Email is one of the most effective marketing tools available to small businesses.
But, as email marketing has grown in popularity, so has the number of cybercrimes associated with it.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Yearly Breach Report, there were approximately 1,862 data breaches in 2021. That’s an alarming 68% increase from 2020s 1,108 violations.
This is why it’s more important than ever for businesses to ensure their email marketing strategy is as secure as possible.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about improving email marketing security and why it’s important.
What are the Most Common Email Marketing Threats?
Before we discuss how to improve email marketing security, it’s important to talk about the most common email marketing threats. This way, you can be on the lookout for these attacks and take steps to prevent them.
Here are some of the most common email marketing threats right now.
1. Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks are one of the most common and dangerous email threats. This is where scammers send emails to trick users into giving up sensitive information like their bank account details, driver’s license information, or email IDs.
Phishing attacks often include links to shady websites or attachments that can install viruses on the recipient’s computer.
2. Spam Emails
Spam emails are unsolicited emails sent in large quantities. They are often sent by marketing companies or can be malicious. And even if they don’t contain threats like virus-infected attachments, they can still clog up a user’s inbox and can be a nuisance.
Check out these strategies to improve email deliverability and avoid reaching spam inboxes.
Spoofing is often considered to be a subtype of a phishing attack. This is where an attacker pretends to be from a legitimate company to gain access to your personal information.
Malware is a type of software designed to damage or disable computers. It can be sent via email attachments or malicious links. Once installed, malware can lead to data loss, identity theft, and many other problems.
Ransomware is another type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom be paid to decrypt them. This can be exceptionally costly for businesses because it can lead to data loss and downtime.
5. Business Email Compromise
These attacks start with scammers gaining access to a business’s financial information, which they then use to demand wire transfers from their targets.
This is often done by impersonating a senior within the company or by sending fake invoices.
These are the most common email marketing threats. Now, we’ll discuss how to improve email marketing security.
How To Improve Email Marketing Security
You can help protect your customers and business from email attacks by taking the following seven steps.
1. Encrypt Marketing Emails
One of the best ways to improve email marketing security is to encrypt your marketing emails.
This means that only the intended recipient will be able to read the contents of the email. Even if an attacker manages to intercept the email, they will not be able to read it.
This is important because many business email scams rely on being able to read the contents of an email.
The three most popular ways to encrypt your marketing emails include:
- Enterprise encryption: This type of encryption is often used by large businesses. It uses software (cloud-based applications) and hardware devices to encrypt emails.
- Asymmetric encryption: A secure but more complex type of encryption that uses two keys, a public key, and a private key. The public key is used to encrypt the email, and the private key is used to decrypt it. But, due to the complexity of this method, it’s rarely used for mass-marketing emails.
- Encryption in transit: This method involves encrypting emails while they are moving between email servers.
It’s also important to consider what ISP (Internet Service Provider) you use and consider what kind of email security measures it offers.
If your ISP doesn’t have a strong reputation for security or is prone to bugs, it can put your email marketing security and your business at risk.
2. Improve Email Security With Authentication and Authorization
Another way to improve email marketing security is to authenticate your message content. This means you can verify that the email came from you and wasn’t spoofed by an attacker.
This helps to protect your customers from phishing attacks and other email scams. It also helps to ensure that spam filters don’t block your emails.
Three of the most robust email authentication standards you can use include:
- Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
- Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)
- Domain Keys Identified Mail
Besides authentication, authorization protocols offer an extra level of security. This is the process of ensuring only authorized users have access to your email marketing campaigns.
This includes restricting access to your email marketing tools and business data to specific IP addresses. Likewise, you could also use multi-factor authentication (using one-time keys sent using an SMS message). You should also consider changing or deleting passwords for accounts of employees who no longer work for you.
Finally, you can also consider using a whitelist to ensure that only emails from approved senders are delivered to your inbox. This can help to protect you from business email compromise attacks.
3. Educate Your Team and Raise Awareness
By raising awareness and educating your team about threats, you can help to protect your business from potential attacks.
Ensure that everyone on your team knows what to look out for and how to spot an attack. You should also provide training on how to spot and avoid clicking on malicious links or attachments.
You can also raise awareness by sharing articles and blog posts about email security. This helps ensure that your team is up-to-date on the latest threats and knows what to do if they get scammed online.
Besides educating your team, you should also consider raising awareness among your customers. This can help protect them from attacks and reduce the chances of them becoming victims of fraud.
4. Keep Your Internal Systems And Servers Clean
It’s essential to always keep your data secure and confidential. For this, you’ll need to have a few preventative measures in place, such as:
- Scanning your email software routinely to look for any technical issues or viruses
- Performing internal risk audits to determine the risk levels of vulnerabilities. For example, employing an ethical hacker to assess your security strategy.
- Cleaning out your email lists from time to time to ensure they are still up to date and eliminate spam trap email IDs
- Keeping your business’s email marketing list confidential with restricted access
5. Invest in a Secure Hosting Provider
Businesses should also assess the website hosting provider or other companies they trust to handle their customer’s data and ensure that they take security seriously.
Free web hosting services available in the market, such as InfinityFree, often don’t provide the level of security that paid platforms, such as Bluehost and Dreamhost, provide.
Thus, investing in a hosting provider with robust physical and digital security measures is vital to protecting your data. They should also have a good reputation for uptime and customer service.
6. Safeguard Your Remote Employees With A VPN
If you have remote workers who use public Wi-Fi networks, you should also consider using a VPN to improve email marketing security. This is because public networks are usually unsecured and are often used to launch cyber attacks on businesses.
A VPN can help to protect your company’s internal resources by encrypting your remote worker’s internet connections. This makes it much more difficult for attackers to intercept and steal your business’s data.
In addition, a VPN can also help to improve a user’s privacy by hiding their IP address. This makes it more difficult for attackers to track a person’s online activity and target them with attacks.
With this secure VPN approach, email marketing tools and back-end system data will be inaccessible to those not using your business’s VPN.
7. Become GDPR Compliant
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new EU data privacy law that came into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR applies to any company that processes the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where the company is located.
Under the GDPR, companies must take steps to protect the personal data of EU citizens from unauthorized access.
Even though it can be a challenge to become GDPR compliant, it’s still worth it for the long-term benefits. Not only will it help to protect your customers’ data and set a good precedent for data privacy, but it will also improve your company’s reputation.
Some of the most important and best email marketing practices you should use to become GDPR compliant include:
- Auditing your current data processing activities
- Obtaining explicit consent from customers before collecting, using, or sharing their data
- Appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO)
- Creating a data retention policy
- Using subscription processes that involve using a double opt-in and easy opt-out features
- Providing your subscribers the right to the erasure of all the data associated with that person upon request in your databases
Choosing Reliable and Secure Email Marketing Tools
There are many different email marketing tools available on the market, but it’s important to choose one that is secure and trustworthy.
Wishpond is an example of a solid tool with many email marketing security features.
It encrypts all data in transit using SSL and stores data on servers in secure data centers. Additionally, Wishpond has several security measures to stop unauthorized access to users’ data.
Plus, it’s one of the most uncomplicated drag-and-drop email builders on the market. It also allows users to create desktop and mobile-friendly emails without using HTML.
So, if you’re looking for a reputable email marketing tool to improve your email marketing security, Wishpond is an excellent option.
Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your customers and promote your business. But it’s important to ensure that your email marketing security is up to par.
We recommend a comprehensive, proactive strategy to ensure you protect your business, staff, and customers from email attacks. This involves using software, such as VPNs and secure email marketing tools, hardware for email encryption, and education to keep email users up-to-date with knowledge and best practices.
By following these tips, you can help to protect your business from common cyber threats and ensure your company’s data is always safe.
Irina Maltseva is a Growth Lead at Aura and a Founder at ONSAAS. For the last seven years, she has been helping SaaS companies to grow their revenue with inbound marketing. At her previous company, Hunter, Irina helped 3M marketers to build business connections that matter. Now, at Aura, Irina is working on her mission to create a safer internet for everyone. To get in touch, follow her on LinkedIn.