Ever since the disruption of established work routines by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, organizations have been actively exploring, implementing, and using modern communication tools to tackle the challenges associated with the transition to remote work.
But even in the era of Zoom meetings and Microsoft Teams conferences, email is still where most business is taking place. Cybercriminals are aware of this, and the growing number of email attacks confirms that email security is still as relevant as ever in 2021.
Email Security Remains a Top Priority
Over 300 billion emails were sent every day in 2020, and the number is expected to reach 347.3 billion in 2023, according to data published by Statista.
There are many reasons why more emails are being sent than ever before. Mobile devices have made it incredibly easy for people to open their emails anywhere and at any time, while the explosion of SaaS business tools has resulted in an equal explosion of notifications and alerts.
More importantly, email is both instantaneous and unintrusive. Unlike instant messaging applications or audio and video chatting software, email doesn’t force its users to respond immediately, allowing them to remain productive and deal with their inbox when they have time to do so.
For these and other reasons, email is still a dominant form of communication, and things will almost certainly remain this way even in the future. That’s why email security must be every organization’s top priority. The only problem is that keeping employees’ inboxes secure has never been more difficult.
Understanding Current Email Security Challenges
Protecting employees from dangerous email messages has never been easy, but the coronavirus pandemic increased the difficulty of this task tenfold.
New Attack Vectors
Covid-19 accelerated the shift to remote working, with millions of previously office-bound employees suddenly working from their homes and various other remote locations. This massive migration of people and their electronic devices outside the closely guarded enterprise network has created many new attack vectors, which cybercriminals quickly took advantage of, launching targeted nearly half a million spear-phishing email attacks between March 1 and March 23 alone last year.
Working during a pandemic is stressful to say the least, and many employees are not as focused as they would like to be because they worry about the health of their family and friends, are exposed to an endless barrage of bad news, and have to navigate sometimes confusing containment measures. The fatigue they feel makes them more vulnerable to cleverly disguised social engineering attacks as well as common email spam.
Move to the Cloud
Most organizations have had to move key business processes to the cloud in order to remain operational during the pandemic, implementing a plethora of new tools that rely on email for authentication purposes. Depending on their implementation, such tools can create wide security gaps, opening up the potential for data breaches.
How to Increase Email Security
Overcoming these challenges requires a multi-pronged approach that encompasses all key elements of email security, including:
- Active phishing/spam detection: All employees make mistakes, so relying only on their ability to notice phishing emails and spam messages is not advisable. Fortunately, there are many highly effective phishing/spam detection software solutions that can proactively check emails and get rid of those that are part of an email attack strategy.
- Access control and password policies: Even in 2021, weak passwords remain one of the biggest sources of data breaches. Employees should be required to use only strong passwords and adhere to access control best practices.
- Security awareness training: Cyber threats evolve at a rapid pace, and even more cybersecurity-minded employees are unlikely to recognize each and every threat they can possibly encounter. Security awareness training can greatly improve employees’ ability to recognize email-based attacks while there’s still enough time to avoid them, which is why it should be performed on a regular basis.
If you’re not sure how to implement these key elements of email security, you should employ the services of Aligned Technology Solutions. As cybersecurity specialists, we understand the current email security challenges and know how to protect your organization against ever-evolving email threats. Contact us today and let us increase your email security while you continue focusing on your core business.