Email Security - Definition and Best Practices

What is email security?

The term ‘email security’ covers various ways of using email safely to ensure that the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information is not compromised.

This includes following email security best practices when sending information by email and storing it in email accounts, and protecting against inbound email security threats such as phishing attacks.

Why is email security important?

There are two main reasons to enforce the secure use of email communications.

First, many data breaches are caused by emails mistakenly being sent to the wrong recipient, for instance through misusing the Cc (carbon copy) and Bcc (blind carbon copy) fields.

If personal information is compromised, organisations are at risk of regulatory action under the DPA (Data Protection Act) 2018 and UK GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and EU GDPR.

Second, most cyber attacks start with phishing emails: by clicking on a link or opening a malicious attachment, victims can endanger their organisation’s security and compromise sensitive data.

As well as implementing technical security measures, it is therefore essential to ensure that all staff are aware of the threat and know what to do to ensure they use email safely.

This reduces the risks associated with email communications and the impact of email threats.

What are the different types of email security?

Email security measures can be split into two groups: technical and organisational.

Technical measures include encryption and filtering.

Organisational measures include policies to enforce email security practices and staff awareness training to ensure employees are a strong last line of defence against malicious content.

Email security best practices

Email security best practices include:

  • Automated email encryption that can analyse outbound email traffic and encrypt it if it is sensitive. This way, attackers will not be able to read emails if they do manage to intercept them.
  • Threat intelligence to understand the latest threats and how they might affect your organisation.
  • A secure email gateway to prevent spam and malicious email messages, such as those from spear phishing and business email compromise (BEC) attackers, from getting through.
  • Security awareness training to help staff understand the threats they face, and know how to recognise phishing emails and what to do when they suspect an email is malicious.
  • Password security and MFA (multifactor authentication) policies to ensure individual email accounts are secure and prevent attackers from hacking them.

Email security solutions

ISO 27001 - the complete suite toolkit

E-mail Security – A Pocket Guide

This book covers the main security issues affecting corporate email use, considering email in terms of its significance in a business context, and focusing on the importance of effective security and acceptable use policies and safeguards such as encryption.

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ISO 27001 - the comprehensive suite

Phishing Staff Awareness Training Programme

Phishing Staff Awareness CourseThis complete phishing security awareness training programme explains how phishing attacks work, the tactics employed by cyber criminals and what to do when you’re targeted. It is updated quarterly with current examples of phishing scams and tactics to help reinforce staff awareness of the threats they face. A free monthly staff awareness newsletter also provides tips, information on the latest phishing attacks and security news.

This e-learning course covers:

  • What social engineering is;
  • How to identify social engineering attacks;
  • The consequences of a phishing attack;
  • How easy it is to fall victim to a phishing attack;
  • How phishing attacks are orchestrated;
  • How to identify a phishing scam; and
  • Ground rules for avoiding phishing scams.

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ISO 27001 - the comprehensive suite

GDPR: Email Misuse Staff Awareness E-Learning Course

Mitigate your risk of a data breach or GDPR violation by educating employees on the risks of using email, and when to use the To, Cc and Bcc fields.

This e-learning course covers:

  • What cc and bcc are;
  • Examples of cc and bcc in use;
  • What autocomplete is and why it is important;
  • Why it is important to understand cc, bcc and autocomplete;
  • Legal and business risks;
  • What happens when you misuse email
  • Case studies; and
  • Understanding what you are emailing.

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