When it comes to your email security, it’s no secret that your biggest liabilities are those using the email: senders and receivers. The first step in taking email security seriously is to accept that the human element exists and will continue to unintentionally compromise your security.

Passwords, Phishing, and Attachments—Your Worst Enemies

According to Smart Planet, the 20 most common passwords include numeric sequences of the numbers 1 through 8 and the word “password”. Not exactly hack-proof by any means. Even in this day and age, it remains true that people will pick a password that is easy for them to remember over one that is hard for someone else to crack. It’s self-serving, it’s the way employees save time and most importantly, it’s human nature to make life as easy as possible for ourselves.

With that said, no matter how strong your password is, if you give someone your password it can no longer protect you. Phishing attempts are becoming more difficult to detect, making recipients believe that it is a genuine legitimate business email asking for credentials to enter a known website. From new Twitter follower emails, and FedEx parcel notifications to downloads that require you to re-enter your Gmail login details, scammers are continually inventing new ways to get users to divulge their passwords.

A surprising number of users can still be tempted to open attachments from sources with whom they have no previous relationship. Attachments are a quick and easy way for scammers and cybercriminals to infect a computer with spyware, malware and other viruses that can affect your computing. It’s usually curiosity or a concern that prompt the user to open the attachment. In a business setting, the potential consequences of such a seemingly small misstep can be far reaching.

Software, Protection, Education

First and foremost, all computers in any home or office need to have solid, reliable anti-virus and anti-spam software loaded on them. There is a host of products available out there and it’s inexcusable to not take this preventative measure. In addition, making sure that your anti-spam software makes use of sender authentication methods can help block the majority of spoofed emails and prevent these potentially dangerous emails from ever making it into an inbox.

Finally, you must educate anyone using your corporate email system about the dangers involved with basic email use. Remove the risks and vulnerabilities by setting up email policies that teach employees to detect dubious emails and direct them to use alternatives when appropriate or logical.

Constant reiteration of all your policies and procedures is essential in successfully guarding your email from predators. It’s easy to try to “set it and forget it” when it comes to email security. The unpleasant reality is that IT professionals need to continuously update protective software and keep users abreast of the latest risks.