Why is Email Encryption Necessary?

Privacy violations and data breaches often occur via email. Email encryption stops emails and attachments from being read by anyone other than the intended recipient and is an incredibly important cybersecurity measure for businesses.

Why is Email Encryption Necessary?

If your company has policies that prohibit the disclosure of sensitive information in emails and you are confident that those policies are never violated, email encryption is not necessary; however, if that is the case you would be in a very small minority of companies. Most companies transmit a considerable amount of sensitive information via email, such as proprietary company information, financial information, and customer and client data. If any of that information were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be damaging for the company and result in financial harm, loss of competitive advantage, lawsuits, regulatory fines, and significant to the company’s reputation.

Email is a leading source of data leaks. A 2021 study by Egress conducted in the United States and the United Kingdom found 95% of IT leaders believed client and company data is at risk on email, and 83% of companies surveyed had experienced at least one email data breach in the past 12 months. 59% of IT leaders said there had been an increase in email data leaks since the pandemic began, largely due to the increase in remote working.

Businesses may have data loss prevention (DLP) tools in place to reduce the risk of data breaches; however, research has shown that these tools are not very effective at blocking data loss via email. In 40% of cases, DLP tools failed to prevent email data breaches. With email encryption, the risk of email data leaks is significantly reduced and the interception of emails by unauthorized individuals can be prevented.

How Does Encryption for Emails Work?

When an email is sent in plain text, the content of the message, including any attached files, can be read by anyone. Emails could be misdirected and result in sensitive data being viewed by individuals unauthorized to receive that information. Emails could be accessed by unauthorized individuals at rest after transmission, and plain text emails can be intercepted in transit without the knowledge of the sender or receiver in a man-in-the-middle attack. Not only can sensitive data fall into the wrong hands in a man-in-the-middle attack, email data can also be tampered with.

With email encryption, the content of a message and any attachments are encrypted. If an unauthorized individual tries to view the message or attachments the data will be totally unintelligible. The messages can only be decrypted and viewed by individuals who have the key to decrypt the email, and those keys are only provided to the intended recipients.

How is Encryption Applied to Emails?

It is not necessary to encrypt all emails only those containing sensitive data; however, some companies choose to encrypt all emails as it reduces the risk of human error. A better approach is to set policies and enforce them through the encryption solution. Policies can be created that automatically encrypt all emails that are sent externally, or emails that contain certain administrator-defined keywords. Keyword-based encryption is useful for maintaining productivity while also ensuring that all sensitive emails are automatically encrypted. The encryption solution is configured to scan all outbound emails and apply a set of keyword rules. If any one of those keywords is found in the email, the message will be encrypted.

Alternatively, email encryption can be implemented where individuals are given a choice of whether to encrypt messages. This is achieved using a plug-in for the mail client. Whenever an email is sent, the user will be asked if they want to encrypt the message and can do so with a single click.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Encrypting Company Emails

There are advantages and disadvantages of email encryption, as is the case with any software or cybersecurity solution; however, the advantages more than outweigh any negatives. Email encryption solutions that automate the encryption of emails can ensure compliance with privacy laws such as the GDPR and the CCPA and are vital for compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA. Encrypting emails ensures sensitive data can only be viewed by authorized individuals, and this security measure prevents sensitive data from being sent to the wrong person or sent externally. The company’s reputation is protected, costly data breaches are avoided, and a full audit trail of all emails is maintained, so it is possible to see who opened, saved, deleted, or printed an email.

The disadvantages of encrypting emails include the cost of the encryption solution, which must be paid in addition to purchasing an email security gateway. The IT department must commit time and resources to manage the solution, and some encryption solutions for businesses have a high management overhead. Business emails may be delayed, and it takes additional time for the recipients of messages to view their emails. Some solutions are also difficult and time-consuming to use, so can have an impact on employee productivity.

EncryptTitan – Easy-to-Use, Automated Email Encryption

EncryptTitan from TitanHQ has been developed to make protecting email communications and preventing data loss as simple as possible. The solution is easy to implement and requires no additional hardware, it is easy to use by employees, so it doesn’t have a negative effect on employee productivity and requires little maintenance. EncryptTitan is a 100% cloud-based solution with ultimate scalability and no limits on the number of encrypted emails that can be sent.

The solution can be used to send emails to all email environments, has granular policies, allows the automation of encryption, and supports keyword-based encryption, or users can decide whether to encrypt emails on a per-email basis using a mail client plugin. The solution has robust data loss prevention policies, prevents the misuse of email, and stops employees from sharing unsecured data. Email expiry dates can be set, after which the email will be deleted, there is a recall email feature to ensure messages can be instantly deleted, and automatic encryption of attachments. All messages are protected by end-to-end encryption and can only be opened by the intended recipient.

The best way to see how easy the solution is to use is to book a free product demonstration. You can also try the solution for yourself before deciding on a purchase by signing up for the free 14-day trial.