Your Email Security Checklist
Network security is often considered the realm of IT professionals, but there’s one aspect of it that touches every part of business: email. Everybody, from interns to sales associates to project managers sends emails to keep the team up-to-date on what’s going on. That’s why email security is an important part of any good business network. Being aware of threats to your network that come from email is the first step to securing your computers, your customers and your business.
Common Threats to Email Security
A hacker has many tools in his or her bag of tricks to pry sensitive information out of a computer network through emails. Taking the time to become familiar with the most recent terminology allows employees to adapt in the fast-changing world of business.
Spoofing allows hackers to get inside by posing as legitimate vendors or customers to gain information from employees that interact with the public. Email correspondence with a customer service representative, for example, could expose that account to viruses hidden in attachments such as ransomware, scareware or other forms of malware.
Hackers may also attempt identity theft through a technique known as phishing. Links in official-looking emails, such as bank or credit card websites, could actually lead to a site where passwords, social security numbers and account numbers are collected.
Phishing evolved out of social engineering, a technique that’s been around as long as computers, if not longer. Because personal details are often used as passwords, a visit to somebody’s office can clue a hacker in on what a password might be. If an employee has a picture of their dog on their desk, there’s a good chance their account password is going to be “Fido123.”
Secure Your Passwords
A good account password is a good start to protecting vital data. You may not be an expert in network securityyet, but these tips are a good place to start:
–>Use unique passwords for different accounts. Having the same password for everything might make it easy to remember, but it’s like using the same key for your house, car and office. There’s always a chance a hacker might get a password and if they do, they’ll have access to any account that uses it.
–>Longer passwords make guessing passwords more difficult. Most people opt for short, easy to remember passwords, but if you can remember a phrase or line from a song, you can remember a longer password.
–>Mix numbers, letters and symbols into your password. Some accounts require this mixture, but it’s good security for any password. “Special characters” such as %^&$# or even a simple space can make your password much harder for both hackers and hacking programs to decode.
–>Try using a phrase only you will know. If only you know that your Aunt Gert sends you a ten dollar bill on your birthday May 15, that could become a password. “Aunt Gert sends 10 bucks on my birthday 5/15” becomes the strong password as “AGs10bomb515.”
Secure Your Employees
Computers are only as good as their users, so every employee must play their part to protect themselves. Give some thought to how comfortable you are with technology, but use these computer security tips right away:
–>Consider limiting attachments and mailbox sizes. Malware attachments often balloon the size of an attachment in suspicious ways. Hunting for those attachments can be hampered by employees who don’t clean out their inbox on a regular basis.
–>Decide what level of Internet filtering is right for your business. Too little web filtering and the likelihood of viruses, malware and other network security issues increases. Too much filtering and productivity slows down as new permissions must be discussed. These best practices ensure your systems won’t go down when you need them.
–>Educate your employees on what you expect in regards to network security. Hold yourself to the same standard. If you want them to change their passwords every month, be prepared to do the same. If email security is important to you, it will be important to them.
Secure Your Network
Hardware solutions can help protect your network security. A few easy steps can make a hacker work harder to get your information and decide to move on to an easier target:
–>Make sure your systems stay compatible with modern technology. Older systems often have difficulty integrating with newer devices. Those gaps can let hackers exploit the issues and get a foothold inside a system.
–>Load software updates in a timely manner to keep your technology current. These updates often contain fixes and other patches that close off loopholes that hackers have learned to use in previous editions of the software.
–>Back up your important data. If your system does go down, having an off-site backup will get you back in the game much more quickly than having to rebuild everything from scratch.
Your best bet? Take a team approach to email security to ensure all your employees are on board and aware of common and major threats. Create policies and procedures that ensure email security best practices are in place, create a secure firewall to detect threats before they become a problem, and be sure you hold yourself to the same standards, serving as a model for your organization.