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More About Email Security

You've set up secure (encrypted) email sending on all your mail accounts and updated the anti spam & anti malware software on your work computers and smartphones. So all's well?

Sadly, no. There are still many ways that people can infiltrate your email and make life miserable.

Risks

If someone spoofs your mail account (sends out spam in your name), there's loss of business reputation. It's worse if they steal or guess your email password: you could also face privacy breaches, identity theft and blacklisting of the server that hosts your website and email. Ouch.

Spam getting into your mailbox isn't just a nuisance, it can also be dangerous.

Crises like the coronavirus epidemic stir cybercriminals and cranks into frantic activity. In a single week in April 2020, Gmail blocked >240 million COVID-19 spam emails and an additional >18 million COVID-19 phishing & malware emails.

What about Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption? Unless both recipient and sender use TLS, there are 'gaps' where incoming or outgoing mail is not protected by encryption. Thankfully, TLS is becoming the norm. Google reports that over 90% of email that goes in or out of Gmail is TLS encrypted in transit as of April 2020.

Mail servers decrypt mail before checking it and storing it in the mailbox. Your own computer stores emails unencrypted too. Anti spam and anti malware scanners can't do their job on an encrypted email; neither can you. So these are also possible weak points where hackers can spy on mail or alter it (eg insert malware).

What further steps can you take to protect confidential emails? How does SuttonNet take care of your mail on our own server? Read on.

Solutions?

If you search online for 'email security solutions', you'll find a stableful. Free or paid, for large corporations or individual users, for specific mail clients such as Office 365 or for wider use. They sport helpful names such as DMARC, BIMI, TLS-RPT, SPF...

In 2020 SuttonNet researched some well known mail security technologies & products. We plan to issue a summary for clients.

Snapshot: there is a huge range of opinions and counter-views about email security. It's almost as confusing for the experts as it is for you.

For almost every software option, we read authoritative-sounding web reviews which touted it as a must-have solution. We also found articles exposing serious downsides.

No mail security software does a perfect job. If it did, it would probably be outside the financial or administrative reach of small business.

Regardless of how much security software you install, you are still responsible for behaving in a cybersafe way. That's your foremost protection.

  • Extra security might still let through some dangerous emails and/or mark some legitimate emails as spam.
  • If phishing or malware emails arrive less often, they could have a greater chance of success. Strange but true! When deceptive emails sneak through extra protection, they acquire a gloss of credibility. We can rely too much on our guardian software.

Over to you

  • Basic inhouse security procedures are essential. Try the Australian Cyber Security Centre or the ASBFEO Small Business Cyber Security Best Practice Guide. If you or your staff need motivation to take security seriously, check out some of the statistics on those sites.
  • Home based businesses can face extra risks, sharing networks or devices with users who are less savvy about or less interested in security.
  • The risks that you take impact our server and our other clients.
  • Some mail security features require professional help (by us or your IT consultant) to set up at the user's end. Many need special software and settings on our end (the mail server).
  • Right choice of product and the right settings differ for each business. Tools on our server won't operate effectively on your domain, until you tell us your needs.
  • Like your desktop spam filter, a new system might need to be 'trained'. Depending on the protocol, this can take weeks or months of attention by client and mail host provider.

Read our summary when it's available, consider your needs and contact us.

Over to us

What email protection does our server offer clients?

  • Strong firewall protection on a modern server with 24/7 support by longstanding server specialists and regular software updates.
  • Strong restrictions on server access.
  • Plesk Premium Antivirus for incoming mail.
  • Limits on no of emails per hour sent from any email address or domain (spamming typically involves large volumes of mail).
  • Fast reporting of suspected outgoing spam.
  • Blackbans on IP addresses of known or suspected spammers.
  • Option to customise SpamAssassin on individual mail accounts.
  • Options to add further protection such as DMARC and S/MIME email protocols & various commercial anti-spam/anti-malware products. We can discuss these with you after we release our report.