Despite the integral role email plays in maintaining consistent communication in both professional and personal use, many of us take default email privacy and security features for granted.
No matter the size or scope of your organisation – or the status of your individual profile – email hacks and data theft remain some of the most prolific cyber-attacks amongst perpetrators across the globe, with the primary motive being to turn a profit.
And with over 319 billion emails sent and received worldwide in 2021 – each containing personal data – protecting your inbox from tragedy is crucial, especially as companies work to bolster our digital strategies throughout 2022 and beyond.
From ransomware and phishing to fraud and identity theft, there are a whole host of cybercrime categories in circulation to target vulnerabilities. The good news is, there are lots of tips and procedures that can remove both you and your organisation from the firing line, and help mitigate the nuisance and chaos caused as a result of malicious email attacks.
To spearhead your journey towards safeguarding your inbox, here are seven tips from the team here at Central…
1. Get to know your service provider’s Terms of Service
The first step in any digital privacy and security strategy is getting to know your email provider’s Terms of Service – only by knowing and understanding what the gaps are, can you fill them effectively.
While you might – rightfully – assume that your email provider shares the same values as you when it comes to data protection, this isn’t always the case. Take Google as a key reminder. If you’re not careful about who you grant permissions to, third-party developers could be trawling through your inbox. You can see an exhaustive list of those with access, by going to myaccount.google.com and going to ‘security’.
2. Adopt and maintain regular training protocols
Your employees are your first line of defence in any threat. Ensuring full compliance throughout your organisation is essential in reducing the likelihood of compromise, Furthermore, undertaking regular tests will allow you to evaluate understanding of best practice within your firm to better inform future privacy and security decisions.
For example, company-wide phishing exercises can uncover whether or not your employees could successfully identify a malicious email – with a notification being triggered from clicking a masked link. Alternatively, you could regularly quiz your staff on different scenarios, to see whether their approach to a security threat would be correct.
3. Download anti-virus software
Anti-virus software is self-explanatory – it protects your device against viruses. And with cyber-attacks becoming increasingly sophisticated, these programs are becoming increasingly accustomed to tackling a diverse range of threats – including using behaviour monitoring and machine learning to scope out threats before they even exist.
Not only does anti-virus software scan inbound email attachments for potential dangers, but it also monitors outbound communications to prevent spam emails or corrupted files from being distributed to your network and ruining your credibility.
4. Use multi-factor authentication
While weak passwords are an obvious risk to security, strong passwords aren’t always enough to keep cybercriminals out of your account. Hackers are often either sophisticated enough to guess your login credentials, or have powerful insight into information on the dark web.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) offers additional inbox protection by relying on more than just a password to gain entry. Such measures include one-time passwords, responding to an SMS prompt, biometric scanning, or even diverting your login attempt to a pre-listed, alternative device.
5. Create custom email filters
Cyber criminals are coming up with innovative ways of evading your spam filter every day, but configuring your email account with tailored filters can help to catch those that slip through the net.
Involving both inbound and outbound proactive email monitoring, email filtering services classify messages into different categories to mark them as safe – protecting both you and your network. By partnering with security and data protection leader, Barracuda, Central Networks offers a complete email management solution – with powerful and customisable governing of messages – to ensure productivity isn’t impacted throughout your business.
6. Encrypt your connections
To prevent private and personal information from being intercepted by data thieves, it’s important to encrypt the connection between your device and your email server. You’ll know if a site is encrypted because it will begin with https://.
While some email service providers encrypt your connection automatically, others require you to actively alter your account settings. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers peace of mind that your emails are secure, by routing traffic through a separate server and making your online movements less trackable.
Alternatively, you can encrypt individual emails through designated apps that make private messages impossible to decipher, unless you are explicitly authorised to access them – even in cases where your inbox might be compromised.
7. Lock your device in public spaces
Whether you’re stepping away from your device for thirty seconds or thirty minutes, never leave your email account visible for others to read at a glance or – even worse – go in and access. Not only could they retrieve sensitive data from your inbox, they could also change your log-in information to prevent you from accessing it for good.
To temporarily lock your desktop, simply press Windows+L on a Windows device, or Command+Control+A on a Mac. Then, once you’re ready to go again, re-enter your password and see your tabs re-open as before.
Whilst specific requirements will differ from one organisation – and person – to another, these tips provide a great foundation for everyone to bolster their email privacy and security strategies even further.
So, whether you’ve fallen victim to an email attack or are simply concerned about your current level of protection, it’s important to explore what your options are. To hear further advice from our team of cyber security experts, or to learn more about the value we can add to your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Central Networks are a strategic technology partner. Excellent technology is a given, customer service, trust and long-term relationships are what drive our business. We support CEOs, Heads of IT, IT technicians and transformation directors to ensure technology provides an edge to their organisations.