If you’re like most businesses, your organization relies heavily on emails to exchange information with colleagues, patients and other healthcare organizations. And with the proliferation of devices, email isn’t just accessed on computers anymore, but also on smartphones, tablets and even watches.
Is My Email Secure?
While all of this can be highly convenient, it also makes email a prime target for hackers and other cyber-criminals who want access to your data and systems. Knowing all of this, it’s only logical if you’re asking the question, “Is my email secure?”
Of course, if you have any suspicion whatsoever that your email might be compromised, you need to take action right away. The first thing you need to do is change your password. After that, you should run a full-system anti-virus scan on all the devices you’ve used to access that email. A good anti-virus or malware program will automatically quarantine any threats for you. Once any threats have been quarantined, you should send out a warning email to your contacts, since their email accounts might have been compromised too. And if you’re not 100 percent sure you have been able to contain the threat, you’re best advised to contact a cybersecurity specialist.
How to Keep Your Business’s Emails Secure
To answer the question of how to keep your business’s email secure, there are two factors to consider: physical access and online — or virtual — access. Let’s take a closer look at each:
Physical access is an often-overlooked issue when it comes to email security. Malicious insiders — people such as employees, patients and providers who are looking to exploit your organization’s data or gain access to organizations you do business with — will often try to gain access to your email. If your computers or devices are left unattended and unsecured, they’re easy prey. Here’s what you can do about it:
- Restrict access to your organization’s computers, especially those that store sensitive data: For example, you should keep computers that store patient data in an area that can only be accessed by staff, in order to be HIPAA-compliant. Make sure this area is locked when your facility isn’t open. Moreover, adjust each computer’s settings so it requires a password to start up or come out of sleep mode and require your staff to log out of their email accounts when they’re not at their workstations. This makes it more challenging for unauthorized users to gain access to your organization’s email accounts.
- Establish a security protocol for your staff’s devices if they use them to access their work email accounts: Just like with desktop computers, make sure all mobile devices require a password to get past the lock screen. In addition, adjust the settings on the devices so they can be locked remotely if they’re lost or stolen. This can go a long way in helping to keep cybercriminals out of your organization’s email.
When it comes to how to secure email, online access is a major concern. After all, it’s often difficult to know your email has been compromised and a breach has occurred as a result — in which case it’s often too late to contain the damage. That’s why you need a robust security plan for your organization’s emails. Here’s what you need to know:
- Make sure SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is enabled on desktop and mobile devices: If you’re using webmail, make sure the URL begins with “https” instead of “http.” If this is the case, the browser is secure.
- Use encryption to send and receive emails: This means the email can only be read by the sender and recipient of the email. For other people viewing it, it will look like a scrambled message. Some email providers like Google automatically encrypt all messages, but with other services like Microsoft’s Outlook, you have to choose to encrypt messages in the Trust Center Settings. On a smartphone, you can do this in the phone’s settings.
- Educate your employees about best practices for email security: Require strong passwords that are changed on a regular basis. Employees should also know not to share their login credentials with others or keep them on a note by their computer. When you consider that one in every 131 emails now contains malware — malicious code that compromises your computer or device so hackers can gain access to your data — it’s clear that raising awareness about phishing and other tactics can greatly help in the effort to keep your email secure. Phishing is a cybercrime tactic that involves sending emails that look legitimate but contain links to malicious websites or attachments. If the user clicks the link or downloads the attachment, malware is installed on the computer or device and hackers can gain access. For this reason, teach your employees to never click on links or download attachments from untrusted sources.
- Use cloud faxing services to keep email attachments secure: A reliable cloud-based fax service such as ReplixFax from Softlinx offers a secure, encrypted and HIPAA-compliant way to send and receive sensitive data such as patient files and other information.
Email Security: An Ongoing Endeavor
Cybercriminals are becoming ever more sophisticated and they’re finding more and more ways to target health organizations of all sizes. For this reason, it’s critical that you stay abreast of developments in the cybersecurity space or work with service providers who can do this for you, so you can concentrate on your core business objectives.
Say “goodbye” to risky email attachments. To learn more about converting to HIPAA-compliant cloud-based fax services, fill out our contact form or call 800-899-7724. Our experts are standing by to schedule a live demo and answer any questions you might have about how your organization can benefit from cloud-based fax services.
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