Cyberattacks are on the rise – and with a massive shift to remote work, business network security has become more important than ever.
The vast majority of cyberattacks are possible because of human error. When a team member clicks a link on a phishing email, or sends credentials and other security details to someone they erroneously think is a member of your organization, they put the entire network at risk.
By taking some simple steps, you can seriously reduce the risk of your network being infiltrated by hackers. Here are some of the best tips for improving your email security:
Implement best practices
Want a low-cost, incredibly effective way of improving your security?
Talk to your employees about email security, and implement these best practices across your network:
Encourage the use of strong passwords
You want your team to use strong passwords. Commonly, these passwords are said to use a combination of characters, as well as uppercase and lowercase letters. Random characters can be almost impossible to remember, however. You can have a strong memorable password by:
- Using a long password (12+ characters is good, 16+ characters is incredible)
- Using a password you don’t use anywhere else
Encourage your employees to use combinations of four or more words that they can easily remember, like DeliciousOrangeVitaminDepot. That password is long enough to be quite unhackable, but incredibly easy to remember.
Have the anti-phishing talk
Phishing is one of the most common hacking tactics. It comes in many forms, but the basic format is the same: phishers send emails that are made to look legitimate in an effort to acquire username/password combinations.
These emails often include a link to a fake login page that’s made to replicate a trusted company’s login page. It may be your company’s login page, or the login page for a company like Amazon.
To avoid phishing attacks, teach your team members to check for:
- Generic greetings (Dear Sir/Ma’am, etc.)
- Errors in the email address/domain
- Spelling errors
- Suspicious looking links (check the URL before clicking anything)
By knowing the signs of phishing, you can dramatically reduce the risk of compromising your user/pass combos.
Discourage accessing emails via public networks
Public networks aren’t always properly secured. Some hackers set up public networks in order to snoop on network activity. Even Wi-Fi that’s been set up with the best intentions can be full of vulnerabilities. Man-in-the-Middle attacks, Wi-Fi snooping – the list goes on.
Don’t let your team use public networks for private business.
Use VPNs for remote work
In the same vein as discouraging public network use, you should set up VPNs for all remote work. While your team members may believe that their connections are private, network security can be difficult to set up – and the home networks of remote workers might not be properly configured.
The use of VPNs can seriously reduce the risk of private network connections becoming compromised.
Hackers are a lot like burglars. They’re not necessarily looking for the most valuable accounts to hack – rather, they’re looking for the easiest.
Imagine one of your team members has been, despite your urging, using the same user/pass combo for all of their logins. They get hit in a data breach at some other company, and their user/pass combo shows up on the dark web in a batch of user/pass combos.
With two-factor authentication (2FA), your network may still be secure – the hackers might need to access the team member’s cell phone in order to infiltrate the network. Without 2FA, your network is very vulnerable.
Purchase anti-spam software
While you can teach team members about phishing emails, some of them are pretty sophisticated. An exhausted team member might not perform all the right checks – suddenly, they’ve given their credentials to a hacker.
There’s sophisticated anti-spam software on the market that can filter out spam emails. Some of this software (most of it is SaaS) can also increase your cloud security, adding features to suites like Microsoft 365 (and, thus, Outlook).
Backup and encrypt
Do you have valuable information you want to protect?
Backup important emails. Learn about the automatic backup features of your email provider, and take steps to ensure your most important emails are permanently backed up – on the cloud, and physically.
You’ll also want to encrypt any important communications. Review security protocols, and ensure that your team members know what emails need to be encrypted.
Following all of these steps will seriously increase your email security. It’s important to remember, however, that email security is only the first step. Hackers can access your network even if your team’s email accounts are incredibly secure.
Services like managed detection and response, software like firewalls and anti-viruses, and a highly trained IT team who can secure your network are all important. Hacks are getting more sophisticated every day, but in the world of cyberattacks, defense always wins – provided it’s done right.