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4 email vulnerabilities to watch out for
The backstage of new developments often become increasingly technical and complicated. This is not a bad thing, because the ease of use often actually improves along with it. But it does make it increasingly difficult for users to be aware of the vulnerabilities of new techniques. The same goes for email.
But what are those vulnerabilities when it comes to email? We've listed the four biggest email vulnerabilities for you. Private email is vulnerable to start with, but as an organization you're even more vulnerable because of the potentially catastrophic consequences. But don't worry, we also have a remedy for you to protect against all four vulnerabilities.
Email is one of the greatest benefits the Internet has brought us. It is practically unimaginable that less than thirty years ago almost everything was sent on paper, by post. Never before had it been possible to share messages and even entire files with anyone, anywhere in the world, within seconds.
The value of protection has been known – and appreciated – since the dawn of time.
But that convenience comes at a price. Despite the numerous benefits of such developments, they often bring with them new dangers, such as the risk of a data breach. And that's especially true when it comes to email. We list the four biggest risks of a data breach for you.
1. Your employees
You might not immediately think of your own employees, but they are the weakest link. An email to the wrong person, a wrong attachment. And even losing emails with personal data. Different examples of how things can go wrong.
Fortunately, there are tools available to help your employees. But the threshold for using a tool is often high because the user-friendliness is often lacking. And that while the foundation of a good tool is usability.
Without user-friendliness, human error creeps right back in. And a user-friendly tool also improves awareness. So you kill two birds with one stone! By the way, we know of a tool that meets both requirements …
→ Read more: Why awareness is important for secure communication
→ Read more: Why usability in email security is indispensable.
That phishing is and will continue to be a problem if you don't take the right countermeasures won't surprise you. Nigerian princes can't tempt anyone into making crazy decisions anymore. And fewer and fewer people fall for screaming poorly written panic emails from a bank either.
Everyone can see this is not a real rich prince who has a few million waiting for you.
But unfortunately, the phishers themselves are not sitting still and are very inventive. They are constantly developing new techniques to get you on the hook. One of these methods is spear-phishing: A variant of phishing that targets individual, carefully selected people within an organization.
The phisher pretends to be a colleague of the victim, often a direct manager. The messages are also urgent, making it less likely that the recipient will have time to consider whether what is written in the message is reasonable.
In addition, the sheer number of phishing messages sent out every day means that someone is always going to fall for them. This makes phishing more than profitable enough for the scammers to keep on doing it.
To prevent phishing, always be and stay alert. Always be critical of clicking on links when asked to enter login information or make a payment. When in doubt, don't click, delete the email and contact the sender by other means. And also help others, such as colleagues, family, and friends, to stay alert to phishing.
Spoofing is slightly more sophisticated than phishing, but very similar. The danger with spoofing is that an email may appear to come from a particular sender, when in reality it does not. So it may be that someone or company seems recognizable to you when in fact it is not.
It can be difficult to recognize that one erroneous email when you get dozens or hundreds of emails daily.
A good example of spoofing is an email that comes from your bank. For example, the message indicates that a new debit card is waiting for you. To activate it, you must first click on a link. Once you click on this link, you are taken to a page that appears to be from your own bank, but actually belongs to criminals. In this insecure environment, cybercriminals can intercept your data and then use it to make payments to your bank account themselves.
To prevent spoofing, before you click on a link, hover your mouse over the linked text without clicking on it. Often you can then see at the bottom left which URL (Web address) will open if you were to click on it. Is that not the address you expect? Delete the email and contact the sender of the email through another means.
Malware is software that can do damage to your computer, data, and even entire systems and corporate networks. Malware often enters through emails that contain a link to a website or file. Opening the file or clicking on the link can be enough to infect your computer with the malware.
The best way to protect yourself? By taking the right measures. That goes for construction, but certainly for e-mail as well.
Typically, you don't even realize you got malware on your computer by clicking the wrong link. The page you landed on didn't load, or even looked fine. Yet that's enough to infect your computer.
How successful malware is depends on your employees. They are the ones who receive those emails, so they are actually your first line of defense. By training your employees and making them aware of the dangers, you can prevent malware from gaining a foothold in your organization.