Email was probably the first real 'social network' on the Internet, and the first, and possibly still, the 'killer app'. It’s an easy, yet thorough, method to get messages to anyone on the Internet regardless of age, geographical location or persuasions, and it facilitates the rapid exchange of information. However, with the rise of social media and instant messaging, email transforming more into a digital locker than a go-to means of communicating with your friends and family. Most personal email accounts have become storage spaces for important personal information such as flight tickets, login details, bills, order confirmations and, of course, a common receiver of multi-factor authentication codes...but of course, we still receive our pics from Grandma there too.
As more people demand the same file capacity and availability from their email as they get through their instant messaging platforms, email providers have shifted towards a cloud-based model to effectively manage up-time, operational scale and costs. Traditional email accounts with on-premise servers, many of which have file capacity limits (not to mention staffing capacity limits) and processing limits, are no longer cutting it for modern Internet service providers and their users. As email providers move en masse towards the cloud, people can now access their email from multiple devices and easily send and receive large files. When a person has a laptop that breaks down or has a device that loses battery power, it’s no problem at all with cloud-based email and file sharing solutions, users simply use another device, be it another laptop, their phone or tablet. Cloud-based email is breaking down boundaries and making communication easier than ever before.
Many email providers are migrating to cloud-based email servers because they are more secure than on-premise email servers. However, they do present unique cybersecurity challenges. In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways people using cloud-based email platforms can keep their personal data safe and avoid compromising their privacy.*
The Popularity of the Cloud
Convenience isn’t the only reason people are embracing the cloud. Cloud-based email servers are more secure than on-site servers. If hardware gets stolen or a building is damaged, data from traditional servers can be lost - forever! (We encourage you to read the fine print of your service provider, even Google, it's highly likely they do not maintain any sort of data integrity or security over any term). Saving photos and documents on hardware opens users up to the possibility that if their gadget stops working, their data is lost forever. In contrast, data saved on the cloud won’t be corrupted, stolen, lost, or damaged in such a scenario; if it is, it is more easily restored.
Choosing a cloud-based email provider with multiple availability zones (AZ) is ideal, as it minimizes potential business disruptions. Cloud servers with only one AZ can prevent problems similar to those posed by on-site servers, although data is generally retrieved quickly and rarely lost. Even the behemoth Amazon AWS suffers single AZ outages from time-to-time.
The cloud is also much more scalable. Instead of purchasing the amount of server space you need for your service, cloud-based data storage and compute only uses the amount of resources needed. When users are sending attachments or files on the cloud, administrators are no longer hindered by strict size restrictions of their storage network, but can rather scale as required. Similar to how instant messaging has overshadowed SMS, cloud-based email has taken center for service providers building a new platform, whether they are looking to use a provider like Atmail or build it themselves.
Of course, service providers can design their own cloud-based platforms and cloud-based email, but this comes at a huge cost. You can expect to pay at least $45 an hour for an experienced engineer who can create a customized email platform for your users. However, this doesn’t take into account the cybersecurity elements that needed to be included on top of the design. Cybersecurity experts who are fluent in cloud computing are often more expensive to hire than software developers.
Choosing a white label email provider that can incorporate your brand to reflect your online identity is another way you can create a custom solution for yourself. Atmail, one of the top cloud-based email providers available, offers easy to use yet fully customizable and cloud-based email platforms. The email platform can integrate with your existing applications in a way that mimics a custom program.
Customizability is entering the realm of email domain names as well. As users increasingly embrace their digital identity, they are starting to take ownership of the usernames and email addresses they use online. Apple has hinted at allowing users to customize their email addresses - such as [email protected] or other similar patterns - through iCloud+. Email in the future will reflect the online identity of its users. After all, it’s a common repository of the most personal and private information. Are you ready to offer this to your customers?
Cybersecurity Issues in the Cloud
No matter which route you take, it’s important to understand the cybersecurity responsibilities and how they apply to you and the email platform of your choice. Studies show that cloud misconfigurations are the biggest threat to cloud security. Understanding your service agreement and choosing a provider with a focus on cybersecurity is key to avoiding these potential issues.
What’s more, while accessing personal emails anywhere is convenient, it brings obvious security concerns. Rather than having to rely on logging in from a set location, or gaining physical access to a device, hackers need only break into one person’s email account to potentially gain access to their entire personal network. The attack surface for cloud-based networks is often much larger, especially if the cloud infrastructure is interconnected and not properly protected. You need to protect your users, and make security and privacy simple for them, after all that's your brand promise: be trusted by you users!
According to IBM, 95% of all cyber attacks are due to human error or ignorance rather than faulty software. Internet service providers need to educate their staff and users to utilize the security options that are provided through their email platforms. Education and using all the cybersecurity tools at your disposal is key to having a secure platform. After all, you can choose a vendor that offers a multitude of cybersecurity options, but none of those are going to make a difference if you aren’t using them.
Cloud-based Email is More Secure
One cybersecurity concept that is gaining traction is called the zero trust model. This philosophy encourages Internet users to set up their online infrastructures in a way that assumes everyone who logs on is a hacker until they are fully verified. Merely providing a username and password won’t get users past extra lawyers of security that fully verify their identity. As security measures become more stringent, there is a movement towards verifying devices, not individuals.
To this end, choosing an email provider that utilizes multi-factor authentication is key to securing your cloud environment. Choosing a simple one-time passcode (OTP) option for your users to login with, that is sync'ed to a physical hardware device (like the users phones), adds an extra layer of security that can prevent cybersecurity incidents. This can help people establish their identity online when they want to access their cloud-based email on new devices or when traveling. It may seem like a hassle at first, but the higher level of security provided by this one additional step is well worth it.
Data encryption is also vital for cloud-based email servers. Using a cloud email provider that encrypts all of your data will help protect your private digital assets. Choosing a vendor with a culture of safeguarding privacy is the best bet for both you and your users (and their families!). Finally, you should choose an email platform that can integrate seamlessly with your other applications.
Cloud-based computing is the future because it will open the door for better, faster, and more convenient communication. However, all of these cloud-based platforms connecting people more accessible can create opportunities for cybercriminals. Choosing the right cloud-based email provider can optimize your workflows without sacrificing the safety of your private data.