Cybercrime is increasingly common and costly, with the average attack causing more than $1 million in damage. With the majority of threats originating in emails and attachments, it’s vital for businesses of all sizes to effectively protect themselves against spam and malicious emails.
But how can you begin to protect your business against the rising tide of cybercrime? For starters, consider these key email security tips that you and your employees can practice every day:
1. Never open attachments in unsolicited emails.
Attachments are one of the leading ways that cybercriminals spread viruses, so it’s important to be wary of any attachment that comes from an unsolicited email. In fact, to be safe, just don’t open them if they come from an unknown sender. And even if the file looks legitimate, be cautious. Sender email addresses and even filenames can be spoofed (for example, turning EXEs into JPEGs). As soon as you open an infected attachment, that executable file could spread a virus throughout your computer.
2. Avoid over-sharing.
Never include information such as credit-card details, your Social Security number or your address via email. Even if your company has a highly effective email security solution in place, your friend, family and business contacts might not, which means your information could be vulnerable once it hits their inbox.
3. Consider a separate file-sharing system.
Many businesses use company email as a type of file-sharing system, sending hundreds or even thousands of attachments through email each day. However, this opens your business up to potential problems, as cybercriminals often use attachments as a way into your network. And, once an employee’s email is compromised, important company information in those attachments could be at risk.
Instead, consider using a separate file-sharing system, such as DropBox, to send and receive files. That way, your employees will have fewer emails and attachments to sort through, and they’ll be less at risk of falling for a virus scheme.
4. Move important files out of your email altogether.
For the reasons above, make it a habit to move important files out of your email on a regular basis. Upload them onto your company’s network, or add them to DropBox. This will go a long way toward keeping your inbox uncluttered, and will help protect important information from scammers.
5. Be on the lookout for phishing scams.
A phishing email looks like a message from a legitimate business—maybe even from someone you know. Phishing scams direct you to a website and often prompt you to enter your personal information; for example, an email that claims to be from your bank could direct you to a website that asks you to enter your account information and password.
These schemes are becoming increasingly popular, so it’s important to verify that any email with a link in it is actually from the business or person who claims to be sending it. If the formatting, tone or branding seem suspicious, it’s likely a phishing attempt.
6. Only share your email with trusted people and organizations.
Make sure that only trusted individuals and agencies receive your email address. Never post it on websites, social media or forums, where it may become available to scammers. By limiting the number and type of senders who can email you, you will improve your email security significantly.
7. Keep your work and personal email accounts separate.
Avoid the urge to mimic Hillary Clinton and combine your business and personal emails into one account. While you’re at it, avoid checking your personal email on work devices. There are two reasons behind this tip: First, by putting all your “eggs in one basket,” you increase the opportunity for hackers to gain access to all of your information—both business and personal—in one email account. Second, opening and sending personal emails can expose your company’s network to threats that are not blocked by its firewall and email security solution.
8. Install a comprehensive email security solution.
Even with these email security tips in mind, your company could still be at risk of a virus or spoofing or phishing attack—not to mention, subject to wasted hours sorting through loads of spam messages.
For true email security, it’s important that your business is protected by a comprehensive solution that includes spam filtering with sender authentication, antivirus and anti-spoofing technology, and the DMARC email standard to prevent spoofing attempts. With a higher level of email security, you can rest assured that your business is well-protected from all of today’s emerging threats.