Common Email Privacy Issues

Business users often assume their email inbox is private as it can contain very sensitive business and personal information. Unfortunately, email is a very common attack vector for cybercriminals, and it is relatively easy for an unprotected or inadequately protected email system to become compromised. Email is also inherently not very private—for every email, a copy is stored on the sender’s computer, the recipient’s computer, and on the internet service provider’s server.

Email privacy solutions work to intercept and block malicious email from reaching the end user, thereby preventing clicks on malicious links or sharing of confidential information. These software suites work by both helping stop malicious email and protecting valid email with encryption.

Email Encryption

Email privacy software uses encryption to protect inbound and outbound messages. Encryption uses cryptographic keys—complex mathematical formulas—that identify a sender and are very difficult for a would-be imposter to duplicate. These keys are used to facilitate a secure “handshake” between sender and recipient that identifies both parties as authentic.

N-able Mail Assure employs TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption to complete this process. This technology works to create a nearly-instant and secure connection while incoming and outgoing email is checked for spam by the Intelligent Filtering & Protection Engine.

Secure Email Monitoring

It may seem counterintuitive, but monitoring email is an important part of keeping it private. Of course, the email should be monitored by an objective software system which is able to detect spam and malicious attacks. This system can then alert an administrator when unusual trends are discovered.

N-able Mail Assure monitors incoming and outgoing email with its Intelligent Protection & Filtering Engine, an algorithmic pattern recognition system that can analyze millions of emails and identify potential bad behavior for further scrutiny. This security layer helps maintain email privacy by keeping threats away from users that could compromise the system.

Email Authentication Technology

There are several standard email authentication technologies that have been in place for quite a while—DMARC, DKIM, and SPF. DMARC is an authentication policy and reporting protocol built on the two authentication methods: DKIM verifies the authenticity of the message’s sender and that the message content has not been altered, while SPF verifies the authenticity of the message envelope’s sender.

Standard email systems use DMARC to verify that a sender is authentic. However, that technology does not actually encrypt the contents of email. That work is typically handled by other protocols, such as TLS.

Make Email More Secure

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I keep file transfers private with email?

How can I keep file transfers private with email?

Although email providers can usually help ensure attachments are not altered in transit, it may be difficult to prevent them from being read by third parties. Emails can be forwarded, so the sender has no way to limit ultimate access. Many email services do not offer end-to-end encryption, so they are not safe for very sensitive documents, such as legal and financial files. In these cases, it is best to use a private file transfer system where the file is encrypted locally upon upload to a server. The recipient is then given an access key (such as a unique, one-time link), allowing them to decrypt the file locally after downloading from the server.

How does GDPR affect email?

How does GDPR affect email?

The General Data Protection Regulation, a major piece of privacy legislation in the EU, highly regulates the sharing of personal information by businesses, which can include the use of email.  Companies must use appropriate “technical” measures to protect against “unauthorized or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage.” Email encryption is one such technical measure that can help you safely send personal information (including customer information) by email and avoid violation of the law and potentially large fines.

The GDPR also restricts data storage to “no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed,” which can have implications for businesses’ email retention policies. Also, businesses must be able to erase (in most cases) personal data upon request from a covered individual, including emails—and that may require the use of a vendor that supports this capability.

What types of email attacks are most common?

What types of email attacks are most common?

Cyber criminals use email to threaten networks in a variety of ways. They most commonly attempt to exploit human error by posing, for example, as a supervisor or major vendor with whom users would want to cooperate. They may also try to spoof a legitimate email address, which could look very authentic to a user.

Some criminals may also attempt to inject malware, including ransomware. These more advanced attacks can spread throughout a network if left undetected. Fortunately, market-leading email security solutions are usually able to detect both types of attacks and help prevent end users from interacting with them.

What steps can make email more secure?

What steps can make email more secure?

Administrators can take several steps to make email more secure and private, even though by design it is not a very secure medium. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a best practice for any part of a network. This step will require users to authenticate with a code each time they log in, such as via a text message sent to their mobile device. Although slightly inconvenient, this step helps to stop would-be hackers from taking over an employee’s account and phishing from their email address.

Users can also employ some email best practices of their own, such as limiting forwarding and only sending attachments that do not contain sensitive information. Administrators may also require confirmation for any emails sent to external users so that users do not accidentally send internal information to external parties.

Email Privacy Issues That Your Business Might Have

Email Privacy Issues That Your Business Might Have

The risk of a breach of email privacy is now greater than ever before. Find out more and read the article on our blog.

Keep your business secure with email privacy software

  • Encrypted with TLS
  • Help stop malware with the Intelligent Protection & Filtering Engine
  • Spot trends with custom reporting and quarantine