Email Security: Why Small Businesses Should Focus on It

Despite the remarks about the “death of email’ and how archaic it is as a mode of communication by today’s standards, it remains a preferred communication medium due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Because of its ubiquity, however, it’s also commonly used as a backdoor by cybercriminals. This makes email security a top priority for both large and small businesses.

The email has been used for years, and as such, cyberattackers are familiar with its vulnerabilities. If you’re not careful, your business can fall victim to phishing scams, ransomware attacks, or malware. Safeguarding your email servers and users should be part of your cybersecurity best practices to ensure that all your bases are covered.

Top Reasons to Focus on Email Security Today

The changes brought about by the pandemic have pushed businesses to adopt alternative, often creative, ways of doing business. Cyberattackers have been taking advantage of the situation as companies navigate the unfamiliar territory that is “hybrid work.” In 2020 alone, an FBI report states that the agency received a record 791,790 reports of internet scams amounting to losses of over $4.2 billion. The three main types of cyberattacks were phishing, extortion, and non-payment or non-delivery scams, with business email compromise (BEC) attacks being the costliest of all.

As a small business, it can be easy to overlook email security as part of an overall cybersecurity plan. The potential damage cyberattacks can cause should be enough to convince you of the value of the security; if not, below are the reasons why you shouldn’t take it for granted.

A Distributed Workforce Increases the Risk

The pandemic has transformed business and the workforce drastically and significantly. Many employees now work off the premises and rely on email and other online platforms to communicate and stay connected with colleagues and enterprise systems. Increased reliance on email also increases the chances of human error, and cyber attackers try to leverage this to gain unauthorized access to sensitive enterprise data. 

Cyberattacks are Now More Convincing

Phishing scams and other cyberattacks now use social engineering to orchestrate targeted attacks that are more lucrative compared to the “spray and pray” approach from years back. Spear phishing and BEC attacks are hard to detect and have a high chance of confusing employees because they disguise themselves as legitimate emails coming from persons of authority in the company. These emails even go as far as copying the tone and style guide of a specific organization while making seemingly legitimate, urgent requests like money transfers, payments, or sending personal or business credentials.

Cyberattacks Take Advantage of Legacy Systems

As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, traditional email security measures become less effective and enterprise systems, if not checked, become more susceptible to data breaches. The problem with legacy systems is that their detection methods rely on predefined rules based on known threats. Keeping your security systems updated is a must if you want your small business to be safe from cyberattacks and other security threats. This ensures that you are always one step ahead of cyber attackers.

Employees Don’t Get EnoughTraining

Security awareness training sessions are typically conducted infrequently and mostly forgotten right after it’s done. Because these training sessions can be time-consuming and not particularly interesting for most, it’s not something that employees look forward to. However, it’s something that should be done—and done frequently. Ideally, cybersecurity training should be done in real-time and tailored to individual employees or groups to aid retention and compliance. The goal is to promote not just awareness but also behavioral changes that will help in the overall improvement of security protocols and systems.

IT Security Teams are Overworked

Because cyberattacks evolve at a rapid pace, Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) tend to be overworked. The challenges in justifying the spending on security solutions and organizational infrastructure changes add to their already stressful lifestyles. To avoid spreading themselves too thinly, many CISOs look for automated, AI-powered solutions that can lessen the burden on the shoulders of IT security teams and let them focus on critical tasks.

The Damage is Long-term

Small businesses not only risk losing data in case of a cyberattack, but they can also lose customers and key employees in the aftermath. Also, if a data breach is not addressed promptly, the damage can be continuous and vast, compromising large amounts of data in email servers and within your company’s network. Compromised accounts can grow exponentially due to their air of authenticity. Because emails come from an actual email account from the company domain, employees can be duped into sending sensitive personal and business data to unauthorized persons.

Moving Forward With Email Security

There are over 300 billion emails sent and received each day around the world, proving that it’s still a trusted mode of communication, especially for businesses. With so many users, it’s also one of the most vulnerable channels in an organization. Cyberattackers continue to develop more sophisticated methods to exploit the vulnerabilities of email systems. It’s your responsibility to keep abreast of security trends and keep your company’s security systems updated.

Continued education of employees through awareness programs and training sessions is also a must because email security threats are best fought with a united front. Ensure that everyone within your organization is on the same page when it comes to security and your business will be one step closer to being more robust and future-proof.

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