Email Encryption: What It Is, How It Works & Why You Need It For Your Small Business

Email Encryption: What It Is, How It Works & Why You Need It For Your Small Business 1705 2162 Brooks IT Services

Have you ever sent a work email to the wrong person or group? 

You may have felt your heart sink into your stomach as you realized you had just sent proprietary data to a complete stranger. You can have all the legal jargon you want in the signature of your email. But will that really prevent a bad actor from doing what they want with your privileged information?

Business owners like you have never-ending to-do lists. 

And this is likely just one of the thousand what-ifs keeping you up at night. 

But what if you could entirely remove the risk of the wrong person intercepting your business communications? Well, with email encryption, you can proactively do just that!

What Is Email Encryption?

In its most basic definition, email encryption is an authentication process. When used in emails, the content is scrambled during transit. Only the sender and authorized, intended recipient have the key to decipher the message. This means that even if you were to accidentally email your most prized trade secrets to your fiercest competitor, they would only receive an email of garbled text. 

Ready to minimize the what-ifs keeping you up at night? Talk to BITS today about adding an extra layer of security to your business with email encryption.

Signs Your Small Business Needs To Utilize Email Encryption

Wondering if email encryption is right for your small business?

You should seriously consider adding encryption to your communications if your emails contain the following.

Financial Information

While you may be a small business, you may deal with high-stake financial data. Whether it belongs to you or your clients, it’s imperative for the health of your business and reputation to protect financial information. 

Trade Secrets

When discussing business plans, trade secrets, or proprietary information, you definitely don’t want it falling into the wrong hands. Keep your secret to success away from competitors and bad actors so you can continue to grow your business. 

Personal Information 

As a small business owner, your emails may contain personal information about you, your employees, vendors, or clients. If a data breach or accidental email exposed this information, it could be embarrassing and diminish any brand loyalty you have built. 

If you value your privacy and that of anyone you’re communicating with or about, it is wise to utilize email encryption. Whether your reasons for needing extra security are above or it’s an entirely different reason, Brooks IT Services can set up your email encryption. This will allow you to sleep soundly at night, knowing your communications are safe – even if you accidentally send an email to the wrong person. 

Common Types Of Encryption

You can encrypt much more than just email to protect your data and privacy. In fact, you can add encryption to your text messages, individual files, entire folders, a large volume of files and folders, or even your computer’s entire disk. To decipher your business’s security requirements, you should speak to a BITS expert about the right encryption method for your small business.

While what you can encrypt seems innumerable, there are 3 main types of encryption.

3DES Encryption

The standard encryption of the 1970s, Data Encryption Standard (DES) is no longer considered secure on its own. However, Triple Data Encryption Standard (3DES) is the modern, more secure method still in use. However, this type of encryption is likely to phase out soon. It is mostly used internally by banks and businesses. But like the original DES of the disco age, it can still be hacked and is not ideal for a small business looking for a scalable, secure solution.  

AES Encryption

On the other hand, Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is popular with governments, security organizations, and many businesses for sending and receiving classified communications. 

The recipient of AES encrypted emails must use a key to decrypt the message. This means that even if you send an email to the wrong person, the message would just be a jumble of mixed text and numbers that don’t make sense. 

RSA Encryption

Another common type of encryption is Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA). This method is widely used by people who send data online and relies on a public key for encryption. Recipients have their own private key to decode messages, and it’s proven to be secure.

However, users report that the RSA process is time-consuming. Its most popular uses are verifying digital signatures and ensuring the message’s recipient is who they claim to be. 

Talk to a BITS expert today to figure out the best email encryption for your small business. 

5 Best Practices For Email Encryption 

Now that we’ve convinced you to enable email encryption to protect your small business, let’s go over its best practices. 

1. Back Up Your Data Before Prior To Enabling Encryption

Prior to enabling any type of encryption, you should back up your data and files with an image backup. This is a replica of all of the contents on your computer’s disk. Additionally, make sure you have the operating system’s installation media on hand and create an emergency boot disk on a removable media. 

Furthermore, it’s important to back up your computer regularly. 

Need a refresher? Check out our previous blog, 5 Best Ways To Back Up Your Data Safely.

2. Create A Hard To Guess Password & Pin

When it comes to creating your encryption password and/or pin, it is crucial that it is not easy to guess. This means no addresses, pet names (of your furry friends, children, or significant other), birthdays, or anything a hacker can find through an in depth internet search. Remember, hackers are sly and computer savvy. 

Furthermore, use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Honestly, your best bet is to just close your eyes and randomly hit the keyboard. But you need to make sure you can remember your password. 

Rather than emailing it to yourself or saving it on your phone, write it down and keep it in a secure place away from your computer. After all, it would be too easy (and obvious) for a thief to look in your desk drawer.

Check out 5 Tips To Creating A Secure Password for more expert advice. 

3. Ensure Your Wi-Fi Is Encrypted & Use A VPN

If using Wi-Fi, it is very important to use Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3). It is a form of encryption that protects wireless connections. It’s important to note that WPA2 was cracked in 2017. So make sure to look for the 3! 

Moreover, you should always avoid using Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) for your Wi-Fi. 

In addition to a WPA3 Wi-Fi connection, you should also install a virtual private network (VPN). Using a VPN is especially important when working remotely. It creates a secure tunnel over the internet that encrypts all the data you may send or receive. Yes, working remotely also means checking your email while you stand in line at your favorite coffee shop. You never know when a nefarious hacker is near, and you don’t want to become a victim of opportunity. Get up to speed with cyber security for your small business here

4. Don’t Trust Someone Who Is Not Transparent About Their Encryption Methods

Here’s the bottom line: if someone is confident in their encryption method, then they shouldn’t have anything to hide. 

That doesn’t mean you should scream your encryption details from the rooftops. But, if you are working with someone and trusting their encryption method, you should be able to do a little research to ensure you are also confident in its security. 

5. Research & Know Whether An Encryption Method Is Modern, Standard, Or Phasing Out

While we listed 3 well known types of encryption above (DES, AES, and RSA), there are plenty of other options out there. And you shouldn’t trust that any and every type of encryption is secure.

In fact, you should do your due diligence to make sure that any encryption you use is secure, has not been compromised, and is not phasing out.

Brooks IT Services Helps Small Businesses With Email Encryption, System Optimization, And Much More 

Whether you’re looking to beef up your network security, utilize scalable solutions for your growing business, or anything else IT related, you need a reliable IT expert you can trust. 

Brooks IT Services works with small businesses in Houston to ensure that all aspects of their network, hardware, and software are up to speed, secure, and updated as needed. Ready to see what BITS can do for your business? Get in touch today!