We know we need to choose good passwords, following all the rules about capitalization and special characters, but how secure does our email really have to be? How easy is it to crack into an email account and what is at risk? The answers may worry and surprise you. Getting access to an email account is a treasure trove of security risk, where hackers can harvest tons of personal information that they can use for all manner of nefarious purposes, as well as using access to that account to gain access to other accounts–bank accounts and work email accounts. Plus, even if no one did anything but simply cut you off from your email, imagine everything you’d lose: years worth of correspondence and documents that can’t be replaced, plus contacts and personal information–and the ability to communicate with everyone who’s been relying on your email.
So what can you do about it?
What is Email Security?
Email security is the all-encompassing term that describes the different procedures and techniques for protecting email accounts, content and communication against loss, unauthorized access, and compromise. Email that has been breached can often be used to launch malware and spyware attacks against your contacts, as well as spam and phishing. And because they’re using your email account, and people trust you, people will be much more likely to get infected and penetrated by these attacks.
Attackers use deceptive information, and personal information, to get people to click on links that lead them to malware sites, or open attachments that can contain viruses. Email, even when it’s not going to be immediately exploited for malware, may be the first step a hacker uses to gain access to an organization and valuable company data.
The most basic form of email security is a password, but these are notoriously easy to crack if the user is not on guard with the latest technology and toolkits. Encryption is a step above passwords, and it can protect the contents of email messages from falling into the wrong hands.
How Secure is Email?
Email is as secure as you make it, but in its most basic form it’s as free and open as a system can be–and by design. Email is not intended to be a system under lock and key, but is a common, everyday-all-day communication tool that is often open continuously on a person’s computer or phone. But because of all this, it’s not very secure, and this can lead scammers and hackers to cause problems, either for profit in terms of spam, malware and ransomware, or in terms of industrial espionage. Plus, there are always those who simply want to watch the world burn and will use email to spread viruses with no other goal than to create mass chaos and destruction.
Because email is open format, it can be read by anyone who intercepts it, which is a major security concern. Because of this, organizations have been making it harder and harder to intercept emails–but the system isn’t perfect.
Email Security Best Practices
One of the first things that an organization needs to do is to implement a secure email gateway. An email gateway scans and processes all incoming and outgoing email to make sure that threats, such as malware, spyware, viruses, and trojan horses, are not let in. Initially, these gateways simply banned bad file attachments, but that’s become less effective as email criminals are becoming more effective: remember, that for all the IT professionals you have working for your company trying to keep you safe, there are just as many bad actors in the world who are trying to undo or outwit your security systems. Today, email secure gateways use a multi-layered approach.
Automated encryption should also be commonplace–standard operating procedure at a company that sends sensitive documents. Typically, encryption systems don’t encrypt every email sent, but they scan the documents for potential sensitive information, and they encrypt those emails that are necessary.
Finally, the last best practice is training the human element: making sure that your users know what is best when sending and receiving attachments, when setting up passwords, and recognizing malicious emails. The most common form of dangerous email is a phishing attack–when someone sends you an email claiming to be someone you know, often spoofing the email address so it looks like it’s legitimate. Training staff to recognize these types of attacks is essential to stopping them.
How Does a Virtual Data Room Apply to Email Security?
A virtual data room is equipped with the highest levels of civilian encryption, including End-to-End encryption (E2EE) which maintains data encryption from the moment it leaves your system until it reaches its destination, unlike other forms of encryption. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a good and necessary form of encryption, but it has its holes: Some modern hacker tools can intercept these emails, plus HTTPS encrypts and decrypts data at each pause point, not just the end destination, leaving data open to thieves. This is why E2EE is so much better, and why it is used in Virtual Data Rooms.
You can’t expect most modern data protection programs to encrypt your data over its entire lifespan, but with a Virtual Data Room–whose entire purpose is to create a locked-down, brick-and-mortar vault simulation–you can expect to find top tier encryption when accessing documents and sending emails containing this sensitive information.
Learn more about how Caplinked can help you with Email Security.