Home Advisor X Keeping Your Email Secure and Private

Keeping Your Email Secure and Private

by Zachary Price, Product Marketing Manager, Essential Security Software

We’ve all done it. Sent an email to a friend or business contact that contains sensitive information which, if read by someone else, could lead to embarrassment or financial damage. If leaked, the documents you’ve worked so hard to create could be used by a third party for competitive or financial gain. For the most part, all you can do is hope that your outbound email (and attachments) will not arrive in the in-box of a competitor or third party.

However, hope alone isn’t good enough. You wish that with a click of a button you could ensure that your email, business and financial documents could only be opened by your intended recipients. Additionally, you desire to have some control over how your information is used. Today, with new security software designed to protect information leaving your computer, you can do just that. For example, you can set controls ensuring that your email and attached files can’t be forwarded, copied, edited or printed. You can also send files that can be set to expire and become unreadable on a specific time and date.

Security software for outbound email is powerful technology, not only for those potentially embarrassing incidents, but more importantly for protecting your sensitive data and intellectual property.

The reality of digital asset theft and misuse is quite alarming. According to a recent report by the Computer Security Institute, loss of proprietary data was the third leading cause of financial damage to businesses last year, and theft or unauthorized distribution of confidential business documents cost the average U.S. business $42,000. Such theft or misuse for example, might occur when you send a proposal or original idea to someone in an effort to secure new business. That proposal or idea is then taken and used by the recipient without receiving permission from, or giving compensation to you, the original creator.

In addition, if you or your company deals with any type of personal, medical or financial customer data, existing and pending legislation such as HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Gramm-Leach-Bliley require you to implement proper safeguards to ensure your customer information is kept confidential and secure.

Following are six simple guidelines for you to easily and proactively implement a security plan to protect your email and digital assets, making you and your business less susceptible to damage caused by negligence or malicious attacks.

1. Protect Your Sensitive Files and E-mail
Email and files containing sensitive business information such as strategic plans, contracts, designs, financial or customer information, all too often spread beyond their intended recipients. Email and document security software, such as that found at www.essentialsecurity.com, works by not only encrypting the files, but also by applying access and usage privileges such as forwarding, editing and printing. These protections are persistent and remain with your files no matter where they travel. This powerful security software is not only easy-to-use and affordable, but also doesn’t require server software or administrators.

2. Regularly Update Your Operating System
Although valiant efforts are often made to write safe software, we all know that no software is ever bug-free. Hackers exploit these bugs for a variety of reasons, including fun and money, and it is critically important that your software be updated on a regular basis. Most operating systems, firewalls, and antivirus software include an auto-update feature that enables the program to download updates as soon as they are available.

3. Install Firewalls
Firewalls separate one network from another, and for small businesses they are frequently used to separate the company’s internal network from the Internet. Firewalls not only mask the identity of your individual computers, they also examine and filter potentially damaging data entering or leaving the network.

4. Install Antivirus Protection
Hundreds, if not thousands, new malware (malicious software) programs are released each month. These include viruses, worms, Trojan horses and a host of other programs. Symptoms of infection range from the annoying to catastrophic. Because viruses can slip through firewalls posing as a legitimate e-mail or program, installation of antivirus software on your individual PCs is important. Install only the latest version of your chosen antivirus program and make sure to regularly update and scan your system.

5. Establish a Backup Strategy
Periodic backups are required to ensure business continuity in case of an accident such as a hard-drive failure or security attack. Your office should backup its sensitive data with an external hard-drive or CD-ROM at least once a week and store the backup data offsite in a secure location. It is good policy for you to backup e-mail as well. Be sure to test your backup processes to ensure that indeed your data can be restored lieu of an operational failure.

6. Use Strong Passwords
Passwords are used to authenticate the identity of an individual user. Unless otherwise protected, once a password is broken your sensitive data is exposed. With free software that is readily available on the web, most passwords can be broken in a number of minutes. For good password security use a combination of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols (i.e. eR8>!tJd ). Make sure you and your employees memorize their passwords and do not keep them written down on the premises.

While the tips in this article will help you and your company be more secure, each business is unique and requires its own security strategy. Consider hiring an independent security consultant to asses your individual security situation. They will help you create a comprehensive security policy that meets your unique business needs.

As for the next time you send off that important business document? With email security software incorporated into your outbound email process, you’re taken care of. [24×7]

Zachary Price is co-founder of Essential Security Software, a leading provider of document and email security solutions.

For more information visit http://www.essentialsecurity.com

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