The topic of email security is all too frequently in the news. On September 22, 2016, the story broke that data associated with 500 million Yahoo! email accounts had been stolen in 2014.
There are many reasons why hackers spend their time trying to infiltrate email servers and email clients. Sometimes it’s to steal intellectual property. Other times it’s to steal physical property. It can even be for the purpose of influencing public opinion about a political candidate or another type of public figure.
For a company that makes the decision to use a cloud-based email and data storage system such as G Suite, what are the assurances that company email and other data is not only secure from outside attackers, including those that rely on users clicking something they shouldn’t?
Google has published a 23 page document called Google for Work Security and Compliance Whitepaper. Unless you’re an IT professional, the details in this whitepaper may make your eyes glaze over — but it’s still worth skimming through the pages to understand the overall scope of the security effort.
Based on the whitepaper, here’s just a small sampling of what it takes for a cloud vendor to secure email and other customer data.
A Culture of Security
The way a company operates usually stems with the type of culture that leadership promotes. A culture of security begins with hiring the right people. It also includes initial and ongoing security training for employees.
In addition, there should be a team of people that are dedicated to security and privacy.
On the operational side, there should be continual monitoring for vulnerabilities using a combination of commercially available tools and custom tools.
Preventing malware can be achieved by scanning all indexed websites for websites that may be vehicles for malware or phishing. Multiple anti-virus engines protect users from malware.
What’s commonly referred to as “the cloud” is a geographically distributed collection of data centers, some of which house several hundred thousand servers.
First, it’s important to tightly control physical access to these facilities.
The use of custom hardware and software creates a consistent environment that makes it easier to monitor for any warning signs. Data should be encrypted at all stages — at rest, in transit and on backup media.
Independent Third Party Validation
To avoid any elements of “the fox guarding the hen house”, it’s important to use third parties to audit data centers, infrastructure and operations.
“Email Security” isn’t just one thing. It’s a widely assorted blend of strategies and actions. Email security isn’t static either. Threats are a constantly moving and morphing target.