Weekly Cyber News Updates – week 36 of 2022

Weekly Cyber News Updates – week 36 of 2022

Keeping up with cybersecurity news has become necessary for organizations and experts to engage with the community and understand the mindset of threat actors and protect themselves better. Here are the top cybersecurity news pieces of the past week that caused a significant stir in the digital community. (more…)

A Simple Guide to Enhancing Email Server Security

A Simple Guide to Enhancing Email Server Security

Emails form a central part of business communications, enabling teams to collaborate, share documents, and follow up on each other. The ease of sending and receiving messages has many benefits. However, it can also make your business vulnerable to hackers – 96% of organizations have been targeted by an email-related phishing attempt. With this in mind, staying on top of your security has never been more critical.

Your business email servers are responsible for every department and employee’s incoming, and outgoing emails. By ensuring these are secure, you can reduce the number of spam emails finding their way into your system, and identify them efficiently to prevent them from causing future issues. This means your employees can trust their emails as a channel to communicate, not spending time dealing with the risks of hackers or phishing emails.

 

Why Is Email Server Security Important?

Emails are used company-wide to prevent communication silos, schedule meetings, and share files. For businesses of any size, being hacked is a real and present danger that can delay processes, damage your internal systems, and undermine your business values. Although taking security measures doesn’t eliminate all chances of hacked emails, it significantly reduces the quantity of phishing reaching inboxes, and prevents data from being lost.

Email servers are the first opportunity to stop incoming spam emails before reaching the individual inboxes of employees. Likewise, it’s also the last chance to implement security features on outbound emails to prevent them from being hacked. As hackers become more advanced in their methods of hijacking emails, extra safety measures are needed to identify tampering with email content, and find fraudulent addresses that indicate unsafe emails.

 

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How to Secure Your Email Server

 

  • End-to-end Encryption

This feature is becoming more and more common across communication channels, including your VoIP system, and online video call software. End-to-end encryption means that from the moment an email is sent until it is opened, the content of your email is encrypted so that interceptors are unable to read it. Multipurpose internet mail extensions (MIME) apply this to all emails, preventing your private conversations from being accessed by external hackers. 

Both S/MIME and PGP/MIME services use certificate-based encryption, verifying the sender information. This means that when your email arrives with your recipient, their server can authenticate your address as the sender, proving its validity. These security features may not be available in all inboxes; however, there will be other encryption settings, add-ons, and software integrations to provide these options. 

 

  • Enable SPF

Sender policy framework (SPF) is used to ensure that the sender address is the actual sender. This checks the IP address of the sender, the server the email has been sent from, and the domain against those that are trustworthy to provide authentication. For example, if you register ae domain names for your email, your IP address should match this. If the IP doesn’t match, the sender probably isn’t a trusted source, and SPF blocks the incoming email.

SPF features can be found within your email server’s authentication settings or can be set up using external software integrations for your inboxes. Once set up, any email that fails the sender authentication will be bounced, meaning it won’t reach your employee inboxes, and it will return an error message to the sender. Using SPF ensures all the emails your business receives are from the sender they claim to be from.

 

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  • Credential Authentication

Using fake credentials is an easy way for hackers to gain the trust of email recipients, acting as someone familiar to attack your software, and business. Open relay servers are unable to identify this, as they allow emails from anyone to be received. Nonetheless, other settings are available to ensure the credentials of emails you receive are legitimate alongside protecting the credentials of outgoing emails from your business server, even on automated emailing.

Credential authentication highlights sender IDs that don’t match where the email is sent from, and fake email addresses. You can also encrypt your email credentials or use transport layer security (TLS). This ensures your email is secure when in transit, preventing the sender’s credentials from being manipulated. It also means emails from your servers are protected from being cybersecurity threats, keeping both your messages, and recipients safe.

 

  • Set Up a DNSBL

On the whole, you can recognize the servers, and addresses where your incoming emails are coming from. With this thinking, you can create a domain name systems blacklist (DNSBL) marking specific domains, and addresses to block emails from. This is also useful with repeated spam from the same sources or IP addresses, preventing these emails, and even the VoIP call from reaching your company. 

A DNSBL isn’t a literal list of email addresses but rather a software that recognizes the patterns, and uses criteria to determine spam addresses. This connects to DNSBL servers globally, checking the sources of incoming emails. The measures in place highlight domains or IP addresses worldwide that are untrustworthy or have previously sent spam, blocking their emails. As new spam email addresses, and servers are discovered, the criteria eliminates them too.

 

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  • Use SMTP Services

A simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) can be used for sending emails from your server. Using SMTP services ensures this protocol is protected, and secure. The more SMTP connections your server has, the more vulnerable it is, as there is a higher chance of hackers gaining access. Adding safety features to your SMTP limits the issues seen with open relay servers, preventing server misuse by reducing connections, and accessibility.

Whether by setting up passwords and usernames to access the server or encryption services, these avoid breaches of data, and malware attacks. This reduces the number of known accounts able to access the server, and protects those connections from hackers. Your server settings are then less vulnerable and exposed, ensuring your business emails, and data remain secure and in line with ISO compliance through the use of SMTP services.

 

  • Content Filtering

Most spam folders work by using some form of content filtering to highlight suspicious content, and remove it from your inbox. These filters scan your incoming and outgoing emails’ content, titles, and sender information, including the metadata, to find matches that class the email as spam. Generally, content filters act as a last resort after other email security features have scanned emails, matching email content to the criteria for spam. 

Email filtering services can be adapted to suit your business, and ensure the right emails are being blocked from your inbox. This can identify specific phrases, addresses, or links that are likely to be spam. However, this only reduces the harmful emails in your inbox, and can be wrong occasionally. It requires individuals to review their spam folder regularly for miscategorized emails, and approach their inbox with awareness.

 

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Email Security Best Practices

Protecting your business email server also comes down to the actions of your employees. Suppose they use their work emails securely as part of their asynchronous communication, and make wise decisions regarding email safety, even if spam emails get through. In that case, they will cause less damage. Reminding your employees regularly of email security best practices can help protect the whole business. This includes things such as:

  • Use double authentication – password protecting and using access codes to log into work emails makes it harder for hackers to gain access to internal email addresses, and information
  • Be cautious of links – especially links to unknown webpages can be malicious. Check links are directing you to where you expect, and if unsure, avoid clicking on them
  • Don’t share private information – although your server protects your outgoing emails, the only way to be sure hackers can’t use your data is not to share it
  • Respond only to known email addresses – when receiving mail from unknown addresses, always treat it with caution, and avoid responding until you are sure of its source
  • Use secure internet connections unsecured and public wifi connections can be more accessible for hackers to break into your emails, so avoid using them

 

How Can You Enhance Your Email Server Security?

Communications are central to your company, from your cloud based business phone system to your emails. Many of these suggestions work together, even across different communication channels, to increase security. The more measures you have in place, the harder it is for hackers or spam emails to make it through to your employee inboxes. This reduces the opportunity for viruses, malicious content, and data breaches to occur.

 

 

Begin implementing these safety measures, and starting the conversation around email security in your business. Once in place, each safety feature automatically filters your emails, so your server stops incoming spam emails, and protects your outgoing emails. Setting them up for your server protects every employee’s inbox from one location. Putting the effort in now stops future attacks, minimizing the potential damage of phishing, and email hackers.

 

Bio:

Richard Conn – Senior Director, Demand Generation, 8×8

 

Richard Conn is the Senior Director for Demand Generation at 8×8, a leading communication platform with integrated contact center, voice, video, IP phone, and chat functionality. Richard is an analytical & results-driven digital marketing leader with a track record of achieving major ROI improvements in fast-paced, competitive B2B environments. Here is his LinkedIn.

How to Improve Email Marketing Using Principles of UX Design

How to Improve Email Marketing Using Principles of UX Design

UX design and email marketing are two sensitive topics in the world of online marketing. No matter what sort of business you run, a user-friendly design and effective email outreach are a necessity. 

However, it is not always easy to refine and perfect these elements of your business. This is even more so the case when you consider that the Internet is changing all of the time. 

What is important is to use the seven foundational principles that make user experience (UX) design as a principle. These are as follows:

  1. Valuable
  2. Useful
  3. Usable
  4. Desirable
  5. Accessible
  6. Credible 
  7. Findable

If you can integrate these elements into your email designs, you will be on a winning path. 

 

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With that being said, below, we will take you through everything you need to know about UX design and how to integrate UX principles into your email marketing efforts. 

 

What is UX design?

Before we provide you with some tips on using UX design principles in your email marketing efforts, let’s expand a little bit more on what user experience is.

User experience (UX) design is the process of creating services or products that provide relevant and meaningful experiences to the user. 

It is about how a person perceives the efficiency, ease of use, and utility of your product or service. Using the seven ensign principles mentioned above can help you in achieving this. 

 

Is UX the same as UI design?

It is important to understand the differences between UX and UI design, as many people assume they are the same. 

UI stands for User Interface design, which is a reference to the aesthetic elements that people interact with on your app, website, or product.

On the other hand, UX is all about the experience you have with a service or a product. 

So, UI is all about the visual interface elements, such as menu bars and fonts used, while UX concentrates on every element of the user journey.

 

How can you integrate the seven UX principles into your email marketing efforts?

Now that you have a better understanding of what email marketing is and you are aware of the seven important principles, we need to take a look at the steps you should take to implement these principles into your email marketing efforts:

 

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1. Make an excellent first impression to demonstrate your value

A user is going to be much more likely to open one of your emails if the subject line is clear, hiding a solution to a very specific problem that your target audience faces.

Spend your time crafting a subject line that is useful and valuable. It should be clear that there is helpful knowledge inside, without giving away everything. Don’t go too cryptic, though; you need to generate interest. 

To help you craft the perfect subject line, which will entice people to open your email, here are five tips:

 

  1. Experiment with emojis (but don’t include 10 random ones for the sake of it!) – If you are sending emails to a young base of consumers, emojis can convey your message quickly and save space. Experian have shown how successful this is, displaying a 45 percent increase in their open rates when using emojis. However, you do need to ensure they are relevant and used in a thoughtful manner.
  2. Ask a question – The conversion between your recipient and yourself starts from your subject line. What better way to start a conversation than posing a question that users often find they are asking themselves?
  3. Avoid spam words – Spam words, such as “best price” or “buy,” need to be kept to a minimum. If you use too many of these words, you will end up in the recipient’s spam folder.
  4. Keep your subject line clear and short – When a user is scanning or scrolling through their email account, they are only going to notice subject lines that are clear and can be digested immediately without a second thought.
  5. Do not use capital letters – When capital letters are used in subject lines, it comes across as scammy. If you do feel like caps are a necessity, please only reserve this for three words at a maximum. 

 

2. Make sure your emails are optimized for mobile viewing

Next, you need to make sure that the emails you create are optimized for mobile viewing. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. In fact, eight in ten users will delete an email if it does not fit their mobile phone. 

This is because smartphones are the most commonly used Internet devices these days, having overtaken desktops several years ago.

You will find that a lot of people will check their emails while they are on the way to work or relaxing in the evening. If they open an email and it appears to be too big for the screen, with elements unable to load and buttons not working correctly, they won’t waste their time. They will simply delete it instead.

 

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The good news is that a lot of the email design tools on the market today will automatically optimize your emails for mobile use. However, do make sure that this is the case, and taste the emails to ensure that they work effectively. 

 

3. Reduce email load time

It is important to make life as easy as possible for your recipients by ensuring that your emails load quickly and effectively. If your email is larger than 102KB, Gmail will clip it. Furthermore, large emails do have a tendency to end up in people’s spam folders. 

So, what can you do to reduce the size of your emails?

 

  • Move some of your content from your email to a landing page
  • Reduce the number of custom web fonts that are loaded into the HTML
  • Avoid revealing/hiding different content for desktop vs mobile
  • Avoid using text that is baked into images and instead use HTML text, as this loads a lot quicker
  • Crop unwanted white space from your images and use padding instead
  • Make sure your images are less than 1MB

 

Just like a website, load speed is critical when it comes to email marketing. After all, people do not have time to waste. They want convenience. They certainly won’t hang around, waiting for an email to load. Instead, they will hit the back button and look elsewhere. 

 

4. Learn about the best practices for styling text

The last thing anyone wants to do is read an email that looks like an essay, with massive chunks of text. This is why you need to style your emails in the most effective manner.

Here are some tips and best practices to help you do so: 

  • Limited paragraphs to five lines or less. 
  • If a paragraph is longer than three lines, left-align it.
  • Keep the body copy dark, only adding color to hyperlinks.
  • Use bullet lists for paragraphs, with no more than five bullets so the content can be consumed with ease
  • Use your brand fonts for the headlines, and then select web-safe fonts for the body, such as Trebuchet MS, Verdana, or Arial. 
  • Add bold headings and subheadings to create a visual hierarchy. This makes your content a lot easier to read.
  • Body text should be 16px. If you drop below a 16px font size, it will make the text a lot more difficult to read.

 

5. Perfect the structure of your email

Finally, The majority of people will simply scan any email they receive. They read it in an “F” pattern, quickly scanning any of the content or images that spark their interest. If nothing catches their attention within 11 seconds, they won’t hang around.

Because of this, you need to make sure your emails are structured in an effective manner. Create sections by using big numbers, punchy subheadings, color, and images. You should also keep headlines short and break your email up into bite-sized chunks.

 

Final words on improving your email marketing efforts with UX design principles

So there you have it: everything you need to know about the steps you can take to enhance your email marketing efforts with UX design principles. 

If you have the seven ensign principles discussed above in mind whenever you design an email, it is automatically going to enable you to create something that is more relevant, enjoyable, and understandable for your audience.

 

Kerry Leigh Harrison has over 11+ years of experience as a content writer. She graduated from university with a First Class Hons Degree in Multimedia Journalism. In her spare time, she enjoys attending sports and music events.

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Struggling to get people to open your emails? Conversion rates low? Read our guide on using UX design to enhance your email marketing efforts.

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Weekly Cyber News Updates – week 35 of 2022

Weekly Cyber News Updates – week 35 of 2022

Keeping up with cybersecurity’s latest is key to avoiding becoming a victim of ever-evolving cyber threats. We are here with another weekly update of the latest cybersecurity news and incidents from around the world to help you achieve awareness and protect yourself from severe cyber threats. Here is this week’s cybersecurity bulletin: (more…)

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