When it comes to security measures and data encryption, it is folly to assume that the discussion revolving around this topic is hype. The concept of encryption for email messages, sensitive data, and other communications sent through a device or app is not promotion on behalf of security software providers or security analysts. Encryption measures for any type of digital message are important because it protects against phishing attacks and other malicious attempts to gain access to data and/or networks.
Why is Email Encryption Important?
Email encryption services seek to encrypt, or disguise, the content within an email message to protect any potentially sensitive information contained within. The goal is to ensure that the information within the email message is only readable by the intended recipient. As a piece of the encrypted email puzzle, authentication is included to ensure access to the data within is restricted to only the individual the email was intended for when sent.
There are a wide range of reasons why communications in an email message should be encrypted. On a basic level, encrypted email ensures that sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, login credentials, and bank account numbers are protected. More importantly, encrypted email can help secure web-based email like Microsoft Outlook or any enterprise email system. Encryption enhances cyber security for the entire system by blocking hackers from gaining unauthorized access to email accounts. Without encryption, an email message can allow hackers a backdoor into the system that enables access to attachments and content, and even give hackers the power to hijack an email account.
Why Should You Encrypt Your Email?
Email encryption is important because it controls access to and secures sensitive data that can be transmitted in each message. Email is particularly vulnerable to security issues because messages are often sent over a variety of networks, including unsecured, public Wi-Fi and even loosely-secured private Wi-Fi networks. Even a robust, secure company network is vulnerable to email hacks that. Hackers target email communications to intercept the contents of the message. Plain text emails are easily read by anyone, regardless of whether that person was the intended recipient or not. With secure email encryption, individuals and enterprise systems render the contents of the message unreadable as the email is sent from origin to destination. In this event, even if someone intercepts a message, encryption ensures it is unreadable and no attachments are accessible.
How Do You Know Your Email was Encrypted?
One of the easiest ways to tell if an email is encrypted is the issuance of a key. A key allows an email to be encrypted by the sender and decrypted by the recipient. Public or private encryption keys are available to help secure email data and ensure secure access only for the intended reader. Without the key, access to the email content is blocked and it is not possible to decrypt the email. A public key is an access certificate that is available to a broader group within a company, while a private key is kept private to a sender and recipient or smaller group within an enterprise.
There are other forms of encryption protocols available that ensure privacy and security for email senders. These protocols ensure that businesses and individuals can send encrypted messages with confidence and know that the content is secure:
- Identity-based encryption
- Mail-session encryption
As you login to your web-based email service, another easy way to determine if the link between a web server and browser is secure is notable by the web address starting with “https” rather than just “http.” The presence of that “s” tells you SSL encryption is in place.
How Can You Secure Your Email?
Using message encryption is important for any email service, personal or business. While turning to an encrypted email service can help keep data private and secure, there are other security steps that any individual can take to ensure that plain text in any email message remains safe. For example, the following three steps can be taken by any web-based email user to ensure security with email encryption:
- Strong passwords: every email user should use strong passwords as the first line of defense that include a mix of letters and numbers, lack recognizable words or phrases, and feature punctuation, symbols, and combined capital and lowercase letters.
- Use tough security questions: security questions offer an added layer of defense beyond passwords. In the event a password is compromised, security questions offer another security step. Pre-selected questions are used on most sites, but are not ideal. If you use them, use false answers to each and keep a record of your answers. If you can, create your own obscure questions and answers.
- Trust secure email services: Secure Socket Layers, or SSL, is the standard for email encryption. SSL creates a secure link between a web server and a browser.
PGP and S/MIME are two forms of message encryption you can use to secure emails. These require the sender and recipient to have security certificates on devices and a public key to access the content of the message. Of course, one of the best ways to ensure your email is encrypted is the use of a private, secure email service.
How Do You Send an Encrypted Text?
As mentioned above, plain text can be encrypted in email messages using protocols such as PGP and S/MIME. These protocols encrypt the text in an email message so that it cannot be read without the public key to decrypt the message. Even it is intercepted and printed out by a hacker, the text of the message remains encrypted. What about text messages though? Can encrypted texts be sent?
Business is done via many mediums in the modern era that go well beyond email. This includes communicating about business matters using text messages on smartphones. Apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram help encrypt the messages being sent from one person to another, while programs such as Signal allow you to encrypt messages from your chosen messaging app already installed on a mobile device.
How Do You Encrypt an Enterprise Email?
Enterprise email systems such as Microsoft Outlook offer email encryption that provides security for data in enterprise email communications. When the plain text in an Outlook email is encrypted, the readable text becomes a scrambled cipher text. Only a private key allows the reader to decrypt the message. In the case of Microsoft Outlook, two encryption options are supported:
- S/MIME – both the sender and the recipient must have an email application that supports S/MIME standard.
- Office 365 Message Encryption – the sender needs to have office 365 message encryption
While Office 365 is a popular solution for many businesses today, we would recommend a more secure email encryption solution. You can learn more about what we would recommend here.
How Do You Protect Your Mobile Data with Encryption?
Mobile device manufacturers often promote the use of lock screens with personalized keys, fingerprint scanners, and facial recognition. While this is an important part of security for a mobile device and the data contained on it, it is not the same as encryption. These security measures are designed to block access to the mobile phone, but if hacked, the mobile data on the device is still at risk. Learn more about Multi-Factor Authentication or security here.
Android and Apple devices both have data encryption options for the information contained on the device itself. Data encryption on a mobile device makes the information unreadable in the event that the lock screen is compromised or the device is stolen.
Should You Send Personal Emails from Your Business Account?
In most cases, sending personal emails from a business account is not advisable. Employers typically establish policies and guidelines for the user of internal network resources, including the email system used for the business. An Acceptable Use Policy, AUP, outlines what types of communication are and are not allowed via network resources. Additionally, most employers would insist on company business not being conducted over personal email. A web-based, personal email address might not have the same stringent security measures and security protocols in place to protect the data included within the emails.
Why is this Useful?
Email encryption is useful because it allows individuals to communicate through personal and business email with confidence knowing that the data within is secure. Email security is particularly important in enterprise settings because it protects sensitive data related to business operations. The best approach for most users is to encrypt all message so that in the event of any security breach, hackers are faced with too much information to try and overcome and have no idea which emails are worth trying to decrypt or otherwise decipher.
Avatara CompleteCloud includes encrypted email that all users can take advantage of for communications. This secure form of communication encrypts all emails to protect your inbox from all external threats. Email is something that all companies rely on, even if it is just for internal communication. Knowing the importance of information security through email encryption and actually taking advantage are different things.
CompleteCloud email encryption protects an enterprise network and email inboxes. This ensures secure collaboration for team members internally and with clients externally. CompleteCloud encrypted email takes the work and worries out of the hands of the enterprise, delivering benefits that include:
- User-friendly interfaces that are easy to use while still providing robust security
- Optimal security integrates with other security features on your network to close any gaps in security
- For companies in medical and financial industries, encrypted email ensures compliance standards are met
Encrypted email also secures the integrity of your inbox. Hackers can use non-secure email networks to hijack an entire inbox and that could lead to big problems for the individual user or an entire business. With encrypted email, businesses enjoy a safe, secure environment so business communications can continue. External threats are kept at bay and productivity remains high as email services enjoy optimal uptime. There’s no need to let potential gaps in security exist in email inboxes. There are encrypted email solutions available that protect your data and the reputation of your brand.
If you’d like to learn more about our multi-layered approach to cyber security and why we’re the most secure private cloud solution on the market click here or sign up for a cyber security assessment below.