Cybersecurity at work is a team sport. While your company may deploy advanced cybersecurity solutions to protect your computer, network, and other devices, the company is only safe if every employee takes cybersecurity seriously.
Unfortunately, too often employee negligence or bad habits are the root cause in data breaches or other cybersecurity incidents. That’s why it really pays to follow cybersecurity and email security best practices.
In this blog, we will explore the 10 most important email security tips for employees to follow when using corporate email.
10 Email Security Best Practices for Employees
1. Embrace Cybersecurity Training
As part of its security protocol, your business should employ regular cybersecurity awareness training for your staff, which improves their cybersecurity awareness while instilling email best practices for employees.
Your company is not only trying to protect its resources, but you and your privacy as well. Any time a company suffers a cyber attack, there are always numerous victims. These include the company itself, its employees, and its customers, so it makes sense for all employees to embrace cybersecurity training and take it seriously.
Cybersecurity training has a great impact on you and your employees personally. Your ability to recognize phishing and other malicious email will also help you protect your personal email allowing you to avoid threats as cybercriminals are increasingly targeting individuals.
2. Keep Work and Personal Email Separate
In our hectic, always-on economy, there is a strong temptation to let our personal and work lives blur together. With digital communications this is now more common than ever.
Therefore, as one of the email security best practices for employees and business, employees should keep a bright line between their work and personal communications.
First, employees have zero expectations of privacy when on corporate email systems. You don’t want your personal life or other private matters to be viewed by corporate IT.
On the other hand, it is usually a violation of company policy for corporate work products, documents, or company information to be sent on personal email accounts. The obvious best practice is to keep work and personal email separate.
3. Share Your Email Wisely
Your work email should be shared only on a need-to-know basis. It is just a good idea to be cautious about where and with whom you share.
Sending email to internal employees is among the best practices for security. Unfortunately, spam continues to be a large problem and desperate marketers the world over still harvest work emails and send unsolicited email. Being extra cautious can cut down on annoying unsolicited or spam emails.
Perhaps more importantly, you don’t necessarily want to give cyber criminals a head-start by sharing your email broadly. A little mystery goes a long way.
It is a good idea to prevent your email from being posted to public websites, where your sensitive data can be crawled, scraped, and harvested.
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4. Use Unique and Strong Passwords
Good password habits are a must. Employees should leverage strong and unique passwords for every website, service, or application. When employees reuse passwords, corporate email is often targeted.
If an employee reuses passwords, cyber criminals who trade in vast quantities of stolen credentials will target the company email systems first. A compromised corporate email can be used in any number of different criminal schemes.
A big part of the solution is to use unique passwords. The best way to do this is with a password locker service, which enables you to configure unique passwords for every site or service and store them in an encrypted password locker.
5. Leverage Multi-Factor Authentication
Another way to keep corporate email secure is with multi-factor authentication (MFA). When companies lack MFA, corporate email systems such as Microsoft 365 or Google Workplace are frequently targeted.
MFA solutions require employees to provide multiple factors of authentication, such as something you know (such as a password) and something you have (such as a one-time password generated from a mobile device).
According to Microsoft, 99.9% of credential-based attacks on email systems can be defeated when MFA is in use.
6. Treat External Senders Differently
While it seems obvious, users should be extra cautious when receiving emails from people outside their organization.
Companies can often automatically label external emails with an “EXTERNAL” warning or a colored banner. This sort of warning can help employees be more circumspect and alert to email scams or other phishing attempts.
7. Double Check Links and Attachments
Not surprisingly, malicious attachments or dangerous web links in emails are also to be avoided. If you receive an email from an unknown email address, even if it has a relevant subject line, do not open the attachments or click on the web links.
When sent by cyber criminals, these attachments or links may contain malware which installs spying software or alternatively encrypts the machine in a ransomware attack.
In other cases, cyber criminals may exploit your trust in other household brands by sending a fraudulent email which encourages you to click on a link and enter your credentials in a bogus website.
These sorts of phishing emails are social engineering attacks, which breach email clients by exploiting people’s trust in other brands or services.
8. Don’t Get Spear Phished
Cyber criminals can take phishing to another level, by tailoring their attack to a single user. This is called spear phishing. Spear phishing attacks are often targeted at company executives, admins, or people in sensitive roles such as a payroll administration or accounts payable.
These sorts of attacks will leverage bogus email addresses which are designed to look like they originate from a superior or other colleague. Spear phishing is common in financial fraud schemes, where the bad guys attempt companies to pay bogus invoices or wire funds to fraudulent entities.
Improve Email Best Practices for Your Employees
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9. Use Caution When Sending an Email
Employees need to stay vigilant on a day-to-day basis. Many employees have access to vast amounts of customer, patient, or other forms of personal information.
Many industries are highly regulated and it is unlawful or impermissible to email personally identifiable information (PII) or personal health information (PHI) without adequate email encryption.
In some cases, employees should avoid inadvertently emailing PII or PHI. Or if it is essential to the job, email encryption is then a must.
10. Secure Your Mobile Device
Lastly, employees should safeguard all the devices that they have connected to their work email. Employees are often able to access corporate email from the web, their company issued computer, or their mobile devices.
It is important that employees safeguard company email by protecting their mobile device with a passcode and avoid letting strangers or household members access their mobile device and corporate email.
Get Expert Email Security Tips for Employees From NENS
At NENS, we help companies and their employees develop a culture of security with our email security solutions. Raising the bar requires buy-in from everyone, up and down the chain of command. Email is a key threat vector and sound cybersecurity requires a united front.
Your employees’ ability to detect and therefore avoid threats is a key component to your first line of defense and is your largest source of risk. Do not leave it exposed.
For more information on how you can improve email security best practices for your business, contact us today to schedule a consultation.