When exploring the various methods that malicious actors use to deliver threats to businesses, email routinely comes out on top.
Email is a vastly accessible social medium that employees routinely access from their work phones and computers. With direct access to company files, emails act as a gateway that can connect malicious threats right to where they’ll do the most damage.
Email attack vectors, like phishing and malware, are incredibly common. In fact, phishing is only becoming more common each year, increasing by 34% in 2021 and an incredible 110% in Q3 of 2023. As all companies have to exist in a shared digital space to remain competitive, there isn’t an active business that doesn’t regularly deal with emails and other forms of communication.
Considering the vast majority of cyber threats land in an employee’s inbox before becoming a major security issue, this should be your first priority when securing your business in 2024. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of email security, demonstrate why this medium can be so dangerous, and outline the top strategies that businesses can employ to increase their cyber defenses over the coming year.
Email security is a primary target for malicious actors due to how widely accessible it is. If someone works for your company, they likely have an email account. For decades, email has been the primary method that businesses use to communicate with their employees and with the outside world. With that in mind, everyone has an email account, so everyone is vulnerable.
Malware and phishing threats have increased drastically in 2023, with Q3 nearly setting a record for the highest total of any quarter in history. With the threat continuously rising, businesses should endeavor to implement a range of methods that help improve email security as soon as possible.
Here are the leading methods of improving email security for businesses, ranging from architectural changes to educational drives for employees:
While employees are typically the weak link when it comes to protecting your business from cybercrime, that doesn’t mean there is nothing your company can do to lower the threat. For example, your business is able to provide email security firewalls and malware detectors that scan incoming emails and prevent any malicious threats from arriving to your site.
When a spam or malicious email arrives in an employee’s inbox, it is completely down to them to determine whether or not it is safe to open. However, if you prevent that email from ever arriving in their inbox in the first place, you mitigate the worst from ever occurring.
Wherever you can, implement email security tools that help to lower the chance of any malicious threats from slipping through the cracks.
Phishing is one of the most common ways that employees fall into cyber threats. Action bais urges them to respond to phishing emails and causes them to give away personal information or account details. In most companies, if a hacker gains access to your system with a username and password, they’ll have unbridled access to your entire repository of information.
One way of effectively reducing the impact of any security breach is to employ identity verification and authorization systems. Authorization schemes like Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) ensure that only an employee can access their account, even if a hacker has their sign-in details.
You can explore a whole range of MFA tools, like phone verification or biometrics. However, to get the most from this system, you should couple it with access control in your business. For example, you could determine that only some users have access to certain files. By zoning your files with access control, you ensure that hackers who do gain access to a system won’t be able to get to all of your files.
These are vital approaches that will radically decrease the severity of any email-based cyber threat that comes your way.
While often overlooked, employee education is one of the most effective ways of reducing the overall cyber threat to your business in 2024. According to the Chief Executive, almost 90% of all cyber events are the direct cause of human error. Whether an employee downloaded something they shouldn’t have or accidentally fell for a phishing trap, one click is all it takes to expose your entire system.
Your business should endeavor to offer extensive employee education training for all of your workers. Absolutely anyone who has an email account or has access to your files should have a comprehensive understanding of what a threat looks like and how to report it.
As email is one of the most popular ways for hackers to deliver phishing and malware scams, any employee who has one should go to training. If possible, make your cybersecurity training a part of general onboarding, as that will ensure that anyone who comes into your business understands the potential threat and how to respond.
Email security is the first frontier of cybersecurity, acting as an accessible medium where some of the worst security threats commonly occur. With how essential email is to modern business, it’s simply not a possibility for businesses to stop using email. Instead of trying to change the entire communication infrastructure that companies around the globe rely on, you should instead focus on improving every aspect of email security possible.
By using the strategies laid out in this article, businesses can increase the minimum level of security defense across every email-connected sector. From improving baseline cybersecurity email technology to teaching employees about how vital a comprehensive approach to email security is, every little helps.
To counter the mounting cyber threat, businesses must turn to preventative and protective measures in 2024.