05 Jun 2020

Email Data Protection, The What and Why, and How to Select Yours

Organizations continue to place too much focus on feature and function when evaluating security technology. At a time of fierce digital transformation, the distance between technical promise and business impact continues to widen as over 124.5 billion business emails are sent and received each day.

When COVID-19 first emerged, many organizations scrambled to find quick-fix security solutions to prop up their now-remote workforces for a business delay expected to last a couple of weeks. Add to the mix the acceleration of long-term working from home and shifting attitudes to digital privacy.

“This is a wake-up call for organizations that have placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience,” says Sandy Shen, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. “Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly now, and over the long term.”

But simply buying an encryption product, to protect your data being sent in emails, does not guarantee long term organizational value.

According to a survey from encryption technology experts Echoworx, 81 per cent of organizations prioritized encryption for protecting data sent in email as important, even critical, to their technology stack, but only 40 per cent are using email encryption throughout their business.

To end this disconnect, we argue that organizations need to start thinking differently about their email data protection strategy and the way they evaluate and select solutions and vendors.

Technology alone delivers no value

The fact that the technical “experts” believe a technology or product will work for the business is not a guarantee that the business will actually use it. Through our years of experience, we have heard these three email encryption misconceptions repeated over and over.

Misconception #1: “We invest in encryption tools because it is mandatory”
Reality: Investment in an encryption tool should address specific business needs.

Misconception #2: “We have encryption, we are safe. It’s good enough.”
Reality: Protecting data sent through email is less dependent on technology than you think.

Misconception #3: “Data protection is all about compliance”
Reality: The ability to protect data is just as important as the ability to use and move data.

Why do you need a particular product? How well do you know the business and their needs? And, how well will this product meet those needs? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, with total clarity, you don’t understand the business and you won’t be able to add real value.

One bank, for example, wanted to easily recall emails and customer documentation so that they could reduce implicating the Chief Data Officer and eliminate lengthy audit processes. That’s what the business needed. What the business got was an onerous multi-step approach, requiring physical actions from multiple staff, external individuals, organizations, and 3rd party email providers to confirm emails and attachments have been deleted from all backups and archives.

In another example, an insurance company wanted their customers to be able to simply respond to an email so that they could return sensitive documentation easily to a centralized mailbox. That’s what the business wanted. What the business got was a time-consuming multi-step approach, requiring the resources of multiple staff, sending instructional emails to customers, requiring registration to an encrypted email service – before being able to access and return requested documents safely.

The list goes on.

Ask better questions, align technology to business needs

Instead of arming yourself with a checklist of features and functions, prepare questions that will help you evaluate the fit of an email data encryption solution to your business needs. Here’s how …

To learn: How well the offering meets your business need.
Ask. Why do you need this particular security product? Why now?

To learn: What does success look like for the business.
Ask. How well does this offering resolve your specific need?

To learn: How end users will use this solution.
Ask. How well does the offering fit into your existing way of working?

To learn: Can this meet the business needs today and the bigger picture needs tomorrow.
Ask. How well the offering integrates with your other systems and technologies? Could the way you use this solution change over time?

01 Jun 2020

Multilingual Interfaces Drive Growth, Says Research

For decades, businesses have internationalized their global operations by adopting English. The gains from this have been real, but recent research suggests they could be even bigger if paired with language preference.

Global enterprises need to operate in English. It’s the primary language of technology, finance, regulators, and other major stakeholders. Firms with global operations need to have a unified language for communication and English-first policies have taken hold in many corporate headquarters and regional offices.

There are advantages to this, such as being able to communicate between offices in Mumbai, Shanghai and Sao Paulo. But even in economies with a high level of English-language skills – including tech hotspots such as the Nordics, Israel and Singapore – the use of non-native languages can cause confusion, miscommunication, and unnecessary risk.

Increasingly, firms and researchers are realizing that while the trend toward global English has brought benefits, there may be even more upside to having multilingual capabilities.

Here are some key recent findings and observations:

Multilingual businesses can embrace multiple ways of thinking

The World Economic Forum has recognized that the language people use can change the way they think, sometimes in surprising ways . For instance, Chinese speakers tend to take more gambling risks when they receive positive feedback in their native language, but they became more risk averse when the same feedback is given in English. “Reduced impulsiveness when dealing in a second language can be seen as a positive thing, [but] the picture is potentially much darker when it comes to human interactions,” the WEF noted. “In a second language, research has found that speakers are also likely to be less emotional and show less empathy and consideration for the emotional state of others.”

The WEF suggests firms embrace multilingualism even while having an “official” language. “A balanced exchange of ideas, as well as consideration for others’ emotional states and beliefs, requires a proficient knowledge of each other’s native language. In other words, we need truly bilingual exchanges.”

New technologies increase the need for native-language precision

Second languages are difficult to master in writing, and far more challenging to learn to speak. With the world’s largest technology firms promoting voice commands, the demand for better native-language interfaces is rapidly increasing.

The mobile-first world is changing the way we interact with our devices – Oracle Industry Strategy Director, William Bariselli

The mobile-first world is changing the way we interact with our devices, and we’re currently seeing a shift back to an older method of communication: speech. Users are increasingly starting to type using voice inputs rather than using the keyboards,” says William Bariselli, Industry strategy director at Oracle.  He notes that around 60% of mobile phone users already speak to their device daily, with higher rates among younger generations.

As anyone who has responded to voice prompts on a customer-service line or received a nonsensical response from Siri or Alexa can tell you, speech recognition is far from perfect. But with Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon making massive investments in natural language processing and including voice features in virtually all hardware and software, it is certain that the trend toward voice will accelerate.

English is the language of cyber crime

English is the global language of both business and cyber crime. Consumer anti-virus firms Symantec and Kapersky consistently note that email phishing and extortion scams almost always start in English before being adapted into other languages.

Scammers will use poor English deliberately to target people with lower-level reading skills

Scammers will use poor English deliberately to target people with lower-level reading skills – both less-educated native speakers and those who use English as a second language. Consultant and author Joseph Steinberg says this targeting of people with poor English skills is intentional and strategic. “As the vast majority of people simply do not write their emails with The King’s English, to put it mildly. A bogus email impersonating one from the head of corporate computer support is likely more believable with minor errors in it, than if it were written as well as most articles in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.”

Native-languages may be a legal requirement

Multilingual operations are often a requirement rather than a choice. Many jurisdictions have regulations that mandate bi- or multi-lingual services. Financial firms in Canada, for instance, must have both English and French content and interfaces for employees and clients. Similarly, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations obliges firms to provide native-language services when dealing with third parties.

Even if multinationals are not required to adopt a local language by law, they will have to communicate and service with institutions that must do so – such as financial and government institutions, particularly when it comes to official and sensitive communications.

Enterprises can’t afford to have any vital instructions lost in translation when communicating sensitive data and private information – Echoworx Senior Director Market Intelligence, Jacob Ginsberg

“Enterprises can’t afford to have any vital instructions lost in translation when communicating sensitive data and private information,” said Jacob Ginsberg, Senior Director Market Intelligence with email data encryption leader Echoworx. “To avoid confusion, miscommunication or something as simple as a poor customer user experience, secure message notifications and instructions need to be clearly understood by those who receive them.”

Native language capabilities reduce costs

With local language capabilities, employees and customers can fully understand and interact with systems and software, improving their ability to use a product and learn its functionalities. “Only if all buttons, menu lists, commands, messages and notifications are clear, will your customers be able recognize all advantages of using your application,” said Dorota Pawlak , owner of DP Translation Services, which localizes software for Polish market. “Localization … ensures readability and preserves the original functionality to help your users understand your product, which in turn ensures better customer experience.” This lowers unnecessary queries to customer service reps, lowering support costs and freeing money for other activities.

Local language capabilities increase employee retention

Harvard Business School professor Tsedal Neeley sees many advantages of English as a global business language, but notes that forcing employees to adopt foreign language can hurt performance, job satisfaction and retention.”When my colleagues and I interviewed 164 employees at GlobalTech [a pseudonym for a multinational] two years after the company’s English-only policy had been implemented, we found that nearly 70% of employees continued to experience frustration with it. At FrenchCo [another pseudonym], 56% of medium-fluency English speakers and 42% of low-fluency speakers reported worrying about job advancement because of their relatively limited English skills.”

People are more precise on their native language

English is essential to advance in sectors like technology and finance, but English as it is spoken in business is not the same as how it is spoken naturally and has serious limitations. “Phonetically, [business English] has almost nothing to do with American or UK English. They say it is ‘BBC English,’ but actually it is not. It is a phonetically simplified English that uses UK English grammar,” said Salvatore Sanfilippo, an Italian computer programmer with a U.S. cloud services firm. While this allows people from around the world to communicate easily, it has nothing to do with the real English spoken in UK, US, Canada, and other countries where English is a native language,” says Sanfilippo.

A person’s first language will be their first preference

The most obvious reason for language localization is that a vast majority of people prefer to speak their first languages.

The Globalization and Localization Association, a global non-profit, notes a wealth of studies on language preference: 56.2% percent of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price,65% of multinationals believe localization results in higher revenues, 95% of Chinese consumers are more comfortable with websites in their language. The ability to communicate in multiple languages can even be a critical factor the success of cross-border merger and acquisition deals.

56.2% percent of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price – The Globalization and Localization Association

Similarly Common Sense Advisory  polled 3,002 consumers in 10 countries finding a substantial consumer preference for native tongues, noting that people who lack confidence tend “to avoid English-language websites, spend less time during their visits, and not buy products that lack instructions or post-sales customer support in their language.”

21 May 2020

Security Shopping Based on the Lowest Bidder

Bang-for-buck is less about cost and more about strategic fit and operational value when it comes to email security

Overnight digital transformations in the wake of COVID-19 are pushing organizations to the brink of what their infrastructure can handle. In the case of large enterprises, with thousands of employees and offices around the world, actions as simple as sending an email can quickly become overwhelming – requiring new hardware, software and the IT staff to run it all. Consequentially, many organizations have had to rapidly upgrade and evaluate new technologies, in a cost-driven manner, to help bridge the gaps.

Yet, a new study by Echoworx reveals a disconnect between the immediate rewards of low initial price tags to actual long-term value amid growing security breaches and brand distrust. While cost remains a primary driver behind the decision-making process for information security shoppers, there is an alarming lack of other factors contributing to ultimate assessments of value.

Prepare for the next GDPR, align to the goals of business leaders

Meeting immediate business requirements is tempting for organizations operating under time constraints – it’s human nature. But focusing evaluation criteria for data protection on cost and business compliance, often results in adopting solutions that meet a narrow checklist of requirements or immediate needs. Theoretically this approach ensures the organization can maintain compliance, with minimal impact to their bottom lines, while preserving their ability to compete in their new digital world.

But it is not that simple.

Adopting a checklist strategy for protecting data sent through email does not anticipate unexpected turns or developments down the road. Regulations, or other security demands, are known to change without warning – suddenly adding more boxes needing to be checked off. While a low-price tag might create initial attraction to a security solution, organizations need to ensure it is flexible enough to accommodate new demands and the impact it can have on innovation and their strategic vision.

Introduced in the spring of 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU, for example, revolutionized the way organizations were able to capture, store and exchange the personal digital data of the citizens of affected European nations. Yet, less than a year later, in January 2019, Denmark introduced more literal interpretations of the new GDPR, making encryption mandatory for all sensitive data overnight – including data sent in emails. For organizations not set up to accommodate this new Danish development, conducting business in Denmark became incredibly difficult.

Opt for value optimization instead of short-term cost impact

More than 50 per cent of CIOs from banks and insurers operate their IT environments in a cost-inefficient way, according to Gartner’s cost value matrix. Another report by Forrester found that cost is, by far, the highest consideration of decision-makers shopping for an email security solution. But respondent also touched on other considerations seemingly unrelated to cost, with unquantifiable benefits, like customer impact, listed as important determining factors. This suggests that the actual business value of email protection is not set solely by the lowest possible initial investment – and is instead a value-for-money equation.

And this value equation can be played out in various scenarios.

According to Siddharth Deshpande, former-Research Director at Gartner, organizations continue to see the additional value brought by security solutions – in addition to the security they provide. “Security leaders are striving to help their organizations securely use technology platforms to become more competitive and drive growth for the business,” says Deshpande, as reported by Forbes.

If the solution is chosen on account of cost, without consideration being paid to a mix of business needs, the result may meet the tactical requirements set by IT but could be detrimental to the business on account of a poor or overly rigid customer experience, for example.

Digitalization will lead to the value-for-money

We need to remember that any digital tool on the market is designed to replace a clunky offline process – email data protection tools are no exception. Decision-makers need to keep business use cases top-of-mind when shopping for email security tools that help with digital transformations. Cost means nothing if a tool does not do what it’s supposed to do or proves detrimental to business flow.

A bank, for example, might need to send millions of secure financial statements to their customers at the end of each month. While this might normally be done using post, requiring reams of paper and expensive postage, an email data protection solution can enable them to send digital copies to customers faster and at substantially lower costs. Checkbox marked. But the true cost-efficiency is only realized if the same solution can handle the intensive demands and mass distribution of virtually unlimited encrypted documents – not hinder it.

And our new digital world appears to be here to stay, with 74 per cent of CFOs toying with the idea of increasing remote work capabilities after the current global pandemic passes. While others, like Twitter, already publicly stating, “If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.”  But ensuring that these workers can do all their work from home, requires security. Analysts are predicting further investment into IT solutions to accommodate this increased demand for remote work.

Reap the benefits of digital transformation by smarter spending

Initial costs of an email data protection solution can be misleading if their business value over time is not considered. If the technology is effective at adapting to various business use cases and securing vulnerabilities, without detrimental impacts to customer experience, initial monetary investment can quickly become irrelevant.

Even a higher initial investment into encryption technology can be offset by less investments into maintenance, hardware, or software upgrades. This can lead to substantially shorter payback periods and allows for valuable IT resources to be allocated to other projects.

Further supplementary cost savings can also work over a period to make the solution more valuable. A more valuable security tool, for example, might grant access for users to self-help resources or access to third-party specialists to help navigate any user confusion. Mitigating the costs of email related help desk queries alone can save organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars.

An investment in email data protection, based on stakeholder needs and strategic fit, will lead organizations into value-for-money.

08 May 2020

New Streamlined Ways of Authenticating People Quickly Proving Their Value

Traditional ways of gaining access to an account or information, think usernames and passwords, remain common, but their shortcomings pose liabilities.

How do you confirm that people requesting access to your system and files are who they say they are? One way is to ask them to confirm their identity multiple times before granting access – otherwise known as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Chastised in the past for awkward or clunky user experiences, new streamlined ways of authenticating people are quickly proving their value.

Bad password habits pose vulnerabilities

As the saying goes: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same mantra may be applied to a cybersecurity program, where a single weak lock can pose a critical vulnerability to an entire company’s network. In the case of authentication, internal employee slipups can render even the strongest digital locks obsolete. Passwords were responsible for 81 per cent of breaches in 2017.

From weak or easy-to-guess passwords, like ‘p@ssword,’ to password reuse across multiple accounts, people cannot be trusted to create keys granting access to digital assets. But if multiple digital locks are created, each requiring a unique authenticating factor to grant access, it is theoretically harder to force access. That is what makes MFA systems so effective at protecting valuable data.

Address inherent vulnerabilities: authenticate beyond username and password

MFA helps mitigate the vulnerabilities presented by weak password habits by requiring additional authenticating ‘factors’ before granting access. These factors can vary in terms of complexity but are usually something unique or known only to the individual. This ensures that if a single factor is compromised, guessed or lost, like a password or PIN, other factors, maybe a birth date, remain to accurately verify the identity of who or what is trying to gain access.

“Imagine somebody is trying to hack an account and they correctly guess a user’s password,” says Chris Peel, VP Customer Engineering at Echoworx. “With MFA, they may try to log in, but the owner of the account gets a pop-up on their mobile device notifying them that someone is attempting to login. Access can then be denied by the person – using this second factor of authentication.”

Advocate for user friendly MFA

There is no ‘one way’ of conducting MFA. The term is loose and can be applied to a variety of authentication systems – from so-called ‘Strong Authentication,’ a variant of Two-Factor Authentication now a requirement for transactions over €30 in Europe, to hard-token MFA, where a physical token is required to gain access. These systems vary in the amount of security they provide – with some even deliberately hindering user experience to emphasize the importance of the access they provide.

“People won’t accept more security than they think they need.” – Google’s Mark Risher

But new digital variants help make MFA a relatively frictionless experience – with little to no impact on user experience. A bank portal, for example, might ask a banking customer for a password as one factor, or way, of authenticating their identity. But, as a second factor of authentication, the bank may also demand a Time-Based One-Time Password (TOTP) – a single-use and time-stamped random code – issued from an app installed on the customer’s mobile phone. This additional verification is completed by the customer without leaving their mobile phone. The key, you must keep it simple. Mark Risher, who manages Google’s identity systems says, “People won’t accept more security than they think they need.”

Adequate authentication, not an option

When it comes to protecting customers and the digital infrastructure of an organization, adequate authentication should not be an option – and it does not have to be. According to a report conducted by the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), 87 per cent of respondents were favourable of having to authenticate themselves after being told what it was for.

The GIAC study illustrates that, while MFA might be initially viewed as security overkill by people, the same people view it favourably once they are made aware of what it is, and the protection benefits it provides them. Today most service organizations got the message: consumers want two-factor. If you do not offer it, they’ll find the service that does.

Authentication is an integral part of digital business

If digital trust is the new currency of customer experience, MFA is one of the locks holding everything in-place. The average user assesses the safety of an email in just 30 seconds before replying with personal information, says Echoworx in a survey they conducted.  Yet, more than three quarters of people will leave a company who mishandles their data. If people cannot be trusted to safeguard access to their own data, organizations need to ensure a single digital slip-up doesn’t enable fraudulent access.

To make sure that right people enter and access the right information, MFA assures organizations that their entire network won’t be compromised by a single person – helping solidify levels of digital trust.

The future does not include more complex passwords

While not uniformly mandatory under any regulation, MFA is quickly becoming a recommended default. For example, as per the European Central Bank (ECB)’s European Payment Services Directive (PSD2), transactions conducted over €30 must feature ‘Strong Authentication,’ to comply with their ‘Strong Customer Authentication (SCA)’ practice. In the wake of this regulatory development, 84 per cent of affected organizations outline MFA as a priority investment. For independent bodies, this trend continues, with certification bodies, like the PCI Security Standards Council, which is responsible for managing PCI DSS, highly recommending MFA for any future developments.

05 May 2020

A Realistic Look at Email Security

Like any locked door, chest or vault, some things can be more secure than others. Enterprises need to know where and how to apply email encryption for maximum data protection. 

While some email data security products may offer a built-in encryption feature as part of a larger bundle, there are extensions you should consider that further protect your brand, business and customers.

Here are some ways to add some more muscle to your email data protection efforts:

Covers every scenario

Whether you’re sending millions of e-statements or just sending a sensitive document, not every encrypted message is the same. Look for an encryption platform which offers a customizable user experience for both senders and recipients. People do not come in a one-size-fits-all version.

Personalization

If your organization operates internationally, there’s a high chance that English might not be the mother tongue of some of your customers. Offering encrypted communications in the language of your users helps eliminate confusion and is just good customer service. With Echoworx OneWorld, for example, you can set language policies which can automatically be applied to encrypted communications based on sender, brand, locale or receiver attributes.

Keep email protection simple

Encryption may be hot but the use of it still isn’t. Echoworx found that only 40 per cent of organizations who have encryption capabilities are actually using them throughout their organization. Making data protection in email a consistent path of least resistance is a good non-intrusive way of getting everyone, inside and outside, to communicate securely.

More secure ways to send emails

With traditional secure message delivery, where TLS is used, if a TLS connection isn’t available or supported at the receiving end, there are only two outcomes: receiving an error or sending a message unprotected. Supporting multiple secure delivery methods offers effective fallback options – ensuring sensitive information is always able to be sent and is never sent unprotected.

Prevent unauthorized access

While a one-time-password encryption method is secure, the password itself is only as secure is where it is sent. In other words, if both the one-time-password and the encrypted message are sent to the same mailbox, there’s a lot of trust being put into the security of a recipient’s device or email inbox. A natural solution to this issue would be to send the password to the sender, who can then communicate it as they please to the recipient.

By Derek Christiansen, Engagement Manager, Echoworx

01 May 2020

Who Controls Your Encryption?

Security controls how our property is used, who has access to it and keeps it safe. But what happens to this secure sense of control when property and data goes beyond your reach – outside your digital perimeter?

Here are some points to consider when evaluating encryption options for email data protection – without relinquishing control:

Meets compliance needs 

Under international privacy rules, like the GDPR, non-compliance can lead to massive fines you can’t afford. And, while delivery methods like TLS or PGP are effective for protecting data in transit and end-to-end, they do not accommodate every situation – additional options are needed. If a TLS connection is not available, you may want automatic fallbacks to another secure delivery methods, such as via web portal or as an encrypted attachment – ensuring sensitive data always remains protected.

Automates processes

Encryption is a feature of any serious cybersecurity design – but real world application still lags, according to Echoworx data. When a platform is not user friendly and encrypting a message is difficult, there is a tendency for senders to favour the path of least resistance – sending sensitive data without protection. Setting proactive encryption policies in motion not only makes encryption mandatory based on pre-set rules, but also improves platform usability by automating a sometimes-confusing process. Take inbound encryption policies, for example. When a customer sends an organization sensitive information, like a credit card number, over an open or unrecognized channel, there is a chance existing email filters might flag and block their message for reasons of compliance. By setting inbound encryption policies, incoming emails containing sensitive data are automatically encrypted, before being delivered to a recipient’s inbox – safe, sound and compliant.

More secure ways to email

From the choice of email service provider to something as simple as a device-type, there are a variety of ways recipients might be inadvertently controlling their encryption experience. This unintended result can prove detrimental to their user experience – especially if there are better encryption delivery methods for their situation. Using proactive policies, your organization can push secure delivery methods tailored to specific customers. You might, for example, set policies which restrict TLS to trusted partners only – or employ attachment-only encryption for secure statement delivery.

Consistent experience for everyone

Part of a true streamlined user experience relies on a consistent user experience – regardless of device, location, location or connectivity. An encrypted message experience, for example, should offer the same user experience regardless of whether the secure message is accessed on a desktop computer or offline via a mobile device – without the need for third-party apps. This same consistent user experience also helps streamline working within collaborative environments. Common business scenarios, for example, often involve engaging with a sensitive document across multiple devices and environments. Is the document going to look and act the same offline and online? If working collaboratively on a sensitive encrypted document, is the user experience identical for all parties involved?

Recall email when needed

The ability to recall a compromised message even after it has been read, is a simple, yet fundamental feature enabling control of an encryption experience. Whether a message is sent to an unintended recipient or whether a message is no longer safe, control over a message shouldn’t have to be relinquished just by pressing ‘Send.’

Brand Safeguards

Branding and the separation of brands is crucial to any enterprise. The ability to brand, separate and segment customer interactions according to brand can mean anything from how a secure message is received to a preferred language. Different brands should also be siloed to prevent eavesdropping from other business units.

By Derek Christiansen, Engagement Manager, Echoworx

01 May 2020

The Importance of a Consistent Encryption Experience

 The adoption of new technologies only truly takes hold when people actually use them – particularly when it comes to cybersecurity solutions.

The cybersecurity benefits that come with encryption can only be realized when the encryption experience is consistent—for your employees, your customers and your partners.

Protection needs to reflect your digital workplace realities

In many organizations, today’s digital workforce include employees scattered across the globe, working from anywhere at any time and with any device.

  • Mobile employees, who expect to work from anywhere via any device
  • Evolving security demands of clients, partners and vendors
  • Zero trust policies for business risk and disruption
  • Controlling data after it leaves the organization, while ensuring it only reaches intended recipients
  • Cybersecurity threats – both of internal and external origin
  • International privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which dictate business processes.

 

At any given time, employees are accessing secure information from their desktop and mobile devices, on or off the company network. Even the reality of business travelers accessing secure documents—while on the road, without reliable access to the Internet —presents a data protection problem.

This new digital workforce makes it difficult to implement a consistent email data encryption experience because there are many user types, each with different needs. A one-size-fits-all solution may sound like heaven but is unlikely to provide a friendly experience when offered to real people in real world situations.

Must-have security extensions for encryption 

Security administrators must balance user-experience with airtight data protection and—much like a tightrope walker—when these features are unbalanced, the risk increases exponentially.

While an included encryption solution might seem simple, it doesn’t always provide the right balance of security and usability. An bad user experience can lead to frustration and open the door to workarounds. A recent Echoworx survey found that only 40 per cent of organizations that have encryption capabilities actually use them across the business.

Pairing your current solution with encryption extensions gives you the opportunity to innovative – offering consistent data protection that reflects your workforce realities.

Look for an encryption extension that:

  • Has a flexible platform that can quickly integrate and adapt to any environment.
  • Provides policy-based support of multiple brands and languages, based on organization, sender and recipient attributes.
  • Keeps email protection simple for people who are not heavy technology users which promotes adoption for senders and recipients.
  • Is designed for high volume messaging capabilities—to meet enterprise-level demands.
  • Offers a variety of secure delivery options, including fallback options, so that all messages are protected.
  • Provides full value for investment.

 

It’s all about the customer experience

An organization with offices around the world can use Echoworx’s OneWorld encryption platform to deliver a consistent brand, domain and user experience regardless of where the sender or recipient is located.

You may wonder how this works. The platform supports 26 languages and uses organizational attributes to personalize and dynamically brand outgoing encrypted messages by logo, division or location. These rules are set up during implementation and based on business use cases.

If you take advantage of branding and language preferences, your clients will consistently see that the secure message originated from a reputable source — your organization—and that it isn’t spam. This approach helps you build trust with customers. Encryption is so intertwined with client trust, satisfaction and retention, it’s now a business necessity.

But it’s a business necessity that pays for itself.

At Echoworx, protecting email is all we do, and we do it consistently. Our OneWorld encryption platform and cloud security services are an extension to existing security programs, providing a wide range of communication options.

By Derek Christiansen, Engagement Manager, Echoworx

27 Apr 2020

Multi-Factor Authentication Is Redefining Digital Business

Why risk everything on someone’s poor password habits? Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is quickly becoming the new norm for verifying people are who they say they are before granting access to digital assets.

Yet there remains a certain reluctance to implement MFA on account of its supposed detrimental impact on the user experience. But MFA has come a long way from its clunky beginnings two decades ago – making it easy for everyone except attackers.

Easy to use

When people think of MFA, they usually think of the authentication system in its most extreme form – requiring a combination of disconnected physical tokens, location-based factors or USB keys which must always be carried on your person. Some of these more-severe MFA systems are designed to be difficult so that organizations can be sure, without a doubt, that users requesting access are who they say they are. While these factors are still used at organizations requiring more robust security protocols for their digital access points, today there are frictionless factors available for a streamlined user experience.

An organizational portal, for example, designed to grant access to sensitive communications, can be set up to require as password for a first factor and a Time-Based One-Time Password (TOTP) – a single-use, soft-token and time-stamped random code – issued from a third-party SaaS app installed on the user’s mobile device as a second factor before access is granted. With the app-issued TOTP, an additional authenticating factor is added with little change to the user experience.

Hard to compromise

A password is only as strong as it is complex – and even the most complex password can be cracked. But people are notorious for choosing weak passwords, reusing old ones, and even using the same passwords for multiple points of access regardless of sensitivity. According to Verizon, 81 per cent of breaches in 2017 were due to weak or stolen passwords. By asking for additional factors of authentication, MFA ensures that even if a weak password is compromised, access is still denied.

In this way, MFA also acts as an effective deterrent to malicious actors. Consider, for example, that half a per cent of Azure Active Directory accounts used by Office 365 are compromised every month – that amounts to a yearly total of 600 compromised users at an enterprise composed of 10,000 accounts. Gartner says an organization which adopts MFA can see a figure like this drop 50 per cent by the end of 2020.

Works well with others: the case of Maersk

Large enterprises undergoing digital transformations are investing in cloud-based SaaS providers to help them bridge gaps in their massive tech stacks. Take Maersk of Denmark, for example, the world’s largest shipping empire, who’s ‘cloud-first’ policy means they outsource tasks and services which are not directly tied in with their product.

Rasmus Hald, Head of Cloud Center of Excellence at A. P. Moller – Maersk, told Computer Weekly, “Why in the world would I run an email system in the year 2019? You might have constraints, like legal requirements [that stop you], but if you don’t, why would you have the hassle of running an email service when you can buy great services off the Internet that probably give you a better service than you would every be able to provide yourself? [Our philosophy at Maersk is to] buy other people’s software as a service and then focus our efforts on building great software for our users, [and] for our customers.”

But with more third-party connections come more opportunities for malicious agents to gain access to organizational networks. This is what makes MFA such an important feature to look for when choosing a SaaS partnership. If MFA mechanisms are in-place, then a higher degree of security can help mitigate any authorization vulnerabilities outweighing the benefits of the service provided.

Perimeterless

Digital transformations enable organizations to be available anywhere and anytime to better serve customer bases across the planet. For an organizational leader, this customer-centric digital world is good for business. But for someone in charge of internal organizational IT infrastructure, a fully digital connected cloud-based environment, where sensitive data is flowing, SaaS providers are plugged in and users are mobile, can be a nightmare without help – especially for sensitive processes like authentication.

MFA can help an organization prepare itself for perimeterless cybersecurity postures in a zero-trust world – where every user needs to be vetted before access is granted. Gartner says, as digital organizations continue their digital transformations, they are going to begin relying less on traditional digital security tools, like VPNs, firewalls and hardware, and focus more budget on securing users outside their digital environment. With its ability to authenticate users more accurately according to various digital factors, MFA is going to play an important role in perimeterless security solutions.

By Alex Loo, VP Operations at Echoworx

24 Apr 2020

Spotlight on Email Security

People transitioned to remote work overnight, sending information like bids, intellectual property, medical records and personal customer data all through their emails. Protecting this data is vital.

You’re doing a great job protecting against inbound email attacks (spam, phishing, malware) but what about the email leaving your organization? Here are five of the most important factors to consider when looking for more ways to protect data being sent through emails:

1. Easy to use

Can a person easily send secure email without any extra steps? Sending an email is a behavior all of us do automatically; introducing encryption shouldn’t hinder this process. Likewise, the person receiving it should easily be able to open the encrypted email. Good solutions will take these behaviors into account and keep them quick and efficient. Organizations can easily adopt encryption as long as their workflow doesn’t change.

2. Easy to send

Does the solution support multiple delivery methods? If you’re communicating with other businesses, they may have an encryption method already set up. Your solution should support multiple delivery methods, like TLS, PGP and third party S/MIME to take advantage of this. A good solution should also support delivery methods that make it easy for anybody to pick up messages, through encrypted PDF/ZIP or a secure web and mobile web portal. Enterprise administrators should be able to select the delivery methods that best meet their business needs.

3. Easy to access

As organizations are increasingly adopting cloud based solutions, shouldn’t your encryption decision follow the same strategy? Can the solution run completely in the cloud, so you don’t have to run any software or hardware on premise? Cloud implementations save you deployment time and resources, and allow the encryption solution to grow with the company.

4. Easy to automate

Does the solution allow you to easily set scanning policies to inspect email subject lines, body, attachments, and take action accordingly? You may only want to encrypt emails that contain certain keywords or regular expressions like credit card numbers or other customer information. A good solution will use a robust policy engine to allow you to create and edit policies to determine what should be encrypted and how.

5. Easy to get approval for

Is the solution easy to integrate and manage across the organization? Can it adapt to your changing policy and regulatory requirements without impacting everyone? You can never predict where a security leak will come from. A cost effective solution will be adaptive and scalable to meet a wide spectrum of business requirements; protecting all sensitive information from going out in the clear, not just executives or specific departments.

It’s time we all get serious about securing email.

By Jacob Ginsberg, Senior Director Market Intelligence at Echoworx

15 Apr 2020

Goodbye Algorithms, Hello User Experience

Leading firms are revamping decades-old debt-heavy data protection technologies and processes to provide more productive experiences.

Most email data protection systems use the same encryption algorithms and specs; almost all contemporary email security products feature 2048-bit RSA encryption, 256-bit AES encryption and SHA2 signatures. There’s nothing new about that – it should be a given.

But not all solutions designed to protect data sent though email are easy for everyone to use – and that’s where user experience scores the winning goal.

Data protection only works if we put people first

We recently surveyed IT professionals and IT decision-makers and found that, while email data protection is a priority for most organizations, less than half of organizations with encryption software use it extensively. This often comes down to user-friendliness; it’s nearly impossible to roll-out a security feature that doesn’t integrate seamlessly into existing workflows. When searching for an email data protection solution, carefully consider the processes that come with the product and let a user-friendly secure communications experience differentiate you from the competition.

Keep email protection simple for everyone

Enterprises today are focused on flexible integration and customization – to provide more access across their entire business.

Popular with clients and staff:

  • Smooth and simple to use – Customers and employees tend to take the path of least resistance. Look for a secure communications system which makes protecting data in transit the path of least resistance. A recent case study by Echoworx, for example, enabled a U.K. bank to instantaneously reach its entire mortgage customer base during a time-sensitive emergency without changing the light look and feel of their regular customer communications. Communications could be sent via email as per usual, but with any sensitive information being packaged into protected secure encrypted attachments.
  • Customizable preferences – For international organizations, excellent customer experience includes on-brand communications in your client’s preferred language. Did you know that 79 per cent of people take less than 30 seconds to evaluate the safety of an email? This means off-brand but legitimate secure emails from your company can easily be categorized as spam, decreasing your organization’s digital trustworthiness. Even the most-secure communications should allow you to set language policies to automatically apply to secure communications based on sender, brand, locale and receiver attributes.
  • More ways to send secure email – Not every business use case is the same, so you need to ensure your email data protection solution if flexible enough to adapt to different conditions. While TLS remains a primary secure method of protecting data in transit, for example, what if a TLS connection is not available? In addition to providing fallback options, ensuring no sensitive message goes undeliverable or, worse, is sent in the clear, having access to multiple secure delivery methods gives more choice to both senders and recipients in how they choose to communicate with one another.

 

Popular with administrators and support:

  • More control over email security – Definable policies control which communications get protected (and how) based on message content. This is set up during implementation of an email data protection system—based on your needs and best practices—to be triggered by common message attributes, like subject, keywords, message type or recipient domains, for examples. Flexible controls for every scenario allow you to create a customized user experience for senders and recipients and stay in control of encrypted messages in transit and at rest.
  • Recall sensitive email – Whether a recipient is compromised, or a secure message is sent to an incorrect address, the ability to recall an email containing sensitive information is an important feature of any best-in-class email data protection system. Recipients should also be given the option to reply in a secure manner to any encrypted message.
  • Prevent unauthorized access Modern non-invasive Two Factor Authentication (2FA) options can accurately verify the identity of users before they are granted access to secure information. For access to a secure message portal, for example, a user can be required to provide a Time-Based One-Time Password (TOTP) – a random single-use, time-stamped soft token issued from a third-party SaaS app installed on a user’s phone – in addition to a username and password before access is granted.
  • Send unlimited email – For large enterprise organizations, numbers of recipients for mass communications pushed to customer bases can be in the millions. When the contents of these messages contain sensitive information which must be protected, like a bank statement, existing communications infrastructure needs to be able to scale to sudden bursts in activity without being overwhelmed.
  • Get full value on investment – With the right secure communications solution, your organization can provide a user-friendly experience—and save money. For example, a recent Forrester study, revealed that a typical enterprise-level organization using Echoworx’s OneWorld email data protection platform can expect an ROI of 155 per cent—with upwards of $2.7M in cost-mitigating benefits and a payback period of seven months.
  • Increase organizational use – According to Echoworx data, despite over half of IT professionals and decision-makers identifying email data protection as very important, even critical, to their organizations, only 40 per cent of the same group are using encryption technology extensively. When working with a third-party SaaS provider, you gain access to their team of experts and, paired with a simple interface and clear instructions, this can mean a streamlined UX – meaning less calls to your help desk and more successful and widespread implementation.

 

Offer email protection to everyone

While access to secure lines of communications is essential for any business, the reasons for email data protection vary. Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report[1] breaks down security incidents by industry, size and concerns. Here are a few takeaways:

  • Financial services and insurance – Use MFA, including 2FA or the European Central Bank (ECB)’s ‘Strong Authentication,’ for all customer-facing applications, train your employees on how to risky exchanges of sensitive data and set up secure communication controls to reduce the risk of insider threats and other communications-related vulnerabilities.
  • Healthcare –Ensure healthcare staff can safely send and receive sensitive documents containing patient information, which is protected under regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).
  • Manufacturing – From sensitive data changing hands during an M&A deal to communicating personal details with customers to something as simple as exchanging trade secrets with a trusted partner, there are many instances where manufacturing organizations should be leveraging email data protection solutions.

It’s now a given that every industry has data it needs to protect. But how this data is communicated safely – packaged, sent and received – determines the experience for everyone.

In the end: People want safe communications, not usable cryptographic algorithms.

By Michael Roberts, VP Technology at Echoworx

[1] https://enterprise.verizon.com/resources/reports/dbir/

14 Apr 2020

Encryption Expands, but Gaps in Adoption Raise Concern

Global information technology leaders tend to focus too much on senior executives at the expense of other business areas raising concern and vulnerability.

A strong majority of IT leaders are deeply concerned with security and have adopted some level of protections for data being sent through email, a study by industry encryption leader Echoworx has found. However, a distressing 13% of the largest firms [with more than 10,000 employees] were not encrypting their sensitive communications despite the steady rise in attempted security intrusions.

“Cyber criminals, hackers, agents of industrial and government espionage all see unprotected email as an easy target,” said Echoworx Director Market Intelligence, Jacob Ginsberg. “In the first half of last year over 4.1 billion records were compromised as a result of security breaches, with a stunning 70% of those breaches being email related.”

Protection efforts are unevenly focused

In collaboration with Pulse, an online research hub for chief information officers, Echoworx surveyed 100 Chief Information and Chief Technology Officers (CIOs, CTOs) from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

As a pioneer in email data protection, Echoworx has researched attitudes toward protecting information and files sent using email for two decades. As early as 2004, it found that while 68% of IT executives had concerns about email privacy, fewer than half had developed a strategy using encryption to protect it. By 2016, 63% of firms had developed a strategy. The 2020 study found that 83% have now done so.

The rise in those top-line numbers has been encouraging but further questioning exposed protection efforts are unevenly focused. The tendency to limit encryption to the top of the corporate pyramid, was noted, leaving vulnerabilities to data and files communicated through email in key areas including HR and payroll, product development, finance and more.

Asked how they were prioritizing the use of encryption, IT leaders said they had prioritized high-level internal messages (26%) followed by sensitive third-party data (24%), protected/regulated data such as medical or credit info (16%) and then intellectual property (10%). But when asked where they were prioritizing the access to encryption, IT leaders see Security, IT, and Engineering departments as being most in need of protection.

However, sensitive data and are shared through an entire firm and with third parties, by practically all business lines and departments in emails. The more limited email data protection and security are throughout an enterprise, the more at risk the company is for email breaches. That calls for a more collaborative and holistic approach, where the protection of data is available for all employees who may handle sensitive data.

…when adopting a ‘zero trust’ strategy – for all messages both internal and external – you have to extend protections throughout an organization … to everyone. – Director Market Intelligence, Jacob Ginsberg

Encryption reserved to select few

That’s currently not happening. Respondents said technology solutions for email data protection were often directed toward the top tiers of an enterprise, even though the measures could benefit whole companies. In most firms, respondents said using encryption to protect email was reserved for the “leadership”, “senior executives” and that it was “based on hierarchy.”

“IT leaders tell us they need to change the mindset, that enterprises need to take a more collaborative approach to address the gaps in email data encryption strategies,” said Jacob Ginsberg. “It’s essential to protect top executives’ communications, but when adopting a ‘zero trust’ strategy – for all messages both internal and external – you have to extend protections throughout an organization … to everyone.”

When building a zero-trust security environment, those who make purchasing decisions should evaluate the all network communication taking place in an enterprise, Ginsberg said. But among respondents, 59% said they had dedicated teams that study email security purchases, 31% said such decisions were made based on cross-department consultations, and a surprising 9% said that decisions were made solely by top executives.

Whose making purchasing decisions? A surprising 9% said decisions are made solely by top executives

Procurement missing the mark on zero-trust security

And even when procurement is a team decision, further questioning found it is often by one that doesn’t reflect the businesses diverse activities: 54% of respondents said the purchasing team were from a single department, while only 46% said purchasing team members included several departments.

“When protecting a company’s assets, most in the industry agree that more needs to be done to improve email security,” said Jacob Ginsberg. “Yet, this study shows that more needs to be done to ensure that email security technology decisions are balanced between the requirements of the whole business and the requirements of the security team.”

For the full insights, Echoworx has produced a one-minute white paper on the survey, asking CIOs how they think their encryption strategies stand up against today’s digital reality.

By Lorena Magee, VP Marketing at Echoworx

31 Mar 2020
Encryption Isn’t Just for Financial Services

Enterprise Encryption Hits All-Time High

Bank, financial service and insurance (BFSI) institutions may be the overwhelming past  juggernauts of secure communications, but they are by no means the sole future of this growing necessity – where information security spending is forecasted to exceed $170.4B in 2022.

Information security is becoming a keystone of any customer-centric business plan – and, in some cases, even mandatory – regardless of industry.

Encryption is no longer an add-on

As early adopters of encryption, BFSI organizations marketed their secure document delivery systems as ‘environmental-friendly’ or ‘postage-saving,’ with more onus put on the customer as an optional add-on. But in addition to streamlined, tree-saving digital features, a more substantial societal embrace of digital delivery methods has given rise to new regulations with teeth paired with expectations that sensitive personal data is being protected. Consequently, over 50 per cent of encryption adopters today, according to Echoworx data, state compliance as a primary reason for implementing an email data encryption strategy. A study by multinational law firm, DLA Piper, reports there have been over $126 million in GDPR fines since the General Data Protection Regulation went into effect in May of 2018.

Data encryption hits all-time high

While BFSI organizations continue to be the more-prominent adopters of encryption, accounting for a healthy 50 per cent stating extensive use in a recent Ponemon study, other industries are beginning to take note. In fact, according to the same report, manufacturing and transportation organizations are not far behind – accounting for 47 per cent respectively.

This changing trend isn’t a trend at all – but rather an evolution of how we protect data. As a tool of customer stewardship, encryption is a way for all industries to demonstrate that they value and care about the personal data of their patrons. As a mutually beneficial relationship, the resulting digital customer trust encourages consumers to continue conducting business while enabling an organization to effectively collect adequate amounts of data without compromising their integrity – resulting in better customer service.

Echoworx recognizes that the world of encryption is becoming more three-dimensional and varied in terms of its business use cases. In order to accommodate the mosaic of industries set to explode into the encryption market, we offer a wide array of flexible, scalable and user-friendly email data protection solutions to streamline any business process.

Ten ways encryption is being used across departments to protect data in email

Changing views on privacy

From the introduction of encryption to popular instant messaging app WhatsApp in 2016 to headline grabbing violations of international privacy regulations, like the massive €400K fine issued to Uber France for their fumbling of sensitive personal data, consumers are now more aware of and concerned for protection of their personal data.

And yet they continue to provide their most precious digital details with little prompting – less prompting than needed for them to disclose their address to a first date, according to Echoworx data. But, if digital customers are easy to get, they are even easier to lose after a data breach and impossible to get back. So why take chances with their data?

According to a recent PwC report, strong levels of digital customer trust are a keystone of any customer service plan. In terms of sharing data, for example, 88 per cent customers who trust an organization are more likely to provide accurate, reliable and consistent personal data. This, in turn, provides more information with which an organization might fine-tine their customer service program.

At Echoworx, we know that offering a streamlined encryption experience is not only good for customer experience – it helps bolster the levels of digital trust needed to build effective business relationships. As more industries go online and digital, this trend is set to occupy a more prominent role in most business use cases.

Fine-tuning the customer experience to align with enterprise goals and expectations

International regulations demand encryption

By now we know the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU is spurring governments to take matters of data privacy seriously. But did you know that EU citizens are protected by the GDPR regardless of where they live or work? Did you know that Danish interpretations of the GDPR mean encryption is now mandatory for all business in Denmark? Did you know that the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is eliminating fax machines completely?

Like it or not, organizations looking to compete internationally are going to have to adopt proactive data protection policies, like encryption, into every process. At Echoworx, we realize this can be complicated for massive international organizations sending out millions of sensitive messages a year. That’s why we have data centres located in six countries – including locations in the EU zones.

And it’s not just about the EU!

Encryption is a part of everyday conversation

While legacy on-premise encryption solutions might continue to dominate the market to the end of the decade, cloud-based encryption continues to grow. In fact, according to a recent Ponemon study, encryption in public cloud services grew over 10 per cent in 2017 – the highest year-over-year growth of any encryption use case observed in the report. We expect this trend to continue and grow stronger.

At Echoworx, our scalable and flexible email data encryption platform and worldwide presence are prepared for this cloudy new world. Our team of experts can help you migrate your on-premises encryption infrastructure to the cloud without any business disruption.

In addition to gaining the benefits of multiple delivery methods, branding and language options and other natural extensions to your existing system, there are additional cost mitigating benefits of working with Echoworx in the cloud. According to a recent Total Economic Impact™ study of Echoworx’s OneWorld encryption platform, conducted by Forrester Research, additional value can be unlocked by working with us as a third- party provider – including cutting down on overhead like support time and additional resources required to run encryption infrastructure in-house.

Read the full Forrester TEI study of OneWorld here.

Encryption is no longer just about saving paper on bank statements – it is becoming a part of everyday conversation. From international privacy regulations to customer service to actual customer expectations, encryption is no longer an option – regardless of industry. Be prepared – be proactive – talk to us today.

By Nicholas Sawarna, Sr. Content Marketing Specialist, Echoworx

———

Sources:

  • Gartner Information Security Forecast – 2019 | Ponemon Global Encryption Trends Study – 2019 | PwC Report – Securing customer trust

24 Mar 2020

Creating a Work-from-Home Business Culture Beyond a Lockdown

Vulnerabilities, from poor data hygiene to weak authentication, can be further amplified during times of crisis when some, or even entire workforces, may be working from home. Here are some quick ways to prepare employees for remote working conditions:

Communicate the importance of corporate data

Employees understand the value of personal identifying data, like a credit card number or SIN, but do they view corporate data the same way? According to Gartner, the potential harm of insider threats at banks, for example, can be the same, if not greater than threats of external nature. Organizations need to educate their employees on the importance of practicing adequate data hygiene when operating remotely.

Suspicious emails, even originating from internal users, need to be triaged to ensure their validity – especially when they contain strange attachments or vague context. Cybercriminals can compromise one account to enter a system before going after their actual targets. Known as ‘spearphishing attacks,’ these attacks can even originate via SMS.

To ensure outgoing data or sensitive information remains intact, employees need to be educated on the importance of encryption. Encryption is an effective way to keep the integrity of messages – to make sure only intended recipients have access. Offering a flexible suite of different ways to send securely, or even enforcing encryption via encryption policies, means secure messages are never rendered undeliverable or, worse, be sent in the clear.

Do they know how to use the video conference? Can they share files remotely? Do they know how to create a group discussion with their teammates? What if their laptop fails – is there a help number they can call? – President of Global Workplace Analytics

Teach the security basics 

As more workplaces move to employees’ homes, so does the business which they conduct. With the recent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), for example, businesses across the planet saw an immediate need for overnight digitization to nearly every business line. For Aviva UK, this meant pushing more of its customer service options online to take the strain off its call centres. The UK insurance giant explains on their website that following their government’s decision to encourage its citizens to work from home, they now encourage more customers to manage their accounts online via their app or by email as an alternative to calling.

But, from exchanging sensitive business agreements to delivering a tax return to something as simple as answering a customer query, there is going to be a lot of important data changing hands. Employees working from remote locations need to understand the importance of communicating this information clearly, safely and seamlessly with customers.

According to Kate Lister, the president of Global Workplace Analytics, as reported by The Washington Post, organizations pushing remote workplaces need to teach their employees everything down to the basics to ensure they follow proper organizational protocol. “Do they know how to use the video conference? Can they share files remotely? Do they know how to create a group discussion with their teammates? What if their laptop fails – is there a help number they can call?” said Lister.

90 per cent of all cyber threats originate with email – Gartner

Warn users of suspicious links

From strange pop-ups to emails originating from unknown senders containing links to malicious sites, phishing is a chameleon crime which can assume all shapes and sizes. And, according to a recent Gartner report, 90 per cent of all cyber threats originate with email – making phishing one of the most significant threats affecting contemporary digital business.

Any employee working remotely needs to understand the real threat phishing poses. Whenever they are working remotely, an employee should always question any suspicious link, even from their personal email if they are working on a personal computer. Encryption should always be applied to any outgoing messages containing sensitive information.

According to Nicole Coughlin Raimundo, the CIO for the Town of Cary, a tech hub in North Carolina, as reported by CNBC, on account of the COVID-19, whose initial outbreak forced the majority of American firms to immediately explore digital alternatives to physical workplaces, she’s seen an uptick in phishing campaigns targeting remote employees. “As part of our work-from-home guidance, we’re continuing to encourage staff to be vigilant and exercise extreme caution when clicking on outbound links,” Raimundo said.

Use strong authentication and passwords

While complex passwords, paired with usernames, are a common go-to for organizational authentication, they are quickly becoming obsolete. To combat this growing issue of authentication, organizations are now demanding established and tested Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) methods for verifying users are who they say they are.

In addition to educating employees on the importance of password complexity, organizations need to ensure adequate MFA systems are protecting their digital gates. Echoworx, for example, can employ policy-based MFA to ensure recipients are who they say they are before they are granted access to an encrypted message. In an age of zero trust, where anyone connecting to a digital system needs to be verified, MFA is an adequate safeguard.

Passwords can be weak and security questions such as “what is your mother’s maiden name?” – can be easily cracked.

Secure connections to prevent eavesdropping

A public wi-fi network can be a honeypot for employees working remotely. Whether they are installing themselves at a local coffee shop or just quickly checking their email on their mobile device, there are various reasons for connecting to a public wi-fi. While most public wi-fi connections may be perfectly safe, they should be avoided for the mere reason that they are easy to monitor – and may even be set up by malicious actors to collect information, from logins to personal data.

In addition to only working on trusted networks, employees should be connecting to a company-instigated Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN works to route a device through a private server, so that any data transmitted is sent via the VPN rather than from their personal device.

Build strong firewalls and update security software

As a first line of security, a firewall paired with up-to-date security software, protocols and other preventative measures is a must for employees operating remotely. In addition to repelling attacks, or at least discouraging them, providing employees with the tools they need to practice proper data hygiene can enable them to identify and prevent security issues from becoming vulnerabilities for an organization.

Implement a BYOD policy

The Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) culture is an inevitable feature of digital business. As more employees work remotely, there is an increased demand for them to use their own machines. But before they connect to company networks, and access company data, their devices need to be vetted, updated and secured by IT departments. This ensures that the computers, smartphones and tablets they use to connect to an organization are not going to pose vulnerabilities.

By Wen Chen, Senior Manager IT and Customer Support at Echoworx

09 Mar 2020

ECHOWORX’s ENHANCED MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION IMPROVES CYBERSECURITY WITH USER-FOCUSED DESIGN

Clumsy and nonintuitive user interfaces can increase security risks

TORONTO – Echoworx, the industry leader in message encryption, today unveiled enhancements to its OneWorld cloud-based security platform with the addition of user-centric two-factor authentication (2FA), enabling enterprises of all sizes to adopt best-in-class security protocols while improving user experience.

“Enterprises, customers and employees want the enhanced security that multi-factor authentication provides,” said Chris Peel, Echoworx Vice President Customer Engineering. “But non-intuitive and cumbersome interfaces can make MFA unappealing for customers or can even make them resistant to cybersecurity. By enhancing user experience, you also improve security.”

MFA isn’t new. In the pre-digital world, financial institutions required several physical ID cards to open accounts, bank machine users needed both a physical card and an individual PIN, and institutions would require clients to choose security questions. But passwords can be weak and security questions – such as “what is your mother’s maiden name?” – can be easily cracked.

Such issues with security and usability led to more consumer-driven user experiences, led by major firms such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. The Echoworx OneWorld platform provides a cost-effective scalable solution for firms seeking email data protection with more robust and user-friendly multi-factor security.

“Security isn’t just a matter of engineering, it’s also a matter of design,” said Echoworx Senior Director Market Intelligence Jacob Ginsberg. “Our intuitive email encryption platform and enhanced multifactor authentication allows enterprises of all sizes to affordably provide secure online interactions, and by putting user experience at the forefront, they simultaneously improve data protection and accelerate adoption.”

Rising cybersecurity risks have encouraged firms to adopt practices that suit a “Zero Trust” environment in which the best-practice is to never automatically trust and always verify. This has made multi-factor authentication a cybersecurity essential and led to user-centric platforms becoming a key differentiator between firms.

Echoworx’s scalable, easy to use, and configurable cloud security and email encryption solutions, have been adopted by firms of all sizes in more than 30 countries and 26 languages. Echoworx’s senior members will be at the Nordic Cyber Security Summit in Copenhagen to meet with clients, answer press inquiries, and speak with industry influencers.

Contact

Lorena Magee, VP Marketing media@echoworx.com +1 416 226-8600

26 Feb 2020

Nordic Countries Score Huge Tech Successes, but Worries About Cybersecurity Mount

The Nordics have become a hot spot for innovation, producing technologies that have reshaped global industries, but governments and industry groups have been cautioning that the region’s phenomenal success could be threatened by weak cybersecurity

When people think of Nordics, they may visualize lands of elk and reindeer, but perhaps they should also be imagining “unicorns,” those rare start-ups that attain a valuation of US$1 billion. With just over 27 million people, the Nordics of have been punching above their weight when it comes to producing innovative tech firms.

The Nordics – comprised of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden – was already home to some of Europe’s largest legacy technology firms, including Ericsson, Nokia and Telenor. This has provided a foundation for start-ups that are relatively small, nimble, entrepreneurial, and with high growth potential.

Although most Nordic unicorns are unfamiliar to the public – with firms in areas like FinTech gaining large market share without much global attention – others have become household names. Skype helped make long-distance charges a thing of the past. Spotify shattered the dominance of Apple’s iTunes. Rovio Entertainment, creator of Angry Birds, boasts more than 4.5 billion downloads of its apps.

It’s been said jokingly that the region’s long winters have encouraged technology development as people don’t want to go outside, but more important factors are those that it shares with other innovation hotbeds – such as Silicon Valley, Singapore and Israel. These include open economies, a global outlook, regulatory support, high personal incomes, and highly educated populations.

The World Economic Forum’s most recent Global IT report ranked Finland, Sweden and Norway among the top five countries in terms of “network readiness” – sandwiched between number one Singapore and the U.S. at number five. That makes them among the world’s top locations in terms of the overall environment for technology use and creation, infrastructure, affordability, skills and technology adoption.

We’ve invested in multiple high-growth countries and regions globally, but few have as many advantages or inspire as much confidence as the Nordics – Echoworx Senior Director Market Intelligence Jacob Ginsberg

“The dynamism of Nordic companies is just exceptional, and the talent in the region is amazing,” said Jacob Ginsberg, Senior Director Market Intelligence of global email data protection leader Echoworx, which recently introduced Nordic languages to its message encryption platform and support network. “We’ve invested in multiple high-growth countries and regions globally, but few have as many advantages or inspire as much confidence as the Nordics.”

Success attracts Cybercrime

As could be expected, the success of the Nordic tech firms has made them a tempting target for cybercriminals, industrial espionage, and even hostile foreign governments.

Nordic firms are acutely aware of the risk of lax cybersecurity. In KPMG’s 2019 CEO survey, 21 per cent of Nordic CEOs rated cybersecurity risks as the top threat to their business while another 19 per cent said their top risks stemmed from emerging and disruptive technology.

The consultancy also found that 65 per cent of Nordic CEOs believe that becoming a victim of a cyber-attack is a case of “when,” not “if” and that 72 per cent view information security as being of strategic and competitive importance.

KPMG’s 2019 Global CEO Outlook | Nordic Executive Summary

 

Recognizing the threat, business organizations and governments have launched multiple initiatives to help enterprises’ technical and financial barriers that may hamper critical data security and business integrity. However, both industry and government say there is still some way to go.

The Danish Business Authority (DBA), for instance, has identified cost as the single biggest factor impeding firms from strengthening their IT security defences. The industry group estimates that as many as 30 per cent of all small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are “acutely vulnerable” to malicious malware attacks.

Meanwhile in Norway, a YouGov survey for the Oslo-headquartered Norwegian Center for Information Security (NorSIS) found that complacency and over-confidence are a major concern, describing the finding as “deeply troublesome.”

… so few Norwegian companies seem to recognize the actual extent of the risk they face from cyber space – NorSIS director general Peggy Heie

“What is extremely worrying from the survey is that so few Norwegian companies seem to recognize the actual extent of the risk they face from cyber space,” NorSIS director general Peggy Heie, told the media.“Company leaders cannot expect partners and authorities to take all the responsibility for the protection against cybercrime.”

Part of the issue is that while Nordic organizations have a high level of digital maturity, the regions Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have tended to focus on optimizing their existing business processes.

In back-to-back annual surveys of Nordic CIOs, global research and advisory firm Gartner found that while they are well positioned with streamlining internal processes, they tend to be back-office focused. As they lack strong relationships with external customers or stakeholders, they are less likely than their international peers to recognize external disruptive factors.

But this tendency toward complacency may be changing quickly. Tech consultancy IDC has forecast that Nordic IT services spending will grow from $24.4B in 2018 to $29.5B in 2023. However, in spite of forecast growth, the consultancy noted that international vendors seeking to enter the market will still need to up their game and deliver tailored advice and hands-on project services.

“Our experience on the ground is very much in line with the IDC forecasts and recommendations” says Echoworx’s Ginsberg. “Even though there is growing demand, Nordic CIOs want services tailored for their needs, including things like true local-language functionality and support services, as well as solutions that can scale to suit everything from two-person startups to ten-thousand-employee conglomerates.”

Echoworx this month announced the expansion of its European footprint with Nordic language support.

By Lorena Magee, VP Marketing at Echoworx