Email Security – Do You Know The Risks?

This month, as part of our Safer Internet theme, we’ve been focusing on the phishing tactic, cyber criminals use to fraudulently obtain personal information and money off people.

Cyber criminals use emails as a way of infiltrating and convincing people and organisations to part with their hard earned cash. But what steps can be taken to ensure you have a watertight cyber infrastructure when it comes to email security?

Portable devices

More and more information is sent via email. However, there are now more people working from home than ever before, and this has resulted in an explosion of people using personal devices both at home and in the office.

This can lead to data security issues, and can mean a bring your own device policy (BYOD) may need to be implemented within the firm, but ensuring it remains complaint with data protection acts can be tricky. Also ensuring all of your employees are following the procedure can also be difficult to police.

With this flexible working arrangement comes the risk that devices can be lost or stolen, presenting a real data breach risk for your organisation, especially if criminals have free reign to access your emails. A Freedom of Information request revealed that London Councils lost 1,293 devices over a three year period, and according to reports from Exclaimer 70 million devices are lost this year.

These figures reaffirm that steps need to be taken to ensure data from these devices doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

What steps can be taken to protect data on portable devices?

  • Having screen-locks on the devices
  • Password protected emails
  • Ensure you have up-to-date anti-virus and firewall software
  • Have the most up-to-date version of the software installed on the deice
  • Have the ability to freeze or remotely delete all of the files off a device

Spam

Everyone has the spam/junk folder in their emails. But how many of us look at it? Sometimes, legitimate emails are caught in these folders, but nine times out of ten, it’s just another way cyber criminals are attempting to infiltrate law firms.

Studies have shown that 14.5billion spam emails are sent every day, and as these build up it can become a risk to the organisation.

Spam emails carry the risk of infecting your devices with malware or a virus, but if your firm receives too many at the same time, it can cause you servers to crash. This results in downtime for your firm, as time it taken for the issue to be fixed resulting in loss of money – both in terms of fixing the issue and being unable to continue with business as usual.

Receiving too many spam emails, can make employees a little ‘delete’ happy. Resulting in them potentially deleting real work-related emails by mistake as they attempt to clear their inboxes. However, this can easily be avoided by applying spam filters which weed out suspicious emails, quarantining them to a separate folder where they can be deleted.

What steps can be to protect ourselves against spam emails?

  • Tun on spam filters
  • Never open suspicious looking emails
  • Train your employees how to recognise suspicious emails and what to do with one if they receive one

There doesn’t seem to be any sign of email communication slowing down. In fact, as the ‘Amazon’ effect take a firmer hold, people expect are beginning to expect instant responses via email. This is only set to get worse and gives cyber criminals more incentive to get hold of these little nuggets of gold.

As we’ve mentioned before, adopting a positive cyber culture which cascades from the top down is paramount, when it comes to growing cyber awareness in your firm.

Accepting mistakes will happen but assuring people that there will be consequences will help your firm to adopt a no blame culture.

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