your password does the same thing at the end of the day. They are more likely to get into your account if your password is easy to guess.

Here are some ways to handle your passwords, some of which are recommended by the sites themselves:

- Use both capital letters and small letters.
- Numbers and special characters should be included.
- Stay away from personal information like birthdays, student IDs, hometowns, and so on.
- Instead of words, use phrases.

2. Use two-factor authentication

It sounds like only an expert computer user could do this, but it's actually not that hard. It's more like adding another shield to your account, which is kind of like putting a second lock on the door.

Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is a feature that almost every email platform has, but if yours doesn't yet, you can always switch to a different one.

Even if a hacker guessed your "123456" password, they wouldn't be able to get into your emails because you have two-factor authentication. This means that they still have to enter a code before they can see your emails. 

Most of the time, you get these codes through SMS, email, voice calls, or apps that use a time-based one-time password (TOTP).


3. Monitor your email habits

This is like going back to basics. Even though it sounds easy, this really pays off in the long run. If you're a businessperson, you probably use your business email all day long. It's just as important today as eating and drinking water. So, you should keep track of what you've been doing with your emails.

To begin, you can start by knowing:

- How many newsletters are you getting?
- How many emails and texts do you send in a day?
- Do you spend most of your time reading email threads from people outside of your organization?

Even though you might not think about it much, all of these questions have a lot to do with the security of your business email. There are tools like EmailAnalytics that can help you figure out what your habits are and what your possible security risks are when it comes to email.

4. Look out for “Phishing Emails”

"Phishing emails" are one of the many ways hackers steal your account information. The name comes from a fun outdoor activity. Like bait in fishing, these emails will ask you to "log in" to your account, but in reality, you're just giving them your email address, password, and possibly other sensitive information.

Most phishing emails say they're from your bank or PayPal, but they're actually trying to steal your information. Business email security will be lost if you don't pay attention to the email address, the tone of voice, and even the grammar.

5. Don’t open attachments without scanning them first

We can't say this enough. Most of the time, all you will do with your business account is send and receive business emails.

You might think that the finance group will just break down a project and that will be it. But that's not always the case. Some emails come from people you don't know and even have files for you to open.

This might get you interested. Plus, it might be an official email, in which case you can't just throw it away. Now, you can fix this by using email security tools or by trying to make your email security better. For example, you can scan these attachments with tools like antivirus and/or anti-malware. 

If these programs tell you that something seems to be wrong, you won't think twice about deleting the message or blocking the user for good. Who can say? If you had opened that file, there was a big chance that a breach would have happened.

6. Never access emails from public WiFi

It's like shouting your Facebook password in the middle of a shopping mall. You probably know by now that, in the name of every ISP, using a public WiFi is a bad idea. It's the same as if you'd given the hacker a direct invitation to access the system.

These thieves just require simple programs to see what data is flowing across that system. While possible, advise your coworkers to make use of mobile internet whenever they are not in the office. It's fine if it's not quite as quick. Once you establish in your mind that it outperforms free public WiFi, you're ready to go.

7. Change your password as often as possible

Passwords might be a hassle to remember, therefore you may be accustomed to not changing them. However, the business world is not lenient in this regard.

Changing your passwords on a frequent basis is one of the best ways to keep your email safe.

Every year, we hear about new password leaks and data breaches, and typically, hackers wait a year or so before launching another attempt.

Your password should be considered your first line of security, and changing it at least once a year is excellent practice.

8. Be careful with the devices you use

A select group of modern businesses actively promote BYOD policies. The term "BYOD" refers to the practice of allowing workers to use their own personal computers and other electronic devices for work purposes.

One could argue that this isn't so great if the device you're using to send the email isn't pre-loaded with adequate email security protections. Keep an eye on your personal gadgets as well. 

You shouldn't sign into your business and professional email accounts from just any old computer you come across. Be wary of using public laptops and computers because some can now recall what was last typed on them.

9. Avoid giving your email address away

It's not fair to give up your work email address to just anyone. There are now hidden websites waiting to collect email addresses; if you can help it, steer clear of them. Keep in mind that official company communications will only ever be sent to your work email.

Some, though, have gone out of their way to sell your data to third-party businesses, putting you at risk from even more serious dangers. It's not the most cutting-edge solution, but it's a big deal for email nevertheless.

10.  Log out of your email account when you’re finished

That's a terrific (and appropriate) way to wrap up our list of 10 tips for keeping your email safe. After a long day of work, when you've finally completed your schedule. Be sure to congratulate yourself, but logging out of your email is vital.

Additionally to the 8th best practice, you may be utilizing a strange gadget and fail to log out. You may as well hand over your car keys at the same time.

If you ever need to use a device you aren't familiar with, it's a good idea to get some practice in beforehand on your own.


Final Thoughts

In addition to following the guidelines laid out above, you should also take great care to protect the security of your device. Taking possession of a person's signed-in device is a simple approach to gain access to their email. Be sure to use robust passwords and PIN codes on all of your electronic devices. It's possible to add an extra layer of security to some email apps, like ProtonMail, by creating a password for the app's settings.

If you follow some basic guidelines for cyber security, hackers and snoops won't be able to access your account. Maintain vigilance, and resist the urge to take any short-cuts in the realm of cyber security; doing so will never provide positive results.

This essay was initially published on Converge.

Leave a Reply