Australian small businesses are the most likely to be targeted by scammers – according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The regulator reports a sudden increase of email-based scams (also known as ‘Business email compromise’ scams) contributing $3.8m extra to the losses reported to Scamwatch in 2018.

According to the ACCC, any organisation managing money via bank accounts is a potential target cyber scams such as email-based attacks. The good news is that Australian businesses can avoid these losses with professional email solutions with built-in protection from the most common scams.

In the following article, we overview the security and productivity benefits of the two most popular business-grade email platforms (Office 365, G Suite) and explain how these solutions can protect your company from cyber scams.

Home vs business email providers

New businesses often rely on low-cost email platforms provided by Internet Service Providers (e.g. @tpg.com.au, @bigpond.com) and domain registrars (for example, GoDaddy, CrazyDomains, cPanel). It is understandable when business owners keep their business expenses low at the beginnings by relying on complimentary services.

However, home-grade email services are catering for the consumer market and they are unfit for business purposes. So, owners should consider the migration to a premium email platform when:

  • New employees or contractors are about to join the organisation, and the new hires need reliable, easy-to-use and independent (non-shared) mailboxes with your business name;
  • Files and documents featuring sensitive data (e.g. tax file numbers, identity documents, contracts) are often exchanged via electronic messages; or
  • It looks amateurish to include free webmail addresses (e.g. businessname@gmail.com) on flyers, business cards and other marketing materials;
  • You only get one chance to make a first impression. Emailing your prospects, clients and suppliers from free email accounts imply incompetence and unprofessionalism .

On the other hand, business-grade email hosting services come with a large number of benefits to your business:

  • Scalability: It only takes a few clicks to create email addresses, email aliases, shared mailboxes and distribution lists for the new hires;
  • Professionalism: Your email addresses feature your company’s domain name (e.g. @mybusiness.com.au);
  • Security: Two-factor authentication and email spoofing protection are standard cybersecurity features of any business-grade email platform;
  • Data sovereignty: Professional services let you choose the preferred geographical location of the company’s files and emails;
  • Productivity: Premium email solutions come with a wide range of add-ons to boost productivity in your business.

How a professional email platform makes your business more productive?

Premium email platforms such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite come with a myriad of services helping businesses of any size to grow. The popularity of these two services lies in the add-ons helping you to get more things done, for instance:

  • Create team folders in the cloud to share files and documents with your staff, your clients and your suppliers (OneDrive for Business, Google Drive);
  • Create and collaborate on any document from any device. Access Microsoft Word, Excel PowerPoint and Google Docs with your web browser or your iOS/Android device.
  • Host online meetings with the additional voice and video conferencing services (Skype for Business, Google Hangouts Meet);
  • Bring your staff together on a chat and collaboration platform (Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Chat);
  • Create company-wide calendars for your employees never to miss an event again;
  • Join the company social network to let off steam (Microsoft Yammer).

These add-ons all come for free with the standard Office 365 and G Suite subscriptions. As free and low-cost email providers usually offer email services only, substantial costs involved when these add-ons are purchased from third-parties like Dropbox or GoToMeeting instead.

In plain English, you get more from your technology investments if you choose any of the email platforms over your low-cost email solution.

How business-grade email services keep hackers away?

What is an email scam? When a cybercriminal contacts you or your staff pretending to be from a legitimate entity (e.g. your bank, your client, your supplier) with the intention to defraud your business.

The ultimate goal of email scams is tampering with your bank transfers or deceiving your staff into making additional payments to the scammer.

These scams often rely on sophisticated hacking techniques such as:

  • phishing;
  • email spoofing;
  • fake login pages;
  • zero-day malware;
  • credential stuffing (i.e. using passwords made public in previous data breaches).

While basic email services offer little to no protection from these nefarious practices, Microsoft and Google make significant efforts to combat email scams. Both Office 365 and G Suite come with features to protect businesses from email-based attacks, for instance:

  • Two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication to defend from password theft and password reuse attacks;
  • Email spoofing protection (with the combination of DKIM, SPF and DMARC records);
  • Protection from display name spoofing and email impersonation scams.

They also come with additional features with a strong focus on cybersecurity, such as:

  • Privacy, security and compliance scoring tools;
  • Remote wipe company-owned laptops and smartphones;
  • Protection against sophisticated threats hidden in email attachments, web links, zero-day malware, ransomware, and other advanced attempts;
  • Protection from data loss with data retention and email archiving support.

As with the productivity add-ons, most of these security features are included with your subscription for free or a small fee.

Where to go next?

If you think the time is ripe to migrate to Office 365 or G Suite, you should get in touch with your preferred IT provider to get your business on board. They can further demonstrate the benefits of these email platforms to your business and calculate the cost savings compared to your existing solution.

You do not need to worry about losing any of your emails, as the content of your existing mailboxes can easily be migrated to the new email platform. It typically takes a couple of hours to get your business onto the new service and start benefiting from the additional productivity add-ons and security features.

This article has first appeared in the Arrow Networks IT Blog. Arrow Networks is a managed IT services provider offering business email hosting services on Office 365 and G Suite. Contact our friendly staff today to discuss how we can help your business with the latest technology solutions.