Email is so ingrained in business communication that many business users don’t realize how this indispensable tool can lead to data compromise. According to research by Proofpoint, 91% of targeted attacks, such as ransomware and phishing, start with email.
The problem stems in part from the assumption that email service providers and off-the-shelf email applications have sufficient security measures in place. Proofpoint’s findings prove otherwise.
Email systems are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks, and businesses must employ multilevel security solutions that address every weak link. This means requiring stronger passwords, enabling multifactor authentication, and conducting security awareness training. This also means encrypting data.
Here’s why your email needs encryption.
What is data encryption?
Data encryption is a security measure that transforms data into an unreadable mess. Once encrypted, data can only be restored to its readable form by users with an encryption key. Theoretically, the only way for hackers to reverse the encryption without a key is by using a large amount of computing power — a resource that is not easily available and is more costly than it’s worth.
As such, encryption has become a prime deterrent to malicious access of sensitive data, such as medical records, classified government intel, and personal credit card transactions. Any responsible security strategy shouldn't go without it.
Why is data encryption important for email?
Emails between companies and vendors are both critical and confidential. Cybercriminals can intercept these data exchanges, or they can creep into a company's email system and steal information.
But through encryption, companies can effectively lock away their data, stopping these illegal activities in their tracks. Because even if hackers manage to steal data from encrypted emails, it remains unintelligible to them.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the importance of email encryption to your business.
Data encryption protects your data from prying eyes
Like postcards, your emails can easily be read by anyone handing it. As it makes its way to a recipient, jumping from one mail server and proxy server to another, anyone with some skill can access them. Your message can be read by anyone without your knowledge.
Your information is kept safe from competitors
Businesses often handle proprietary knowledge that gives a competitive edge. This confidential information is passed along different departments and business units. Without email encryption, you risk corporate spies stealing data that has given your business an advantage.
You need to protect your reputation
Encryption can protect your company from a public fiasco. Today, information leaks and data breaches are scandals reported in news outlets and social media. They can, at worst, irreversibly damage a company’s reputation with its stakeholders. And if the data lost involves a massive number of customers, what inevitably follows is a greater loss of income, fines, possible criminal procedures, or even a senate investigation!
Customers trust you with their information
Your customers use email to communicate with you, and they assume their private information is kept safe in email. You owe it to your customers, as well as to your employees, to repay their trust with a safe way to communicate with your company.
You need to comply with data regulations
Government and industry regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have strict requirements for covered entities. Often, they involve handling and transmitting customer data in compliance with specific data protection rules.
Some of these rules explicitly outline the use of data encryption for email security. Better to comply than face penalties that often involve steep fines and even jail time.
You need to protect yourself from the costs of a data leak
Paired with a data backup and disaster recovery plan, encryption will protect your email data from illegal access and potentially save your company from massive losses incurred from a data breach.
If the reputation of your brand and the safety of your customers‘ data aren’t motivations to encrypt email, then an average of $3.92 million dollars in data breach costs for businesses should convince you.
Automated features will eliminate human error
As the saying goes, no one’s perfect. Your staff might forget to encrypt a message before pressing send. Or they may fail to grasp the sensitive nature of an email’s content. Email encryption software can take up the slack and detect critical messages and encrypt them automatically or stop them from being sent unencrypted.
If you’re like most companies, you depend on email for communication and storage large of critical business data. With online attacks becoming more and more prevalent, including spam, phishing, viruses, and malware, protecting your emails is no longer an option. At NetQuest, we can show you the business advantages of email security. Learn more about securing your data from us.
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