a-guide-to-improving-the-security-of-email-accountsToday we are in the age of hacking, and it’s not just major corporations that suffer. Small businesses and even individuals have become privy to these hacking schemes, putting their personal information in danger. One of the main targets for hackers are free email services, such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. It’s okay to use these services for your business, but it’s always smart to secure them first.

As an IT professional, securing your email is your responsibility. It can take time and money, but it’s more important for the safety of the business than you might think. According to a 2013 study performed by Yahoo! Finance, more than 400,000 Yahoo email addresses were hacked and more than 77 million passwords stolen through the Sony PlayStation gaming network. This isn’t counting the millions more passwords stolen and emails hacked across the many other free email systems because of poor security.

Unfortunately, a hacker can enter unprotected email accounts and find their way into the accounts of the business’s customers, accessing their private information. The result could put company out of business. If you want to keep your business secure, a great place to start is your email. Here are a few tips for making your company email more secure.

Use Secure Passwords

Your passwords should be strong and changed often. According to a collection of statistics compiled by StopTheHacker.com, “It takes only 10 minutes to crack a lowercase password that is 6 characters long. Add two extra letters and a few uppercase letters and that number jumps to 3 years. Add just one more character and some numbers and symbols and it will take 44,530 years to crack.” In other words, the more detailed and unique a password is, the safer your email account will be.

Set Up Email Recall

Some of the most common security breaches within a business occur when an email is accidentally sent to the wrong person. One common example of this is in the healthcare system. “Healthcare providers and other covered entities can violate HIPAA by sending an email containing protected health information (PHI) to the wrong person,” according to an article published on Virtru, a leading expert on email encryption and digital privacy. “Covered entities could be looking at fines of up to $50,000 for a single email mistake.”

As you can see, one simple email flub could lead to a serious security violation, which could potentially shut a business down. Setting up an email recall service on your email could save you the hassle. This feature can be set up as a slight delivery delay on Gmail or from a third party entity.

Install Adequate Antivirus

Oftentimes, spam emails contain viruses that have the potential to destroy your computers, your data, and corrupt sensitive files. These viruses are generally the work of hackers who wish to corrupt your data and make it available for your use.

Unfortunately, the outlook for businesses who lose data are not good. According to a list of statistics from BostonComputing.net, 60 percent of companies that lose data will shut down within six months. Fortunately, proper antivirus software can help to prevent this issue.

Encrypt Sensitive Email

Every company will send sensitive emails at some point. It’s part of keeping operations running smoothly. But failing to encrypt those emails would be a big mistake. Encrypting an email simply makes the email content unreadable should anyone but the intended recipient access the information. Learning the proper way to encrypt emails is essential to keeping company emails safe, so make sure you’re educated and doing everything you can to keep your information secure.

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