The importance of email data loss prevention strategy
There are multiple potential threats to data security businesses face each day. Most companies deal with large volumes of sensitive data and data loss prevention is necessary not only to protect sensitive data but also to ensure regulatory compliance.
Email is one of the most vulnerable platforms most companies are worried about. Not only do email records often contain sensitive information, but email is also one of the biggest threats to data security as it is often used for phishing and delivering malware.
That’s why every business should have a strong email data loss protection strategy.
What is email data loss prevention?
A good email data loss prevention strategy can help businesses protect against unintentional data loss, data breaches, and insider threats by monitoring email communication to determine whether data is at risk of breach or loss.
There are different methods of email data loss prevention, but they all have similar goals in common:
- Monitoring data that is received and sent via email
- Detecting suspicious email traffic and activity
- Blocking or flagging email activity that could lead to data loss
Do I need email data loss prevention?
Data loss can have various consequences. Companies that experience data losses or data breaches can suffer serious reputational damage. Data loss can also cause downtime and slow down business processes, which can not only result in a decrease in productivity but also loss of customers.
What’s more, companies are obliged to implement proper security controls under data protection laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
For example, HIPAA requires that healthcare companies have long email retention policies and keep email records for up to 7 years. If your email records end up getting accidentally deleted or altered, you can face legal penalties and hefty fines.
That’s why it’s important to have a strong data archiving strategy. It’s not something you can just leave to chance and hope it won’t happen to you. In fact, there are numerous threats, both internal and external that could lead to email data loss. Let’s see what the most common threats are.
Internal email security threats
The human factor is one of the most common causes of data loss and data breaches, and security threats actually usually come from the inside.
According to a survey done by Tessian, the majority of respondents (58%) admitted to sending emails to the wrong person, and almost one-fifth of these misdirected emails were sent to a recipient outside of the organization.
From misspelling the recipient’s address to accidental “reply-all”, and even attaching the wrong file, these accidents can lead to sensitive company data being emailed to the wrong person.
All these mistakes can pose a serious cybersecurity risk.
Misdirected emails fall into the category of accidental data mishandling. However, not all threats that come from the inside of the company are accidental.
Employees also often send company data to personal devices or to a personal email address for convenience, for example, to be able to easily access work projects from home.
Employees or contractors can also steal, alter, or delete sensitive email data on purpose. To protect your email records for altering, you should implement an email archiving solution. These solutions can help you ensure that your email records are kept safe from any changes or deletion and prevent email data loss.
That way, you’ll be able to easily access your email data any time you need it and seamlessly locate email records in case you need to present them as legal evidence.
External email security threats
When it comes to external threats to email data loss, the most common ones are phishing and malware.
The Tessian survey shows that one in four employees admit they have clicked on a phishing email at work.
Phishing is especially difficult to prevent because it’s a form of social engineering attack that relies on manipulation and tricking people to willingly hand over sensitive data. There are also subcategories of phishing, such as spear phishing that targets a specific individual within a company and is much more sophisticated and personalized than bulk phishing.
The best way to protect against these attacks is to educate your employees. You need to raise awareness of phishing attacks and teach your employees how to recognize and avoid them.
On the other hand, the second most common external threat is malware, malicious software that infiltrates a user’s device and corrupts or deletes data. Although malware is much easier to detect and prevent with anti-malware software, it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.
Over to you
Email data loss is a serious issue that can have devastating repercussions, from financial loss and legal penalties to customer churn due to the loss of trust. These are consequences no business can’t afford, so you should do anything in your power to try to prevent it. That’s why having an email data loss prevention strategy is essential.