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5 Critical Email Security Tips For SMBs

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04 Jan 2021

In this ever-expanding digital world, nothing is completely safe anymore. As the internet grows and expands, so do the risks of data breaches and hacker attacks.

Do you know how hackers gain access to the data of different companies and their customers? Mostly through emails!

This means that as long as your business is online and uses email marketing or any other marketing tactic, it is a potential target for cybercriminals. Even if it’s a small corporation and you don’t have much to lose, you can lose confidential customer data as well as business data that cybercriminals can use in a number of ways.

The number of small businesses that are being targeted by cybercriminals is alarmingly high. In 2017, 61% of small businesses were victims of such attacks. That means 2 out of 3 businesses.

In order to keep your business safe from such attacks, we have compiled a set of tips and guidelines for SMBs.

Encrypt Your Emails

There are over two billion email users in the world. With a large number of emails being sent and received daily, the chances of cyberattacks are higher than ever. Almost every day, trillions of spam messages are generated and a large number of these spam messages contain viruses.

In order to protect yourself and your business, it is recommended that you encrypt your emails. Encryption will help you protect your business from such cyber-attacks and prevent data leaks.

Email encryption simply protects your emails from being read by anyone other than the intended recipient. This is done by encrypting your emails using some specified scheme, i.e., scrambling it, and then decrypting or unscrambling it at the receiver’s end using the same scheme.

A public key which is common to everyone is used to encrypt the message and scramble it. There is a private key which is only restricted to the sender and recipient, it is used to decrypt the message.

A number of different approaches can be used to encrypt emails, with the most common one being Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) approach.

In this method, the message is encrypted and then compressed before being sent. This helps make the message secure as well as saves disk space. A session key is also generated with the encrypted message. When the recipient receives the message, it uses the private key to retrieve the session key, which is then used to decrypt the message.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Setting up a strong and unique password and changing it from time to time is one of the essentials that every business should do.

But this alone is not enough to ensure complete security and protection from hackers and cybercriminals. This is because once the password is cracked, the hacker will have unrestricted access to all your email data and everything else.

In order to completely secure your data, using multi-factor authentication is necessary. In case someone cracks your password using brute force attack, they still won’t be able to access your account and everything in it.

A common example of multi-factor authentication is two-factor authentication or 2FA. It is commonly used by different social media sites. In 2FA you have to enter your email and password, after which a pin code is generated and sent to your mobile number. This pin code is used to access your account. This extra layer of security is essential to protect all your company’s data as well as the customer’s data.

Secure Your Wi-FiNetwork

In regards to Wi-Fi and internet connection, there is one simple policy that one should follow. Do not open any business email account using a public Wi-Fi network, such as one at the airport, parks, libraries, etc. Make sure that your employees do the same.

Along with this, make sure that you or your employees do not access business email accounts using an insecure device as all this might lead to potential cyber-attacks.

This is important because hackers and other cybercriminals use public Wi-Fi connections to hack into devices and steal data. In case you have to use your business email account on public Wi-Fi, using a trusted VPN (Virtual Private Network) service is recommended.

In order to protect your Wi-Fi network at home or in the office, it is recommended that you change your admin id and password frequently and disable all guest connections.

Train Your Employees

The most important thing is to train your employees and teach them about internet security and cyber-attacks. They should have sufficient knowledge on how to protect the company’s domain from hackers and how to prevent falling into their traps.

You should inform your employees about the different tactics used by hackers. The most common one is when they send emails that appear to be from the company’s domain, requesting a password change. Once the receiver enters his id and password, the hacker gets access to the account.

Another hacking technique is by sending malware as attachments. The employees should be advised to avoid opening attachments from unverified sources as there is a high chance that they might contain malware.

It is therefore important to teach your employees about different hacking techniques and how to avoid them along with teaching them the importance of internet security.

Configure Your Email Authentication Protocol

Hackers can sometimes pose as other legitimate businesses and lure users into sharing their personal data. They can use different domain names to accomplish this task. You certainly don’t want your domain to be used for phishing data.

In order to protect your domain, you should set up different authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

These protocols will give you control over all the email traffic being generated from your domain so that you can spot a hacker if one tries to slide in.

Conclusion

Implementing the above-mentioned protocols and following these tips will make your data, as well as your customer’s data, secure from hackers and cybercriminals. Although small businesses are the prime target for such hackers, you can make your business secure by following these steps.

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