Emails continue to be our main form of communication, whether for business or personal. However, with our increased usage of emails, the number of cyberattacks has increased. Last year in 2022, over 61% of phishing attacks were recorded.

With the rate of cybercrime growing, now is the time for business owners and individuals to arm themselves with knowledge on how best to protect against email security threats. That’s why we are here to empower you with the knowledge you need to confidentially take proactive steps to deal with email security. This essential guide will give you the best practices for keeping your emails safe and secure.

Why are Email Security Best Practices Important?

Email security is a critical defence against the rising wave of digital predators! Unfortunately, phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated and commonplace. In fact, research shows that 54% of malicious links use ‘.com’ domains while only 8.9 % use ‘.net’. No company or individual can rest easy; some of the most popular names targeted include Adobe, Google, My portfolio Backblaze and Weebly.  Suffering from data breaches can be financially damaging for any type of business with an average cost ranging between $50M-$392M depending on volume. It’s essential to practice secure email best practices in order to protect your personal information from these dangerous actors!

Best practices to follow:

1. Create secure passwords

Having a secure password is the first step in protecting yourself online. It’s important to create strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed or cracked by hackers. Avoid using common words or phrases, and make sure each account has its own unique password. It is also recommended that you change your passwords periodically (90 days) to stay ahead of any potential threats.

2. Enable two-factor authentication 

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of protection when accessing accounts online by requiring users to enter a code sent via SMS or another authentication method after entering their username and password. This prevents unauthorized access even if someone manages to guess or obtain your username and password since they will not have access to the second factor necessary to enter the account. Making sure 2FA is enabled on all accounts whenever possible can greatly reduce the risk of a successful attack on your accounts.

3. Use data encryption email services

Encrypting sensitive data helps protect your information from falling into the wrong hands. All emails should be encrypted with security protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) before being sent out so that only intended contacts can view the content in its original form, without you having to worry about unauthorised interception. Whilst Free Email services such as Gmail, Yahoo and others use encryption techniques, they only apply to emails during transit. For peace of mind, use Siccura for the added layer of protection to your existing email accounts.

4. Train employees on email security best practices

Educating employees on email security is an essential part of keeping corporate data safe. At regular intervals, staff should be given the opportunity to stay inundated with knowledge of the threats they may encounter and the tools available to protect the business.  Data and cybersecurity awareness training programs really help employees stay inundated with various types of cyberattacks. These programs are designed to educate users on various threats such as Phishing attacks, whilst providing practical tips on how to spot these attacks before it succeeds.

5. Be cautious with email attachments

Be savvy when it comes to email attachments – even from trusted sources! Malicious code can be contained in files such as executables (e.g. EXE, JAR, MSI), Word docs and PDFs – so double check before you open an attachment just in case the sender has been exploited by attackers without knowing. Antimalware software is a great line of defence against malicious emails but doesn’t take any chances; stay wary of all incoming attachments for your organisation’s protection!

6. Be wary of emails that contain links

Clicking on seemingly harmless email links can be like walking into a trap! Attackers are becoming far too clever, and sophisticated in the way they are setting up fake websites that impersonate brands. Take caution – if you ever feel unsure, don’t click the link: type the domain directly into your browser rather than trusting what’s in front of you. Stay safe online!

7. Avoid using personal email for work purposes and vice versa

Foster an appropriate yet secure email culture in your business. Establish a clear and comprehensive corporate email policy that outlines acceptable use rules, restrictions and procedures to reduce the risk of threats like spear phishing caused by mixing work-related communications with personal emails.

8. Use only authorised devices for business email

In the era of bring-your-own-device (BYOD), it has never been easier for employees to access corporate email. But relying on offsite, non-secure devices can be a risky move, which can lead to putting sensitive information in jeopardy.   Instead, ensure your organization’s security by requiring all emails to be sent from trusted and approved systems only – this is an efficient way to protect those critical credentials!

9. Avoid public Wi-Fi

Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks can seem like a blessing for employees, providing on-the-go access to corporate emails. But beware! Malicious actors use open-source packet sniffers such as Wireshark, putting your personal information at risk and any account credentials via email that get logged in when connected automatically – even if users don’t check their inboxes directly. Stay safe by only using secure known networks when it comes to accessing and checking important emails containing confidential data.

 10. Use email security protocols

Keep your email safe by using the DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) standards. With DKIM you can enforce an additional layer of security with digital signatures to ensure emails have not been tampered with after being sent. SPF verifies that messages come from their true source; DMARC enhances this feature even further so domain owners are in charge of authorization for sending out emails from their domains.

11. Use antivirus software

Keeping your emails secure is essential in this day and age. Make sure you have a complete suite of tools to ensure every message stays safe – from anti-malware, spam blockers, virus protection, email filtering & monitoring systems to firewalls and endpoint security measures. With these robust solutions implemented on all devices sending messages through digital channels, rest assured that the integrity of your correspondence will remain uncompromised!

12. Make sure you log out

Protect your confidential work information by logging out of emails every time you walk away. Leaving email open can be a risky business: take the extra step to secure yourself and your data!

No business is too small to be the target of a cyber attack, and email is often the vector through which these attacks are carried out. By taking some simple steps to secure your email communications and being vigilant about potential threats, you can keep your business safe from harm. Siccura Mail is an email data protection solution developed to help businesses stay in control of every email. The easy-to-use solution locks all email content including attachments and gives you the key to unlock and stay in control of your message. So, no matter where your emails go, with or without your knowledge, you stay in control.