Email is the number one means of information sharing inside and outside the enterprise. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the main causes of enterprise data leaks. Enterprise security leaders confirmed this troubling development, with 96% of respondents for a recent study by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), Samsung Next, and the Center for Democracy and Technology acknowledging some form of inappropriate sharing of sensitive data occurs with 56% indicating it occurs very often or often. An enterprise security operations center leader hit the nail on the head: “Most controls are designed to protect the data from external threats, leaving it vulnerable to careless or malicious insiders.”
The shortcomings stemming from legacy email protection are a key contributor to this improper sharing. As cloud migration and collaboration needs accelerate, existing email protections no longer meet the requirements of the modern enterprise. The consequences are severe. Data loss results in lost intellectual property that weakens an enterprise’s competitive standing and negatively impacts revenue streams, and brand reputation damage that erodes your customer base.
Meanwhile, governments issue new privacy laws nearly every year that make navigating the thicket of regulatory requirements that much more challenging for security leaders. For example, security teams have been grappling with how to prepare their security infrastructure and practices for GDPR, a major privacy regulation from the EU that goes into effect in May 2018. Under GDPR, enterprises that improperly handle personal data face incredible steep fines (either €20M or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is higher).
As these stakes get higher and higher, organizations must adopt email protections that shield critical business data and offer flexible controls that meet modern information-sharing requirements. But that’s not enough; organizations need to also support extremely usable workflows for end users, administrators, and recipients.
The Attributes of Effective Email Protection
Ease of use, zero trust security, and access control are foundational building blocks of an effective email protection platform.
Ease of Use
It’s essential that email protection programs fit into modern enterprise workflows in a manner that doesn’t hinder productivity. Email protections should, therefore, integrate seamlessly with existing processes and applications.
This includes the need for security to better support the collaboration between content creators and content consumers. Secure content needs to be easy to share with anyone inside or outside the enterprise, yet easily revoked if it falls in the wrong hands.
A ‘zero trust’ architecture is essential in providing the enterprise full control over who can access sensitive data within emails. All companies have critical data, whether it’s personally identifiable information, protected health information, or intellectual property, that they need to share with stakeholders. Zero trust security enables secure sharing by separating the content from the encryption keys that secure it, while encrypting the data end-to-end so that only the initial creator and intended consumer have access.
With the move to the cloud and the increasing need to share with customers and third parties, organizations must maintain visibility and control over sensitive information. This accessibility allows the enterprise to understand who can view or forward sensitive content and alter access permissions in real time as the context changes.
Email is the predominant way enterprises share information, and it’s safe to say it will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Organizations must look beyond legacy email protection solutions and overcome the limitations that leave their crucial information vulnerable. Enterprises need to focus on email encryption that offers a fresh, easier, and more secure way to protect their data.
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