This article will explain how phishing and social engineering email attacks operate, the potential security risks of opening infected emails, and 10 of the best employee email security tips you can use to safeguard your company from these common security risks.
Risks to Corporate Email Security from Opening Malicious Emails
The computer or device that opens an email message makes it susceptible to malware infection, which can then spread throughout the organization’s network.
Any virus or code specifically created to compromise computers, networks, or other devices is known as malware, short for malicious software.
Additionally, once a system infects, it can spread to other networked systems, giving hackers access to confidential data and business information.
There are many sources from which infected email messages can obtain, including:
emails that are fake but come from a malicious attacker but seem to be from a reliable source
emails that contain malicious attachments that, when opened, infect the computer
Email messages may contain links to dangerous websites that, when clicked, can infect the system with malware.
How Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks Operate
To trick you into giving them sensitive information like passwords, Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, etc., criminals use email, text messages, social media, and other communication platforms.
These attacks frequently appear in emails that appear to be from reputable sources, such as banks or credit card companies.
The email asks the victim to click a link that leads to an imposter website that appears legitimate. They are prompted to enter personal information once they are on the website, which is then sent to the attacker.
Similar techniques use in social engineering attacks. Still, instead of attempting to obtain sensitive information from victims, attackers use email to persuade recipients to take action, such as opening an attachment, clicking on a malicious link, or sending a one-time password.
As cybercriminals become more aware of how simple it is to trick people into doing what they want, these attacks are becoming more widespread.
Top 10 Email Security Best Practices for Employees
Let’s examine the top email security best practices that businesses can implement to stop the vast majority of attacks now that we’ve discussed some of the risks connected with email and how cybercriminals can use it to attack businesses and steal company data.
Although no system is 100% secure, you can make it much more difficult for attackers to compromise your systems and steal your data, putting these best practices into place.
Here is the best advice for employees on email security:
1. Don’t ever open attachments from senders you don’t know.
Only open an attachment if you know who sent it.
To persuade victims to open an attachment that contains malware, attackers frequently forge emails to make them seem to be from a reliable source.
2. Take Care When Clicking Links in Email Messages
If an email contains a link, hover your mouse over it to see where it will take you before clicking.
Attackers frequently include links in emails that direct victims to nefarious websites where malware can install on their computers.
3. Avoid responding to shady emails
Don’t reply to emails that appear suspicious or come from unidentified senders.
Attackers frequently use these emails to learn more about potential targets in preparation for hacking into their email or other accounts used for business.
4. Maintain an updated operating system and software
You can plug any potential security gaps that attackers might exploit, ensuring the most recent security patches are installed, especially on the personal devices used by your employees.
This is becoming increasingly important in our modern age of insecure public Wi-Fi and general lacking cyber security knowledge.
Maintaining strong mobile email security procedures is essential to corporate security in the current environment of online threats.
5. Never Reuse Passwords and Use Strong Passwords
You can make it much more difficult for attackers to access your accounts using strong, individual passwords for each of your accounts. Additionally, even if one of your passwords stole, the others are still secure.
The master passwords are especially crucial to protect if your company uses a password manager because if one of them compromises, ALL passwords will also be at risk.
6. Enable two-factor authentication
By requiring you to enter a code from your phone in addition to your password when logging in, two-factor authentication (also known as multi-factor authentication) adds a layer of security to your accounts.
As a result, even if an attacker knows your password, accessing your account becomes much more challenging.
7. Avoid Opening Attachments From Unknown Senders Or Clicking On Email Links
As we previously mentioned, one of the most popular ways for attackers to infect victims with malware is through email attachments and links.
Therefore, it’s crucial to exercise extreme caution when handling email messages from unknown senders, and you should NEVER open an attachment unless you are certain that you know who it is from.
8. Recognize Phishing Attacks
Because phishing attacks (and spear phishing attacks targeting a specific person) are on the rise, it’s critical to recognize their warning signs.
Misspellings, urgent language, and unforeseen attachments are a few examples. Do not reply to or open any links or attachments in emails that seem suspicious.
9. File Suspicious Email Reports
Send any suspicious-looking emails to your IT department or security team so they can look into them.
By reporting these emails, you can help other people in your organization avoid becoming victims.
10. Use a Secure Email Service
Use a secure email service that encrypts all your messages if you send sensitive information via email. Attackers will find it much more difficult to intercept and read your notes.
Getting Assistance with Implementing These Employee Email Security Best Practices
By adhering to these best practices, you can drastically lower the possibility that your company will fall victim to a cyberattack.
However, putting them into practice might a job better left to a qualified managed IT service provider.
To ensure your company is as secure as possible, pick an IT consulting company in NYC with years of experience putting these best practices into practice for companies of all sizes and offering qualified employee email security training.