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Top 10 Email Security Best Practices for 2023: Protect Your Communications

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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    The Basics: Understanding Email Security and its Importance

    What is Email Security?

    Email security refers to the collective methods, technologies, and best practices that help protect email accounts, content, and communication from unauthorized access, loss, or compromise. It encompasses measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of email data.

    Why is Email Security Important?

    In today's digital world, email is a critical communication channel for personal and professional use. It's also a prime target for cybercriminals, who exploit email vulnerabilities to launch phishing attacks, spread malware, and steal sensitive information. In fact, 60% of small businesses close within six months of being hacked, which demonstrates the devastating impact of poor email security. Implementing strong email security practices is essential for safeguarding your personal data, business assets, and reputation.

    In this updated guide, we outline the top 10 email security best practices to help you safeguard your personal and business communications.

    1. Use Strong, Unique Passwords

    Creating strong, unique passwords for your email accounts is the first line of defense against unauthorized access. Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters to make your passwords difficult to guess or crack. Avoid using personal information, and never reuse passwords across multiple accounts. Consider using a reputable password manager to generate and store complex passwords securely.

    2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

    Enable 2FA for your email accounts to add an extra layer of security. This requires users to provide a second form of identification, such as a fingerprint or a code sent to a mobile device, in addition to their password. With 2FA enabled, even if your password is compromised, attackers will have a harder time gaining access to your account.

    3. Be Vigilant Against Phishing Attacks

    Phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect. According to a Kaspersky phishing report, the number of phishing attacks doubled to reach over 500 million in 2022. Always scrutinize the sender's email address, the content, and any links or attachments in emails you receive. If something seems suspicious, do not click on links, open attachments, or provide any personal information. Instead, report the email as phishing or contact the sender through a known, trusted channel to verify its authenticity.

    4. Encrypt Sensitive Emails

    Encrypting your emails ensures that only intended recipients can read the message content. Virtru offers email encryption services that seamlessly integrate with popular email platforms like Gmail and Outlook, making it easy to protect sensitive information without disrupting your workflow. By using Virtru, you can confidently share sensitive data, knowing that it remains secure from unauthorized access.

    5. Regularly Update Software and Systems

    Outdated software and operating systems can expose your devices to security vulnerabilities. Regularly update your email client, antivirus software, and operating system to ensure you have the latest security patches. Turn on automatic updates where possible to stay protected against emerging threats.

    6. Implement a Company-Wide Email Security Policy

    Create and enforce a comprehensive email security policy for your organization that outlines the best practices and protocols for email usage. As we highlighted in our blog about data security statistics, 53% of organizations have over 1,000 sensitive files open to every employee, and on average, every employee has access to 17 million files (Varonis). This underscores the importance of having a robust email security policy in place. 

    Your policy should include guidelines on password management, handling sensitive information, and how to identify and report potential phishing attacks. Regularly train employees to ensure they understand and follow these best practices.

    7. Use Secure Wi-Fi Connections

    Always connect to secure, password-protected Wi-Fi networks when accessing your email. Public Wi-Fi networks can be easily compromised, allowing attackers to intercept your email communications. If you must use a public Wi-Fi network, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your connection and protect your data.

    8. Monitor and Control Access to Email Accounts

    Regularly review and manage the access permissions of your email accounts. Remove access for users who no longer need it, and restrict the use of shared mailboxes. Implementing the principle of least privilege helps reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information.

    9. Create and Test an Incident Response Plan

    In the event of a security breach, having a well-defined incident response plan can help minimize damage and ensure a swift recovery. Develop a plan that outlines the steps to take when a breach occurs, including how to detect, contain, and resolve the incident. Regularly test and update the plan to ensure its effectiveness.

    10. Regularly Back Up Your Email Data

    Regularly backing up your email data helps ensure that you can recover critical information in the event of a cyberattack, accidental deletion, or system failure. Cloud storage services make it easy to backup, and for those with extra regulatory concerns, there's no excuse, as there are compliant services available. Use a secure, encrypted backup solution to protect your data, and periodically test your backups to confirm that they can be successfully restored.

    Stay Secure with Virtru's Email Security Solutions

    By following the 10 email security best practices mentioned in this article, you can significantly minimize the risk of cyber threats and protect your personal and business communications. However, email security is an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance and adaptation to new threats and technologies.

    Virtru's email security solutions offer comprehensive protection against common email threats and help you easily implement these best practices. With Virtru's end-to-end encryption, access control, and data loss prevention features, you can confidently secure your email communications and safeguard your sensitive information. Start your journey to better email security: Book a demo with Virtru today.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    What are the most common email security threats?

    The most common email security threats include phishing attacks, malware infections, business email compromise (BEC), spam, and unauthorized access to email accounts.

    How can I ensure my emails are encrypted?

    Using an end-to-end email encryption service like Virtru ensures that your emails are encrypted during transit and at rest. This protects your sensitive information from being intercepted or accessed by unauthorized parties.

    How do I recognize a phishing email?

    Phishing emails often appear to be from legitimate sources but contain malicious links or attachments. Be cautious of emails with a sense of urgency, requests for sensitive information, poor grammar, or spelling errors. Additionally, verify the sender's email address and hover over links to check their legitimacy before clicking.

    How can I secure my email on a mobile device?

    To secure your email on a mobile device, use strong and unique passwords, enable multi-factor authentication, update your device's operating system and apps regularly, and use a secure email app like Virtru's mobile application.

    What should I do if I suspect my email has been compromised?

    If you suspect your email has been compromised, change your password immediately, enable multi-factor authentication, review your account for unauthorized activities, and contact your email provider for assistance. You can also consider using a comprehensive email security solution like Virtru to enhance your email protection.

    Editorial Team

    Editorial Team

    The editorial team consists of Virtru brand experts, content editors, and vetted field authorities. We ensure quality, accuracy, and integrity through robust editorial oversight, review, and optimization of content from trusted sources, including use of generative AI tools.

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