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5 Dangerous Email Habits That Can Compromise Your Security

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Most organizations can hardly imagine how they would function without email. Indeed, it’s estimated that the average white-collar worker receives around 120 emails each day.

Unfortunately, not all emails office workers receive come from legitimate senders. By avoiding the dangerous email habits described below, you can greatly decrease the likelihood of your organization experiencing an email-related cybersecurity incident.

Dangerous Email Habits You Should Avoid

1. Downloading and Opening Unverified Attachments

A 2021 HP Wolf Security Threat Insights Report revealed that email is still the most popular way for cybercriminals to deliver malware, with more than 75 percent of threats being sent through email messages.

Knowing that even the most reckless employees wouldn’t click on obviously malicious file attachments, most cybercriminals cleverly disguise malware as legitimate file archives, PDF files, office documents, and other common file types.

Employees should be taught to never download and open any email attachments without scanning them for malware first and verifying they come from a trustworthy sender. For extra convenience and protection, attachment scanning can be automated at the email server level.

2. Carelessly Clicking on Outbound Links

While most employees know about the threat of malicious attachments, they often don’t realize that one click on an outbound link can be all it takes for malware to infect the entire network.

The reason why they don’t realize that carelessly clicking on outbound links can have such disastrous consequences is simple: they’re not aware of fileless malware, a dangerous threat that was responsible for 30 percent of all detected incidents between January 1st and June 30th, 2020.

Because fileless malware is downloaded from a remote server directly to memory, traditional email attachment scanners are ineffective against it, leaving cybersecurity awareness training as the most effective form of protection.

3. Sharing Sensitive Information in Plain Text

Email was originally not designed with security in mind. Over time, many bolt-on security features were added to protect its users, but they don’t change anything about the fact that sharing sensitive information in plain text via email is a big cybersecurity no-no, and there are several reasons why.

The person on the other side could actually be someone else, using various email spoofing techniques to hide their true identity. It’s also possible for email messages to be intercepted by a third party, especially when using a public Wi-Fi network. Last but not least, an attacker could gain access to your inbox by stealing your password, which would give them unrestricted access to all sent and received emails.

If you absolutely have to share sensitive information via email, then make sure to encrypt it using an encryption method like OpenPGP so that only the intended recipient can read it.

4. Responding to Spam and Obvious Phishing Attempts

Around 320 billion spam emails are sent every day, and many of them land in the inboxes of employees whose email addresses are published online, making it easy for spammers to scrape them in large quantities.

When it comes to email spam and obvious phishing attempts, there’s one rule you have to remember: never respond. By responding to spam and phishing, you only encourage the attackers to target you even further.

What you should do instead is mark all spam emails accordingly by clicking the Spam button. Doing so helps improve the accuracy of your spam filter, and it also stops you from opening malicious emails by mistake.

5. Not Keeping Your Inbox Clean and Organized

If your desk is messy, it doesn’t take much for important documents to be misplaced. Likewise, a messy inbox where unread messages from legitimate senders sit right next to spam, newsletters, and other unwanted email messages is difficult to navigate and easy to get lost inside.

When frantically searching for the right email message in your messy inbox, you could accidentally open a phishing email and download an attachment containing dangerous malware.

To prevent that from happening, you should always strive to keep your inbox clean and organized. Ideally, you want to instantly categorize all new messages so that your inbox is constantly empty unless there’s an unread message inside.

Bottom Line to Dangerous Email Habits

Despite the growing availability of business communication platforms and instant messaging tools, email is here to stay. As such, it’s important for its users to eliminate dangerous email habits that can compromise their security and lead to costly data breaches. If you would like us at TechGen to help you improve your email security, don’t hesitate and get in touch with us.

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