Part of the reason consumer-grade emails can be so detrimental to businesses is because there isn't just one risk to using them. There are a plethora of ways that these accounts can be hacked, controlled, or misused in a way that will put the company's reputation and confidential information in harm's way. Here we will discuss three major reasons why free business emails can cause issues. Keep in mind, even if you pay to eliminate ads from the otherwise free email service, you're still using consumer-grade email!
If a free email account is compromised, you have few to no resources for regaining control of your accounts, emails, and personal information. Though it may not be impossible to accomplish, the process is extremely difficult, especially if you are navigating it yourself. Business-grade, or enterprise email systems, give you more customer support and control so you can regain access to your email account.
Consumer-grade email accounts belong solely to the person that has credentials. If you have to let go of an employee, they can walk off with that email, the credentials, and any confidential information that may be within that account. In this scenario, there is no central management to control access for employees. Enterprise emails, on the other hand, give you and your IT team the power to disable email accounts and have them forwarded or re-assigned to the specified person. Additionally, this central management allows for our team to get to work on your account if it becomes compromised.
It's important to note that having an enterprise email doesn't eliminate all possibility of an account being compromised. If your boss, employees, or co-workers are asking you for unusual or sensitive information through email, it's best to give them a call and ask them if this request is legitimate. To keep confidential information or credentials safe, it's extremely important that you send that data as an encrypted email.
As previously stated, if a consumer-grade email is compromised, there isn't much anyone can do. Even if you change your password and "boot" the intruder out of the account, they likely were able to do some damage while they were in your email. They may have already emailed your contacts, deleted emails, created forwarding rules to an account they control, downloaded an offline copy of your emails, or even collected replies with confidential information in them. What's worse is that they may have done all of this and you may not even know it. Here are some examples of damage they can do while in your email:
Whether you have a consumer or enterprise email, you should absolutely be using two-factor authentication. No exceptions. This serves as an extra layer of security and is vital to keeping your accounts out of harm's way. Not only does it require a second code for login, but it also alerts the account owner that someone is trying to log in to their account, giving them time to change any passwords if the request isn't legitimate. This brings up a final warning about consumer-grade email: even if a 2nd factor is added to an account after access by a 3rd party, there is no way to kick them out of their already active session, allowing them more time to continue the damage.
We cannot stress enough the importance of two-factor authentication and using enterprise emails in the office. We have seen far too many companies suffer major damages because of unsecured emails in the office. Our goal is to help our clients invest in technology that will help, not harm them. If your business is still using consumer-grade emails, now is the time to make the switch!