Let’s face it – email has been around for so long that most people don’t even consider it part of IT anymore – it’s just the standard way to communicate and everyone has it, so we easily take it for granted and forget that your email requires just as much attention as your other IT assets. Yet, many businesses still rely on free mainstream email services for their most crucial business tool that hosts some of their most sensitive data.
Just like any other technology, email comes in different flavors. For a tool as important as email is for your business, you should make sure to get a “Business Class Email”, which means Exchange (over POP3 or IMAP). It is a much more reliable solution, built for extensive use across multiple devices and features to enhance your productivity. Exchange also requires you to use a custom-domain – another must for any business email, from not only a marketing and branding perspective, but also when it comes to security. Any security feature will require a custom domain.
Let’s talk about security! Email is probably every cybercriminal’s favorite tool, as large portions of threats enter the network via email. SPAM, Phishing attacks and fraudulent requests with links that download viruses – all of these are delivered daily to inboxes all over the world. So, make sure your email application has its own AV, Spam and Content Filtering, etc. (your regular PC AV will NOT scan traffic coming over your email)! Most business class email services include the very basic, but consider investing in more advanced solutions to keep your email clean and safe. Those services are fairly low-cost and should be a business basic.
The next step is to consider the information you are sending over email. For most us it is anything from reports to contracts to sensitive data, either about our business or about our clients, even for non-regulated businesses. Unless encrypted, email is not a secure way to communicate and there are many examples where hackers used the information they gathered from email communications for social engineering attacks. Often with immense impacts for the business. Every business, no matter how small, should consider email encryption.
Finally, I want to remind everyone that email is data, just like your files on your desktop or server. Unless your organization hosts their own Exchange server, which allows them full control over that data, chances are that you are using one of the large email hosting services, such as Google or Microsoft. Do you know where your data is truly sitting at? If they are down, so are you. If they lose data, so do you. Email hosting generally does not include backup or archiving, so if you need to make sure to have access to your inbox, you should make separate provisions.
There is no question, email is the most essential and powerful business tool. Make sure you give it due diligence so it continues to perform and scale, rather than turning into a security threat for your business.