- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
Efficient and secure email in a digital world; by Vladimir Spirin, pictured, managing director, EverDesk.
On average, we spend at least a quarter of our working day dealing with emails. And the problem is getting worse, as we come under pressure to deal with an expanding inbox as quickly as possible. As a result, other important aspects of our workload are frequently delayed. One of the key issues affecting workers’ productivity levels is the siloed nature of many office technologies. This lack of integration can present major challenges in both operational effectiveness and data security, especially for those who rely on email to document and develop client projects.
Although most applications can be accessed from different devices, many of the current web-based email platforms don’t support file saving and editing or the need to view different file types, without having to switch between different applications. Similarly, users have to find their own ways to organise communications and documents and often have no easy, accessible way to retrieve them. As work styles become more flexible, email is increasingly falling behind newer cloud-based technologies in meeting the demands of both the business and individual employees. However, an integrated email, calendar, address book and file management application – also known as an advanced email client – can help significantly in improving staff productivity and closing the gap between email and other modern digital technologies.
An advanced email client allows individual employees to operate more efficiently, by organising, previewing, viewing and editing messages and different file types within a single folder and desktop interface. This allows users to effectively keep all their information together and access and manipulate it more simply and flexibly.
Increased integration also ensures that the risk of referring to out-of-date documents is removed, with the result that everyone involved in a project can be fully confident that they are always accessing the latest data. This means they can concentrate on making the best decisions for the business, without constantly having to waste time double-checking the quality of information which has typically been compiled manually from a variety of disparate sources. Mobile tools can also be used to access cloud-based applications such as Google’s Gmail, Google Contacts, Google Calendar and Google Drive services. Using an advanced email client, they can choose between cloud applications and standard Windows office desktop tools, create as many calendars and address books as they need and keep them synced independently with different Google accounts.
Meanwhile, the availability of offline synchronisation means that, if a web connection is lost or unavailable, the user can carry on working with locally-stored files without having to worry about work being lost or having to spend time saving files separately.
A secure environment
Although often overlooked, security is also a significant risk when using most email platforms. Yet today it is of paramount importance for users to be confident about storing and sending confidential information and integrating different email accounts, at a time when security threat levels are at their highest for businesses of all sizes. There may be no such thing as absolute security in online communication, yet there are a number of simple steps which security advisors recommend that businesses and individual employees take to help deter all but the most determined fraudster or hacker.
For example, it is essential to create complex passwords combining upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters, varying it for each application. In answering security or password reset questions – a particularly high-risk area – the threat of hacking can be significantly reduced by providing answers that only the individual could possibly know. In responding to questions such as mother’s maiden name or first car, for example, the answer doesn’t have to be honest, just something that can be easily recalled.
Free email and webmail services have inherent vulnerabilities. However, these can be reduced by installing two-step verification, purchasing an email service to communicate privately or using encryption for information which should remain private. Search engines, smart phones and cloud-based services too carry their own risks and, as this digital world becomes more interconnected, it is important to recognise that if one account or device is compromised others will similarly become unsafe.
The fact that an advanced email client uses both offline and online solutions to synchronise and store files makes it less prone to information security threats. Confidential information is stored securely and messages can be sent and received encrypted. Equally, possible downtime or lack of internet access does not need to impact efficiencies because data is located on the computer and can be accessed at any time using the application.
Advanced email client solutions will not improve users’ etiquette. However, in taking away many of today’s email headaches, it will allow individuals to work more effectively and productively – to the benefit of both the individual and the broader business.