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Email Security Checklist

Email is a necessary part of the business world, but its security shouldn’t be overlooked. When you consider that roughly 90% of data breaches are the result of phishing emails, businesses need to take a hard look at their email security. Poor email security can cost businesses big and   can lead to damages in reputation and loss in revenue. Our complete email security checklist will help you enhance your email security to protect against phishing and other malicious emails.

Enable Standard Email Security
Many email clients like Outlook from Office 365 include standard security, but businesses need to ensure the security policies, settings, and profiles are enabled and set up correctly. While the standard protection offered by many vendors doesn’t catch all malicious emails, it does provide a good baseline of security for businesses.

Limit the Number of Email Admins
Just like any application, controlling permissions and who has administrative access on your email client is critical. Administrator accounts are often targeted by cybercriminals because they have the highest level of privileges that could be used to help them perform malicious acts. Businesses should only extend administrative email permissions to users who require access to perform their jobs.

Implement Email Server Security
Keep your email server protected by implementing an Endpoint Security solution like Managed Detection and Response. Antivirus alone isn’t enough to protect servers. With evolving security threats, endpoints require a more sophisticated and proactive approach that combines advanced technology with skilled and dedicated security professionals to deliver 24/7/365 detection and response.

Use Email Filters
Spam and phishing emails can be a nightmare for network administrators to deal with. By enabling pre-delivery email filters, businesses can add additional security controls for to all emails entering the organization. Email filtering scans and categorizes emails to help reduce the number of malicious emails that are flowing into your system.

Enforce Good Password Hygiene
Email users should perform good password hygiene to help ensure their login credentials won’t be compromised. Creating a strong password that incorporates letters, numbers, and symbols is a good start. Users should also avoid making their password common words or based on personal information that is available on public forums like your birthday, age, name, etc. Cybercriminals often data mine that information to guess your password. The longer and more complex the password, the more difficult it is for cybercriminals to compromise it. Finally, avoid writing down passwords where someone can view them out in the open. Instead, use a password manager that can help keep your passwords organized and secure at the same time.

Use MFA for Authentication
Having a strong password is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to securing email access. By enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA), your login information is better protected. MFA makes it more difficult for bad actors to use stolen credentials to hack into an email account.

Maintain Access Levels
Employee attrition is just a fact of life. When an employee leaves the business, you need to immediately change their password and disable their email. Especially in the world of bring your own device (BYOD), many employees will have their work email on their personal phone. Unless access is removed, a terminated employee may still have access to email and in return sensitive data.

Users should always access their email from a secured connection. While public Wi-Fi is free and convenient, it also poses an unnecessary risk to your infrastructure. Emails over public Wi-Fi are not encrypted and can be intercepted by cybercriminals. By using a VPN, you’re creating a secure connection between your device and the internet, making it a more secure way to send email.

Don’t Include Sensitive Information in Emails
Sending sensitive information like credit card numbers, banking information, or account numbers is never a good idea, but especially if your emails are sent without end-to-end encryption. A typical email is unencrypted, which means a cybercriminal could intercept your email and use your sensitive information for malicious purposes.

Train Staff to Spot Phishing
When you consider 90% of successful breaches are caused by human error, making sure you staff knows how to spot phishing tactics is critical. By incorporating continuous Security Awareness Training into your security strategy, you’ll be able to teach employees email security best practices and test them on their knowledge with simulated phishing attempts.

Don’t Download Images Automatically
Check your email settings to ensure your email system is set to not download images automatically. Not only can downloaded images take up a significant amount of data storage, but they can also contain malicious code that can wreak havoc on your infrastructure.

Keep Email Client Patches Up to Date
Good patch management processes are important for any application, including your email client. When new patches are available, make sure to apply them in a timely manner. Since many patches often correct vulnerabilities within the system, making sure they are applied consistently can help ensure a more secure email environment.

Enable Email Analysis and Evaluation
While enabling email security filters or using standard email security can help minimize phishing attacks, they can’t eliminate the threat entirely. Studies have shown that 25% of phishing emails bypass standard email security. Implementing a solution like Managed Inbox Detection and Response (IDR) can reduce your threat further. IDR incorporates your staff into your strategy by allowing them to submit malicious emails for evaluation right from their inbox. With both sophisticated AI and human analysis, your business can reduce the impact of phishing on your organization.

By incorporating these best practices mentioned into your email strategy, your business will be better positioned to defend against phishing attacks. To learn more about what you can do to protect your business, reach out to a TPx security expert.

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