Enterprise CollaborationWorkplace Modernization
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From the cold digital sales introduction to receiving your biggest deal, email is the tool we all use to conduct some facet of business. And as you may have already guessed, email is still the most targeted attack vector for business breaches worldwide. That begs the question: Are you using secured email, and what does that really mean?

“When it comes to security, you absolutely get what you pay for.” 

Risky Freemail

If you are using free email (freemail), stop. Freemail services include the email that came with your home internet, Gmail (gmail.com), Microsoft (outlook.com, live.com), Apple iCloud (me.com, icloud.com), or any other free email service such as yahoo or AOL.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, it will be considered unprofessional if the email address doesn’t have your company domain name after the “@” symbol. Furthermore, studies have shown that in more than 75% of cases, consumers and other businesses will not trust a company with a freemail address. Which also results in getting your email marked as spam or as suspicious.

Secondly, since they are free services, they have no support and do not guarantee the uptime or availability of your data. You read that right. If your account disappears tomorrow, you may have no legal recourse or ability to retrieve your email.

Lastly, there is no expectation of privacy or security. Again, these are typically stated in terms of service when signing up for these freemail services. So if you are using any of these emails, you need to transition to something better.

Integrated Mail. Good, but not great.

You may also be using the email that came with your website provider, but chances are that it is not good enough. Let’s be clear on this. For example, we are not talking about you purchasing email from GoDaddy as an add-on service because your site is hosted there. Instead, we are talking about having a website hosted on some 3rd party platform, and the mail is an integrated piece of the server. You will typically have this setup if you paid a third-party website builder to configure your website, and it came as a “bundle.” Popular providers in this space are ICDSoft, BlueHost, HostGator, and many others.

Recommended Business Email Providers

The companies on the list of recommended email providers provided below for business have each been named leaders by Gartner in the collaboration space. These are the leaders of their industry and provide unparalleled advantages in security, usability, and productivity.

Google Workspace

Moving up the list, we come to a familiar name: Google. Google has a paid version of its very popular freemail called Google Workspace (formerly GSuite) which, as of 2019, accounts for over 10% of global email usage. While Google Workspace mail specifically utilizes IMAP protocol even in its webmail version, it’s better than the previous categories for various reasons: security, support, reliability, and deliverability.

With Google Workspace, you can receive support. If there is any issue with Google services, you have a contact for support to help solve your problem. This allows you to focus on everything else by spending less time trying to DIY email issues.

Being one of the largest technology companies in the world, Google also offers some of the best-in-class email security, reliability, and deliverability in the industry. With Google Workspace, you can use things like encrypted email, forced TLS, conditional access, and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

We will spend time reviewing the benefits of Google Workspace for small businesses in a future blog series. Follow us on social media to stay updated on our latest blog posts.

Microsoft Office 365 & Exchange

Another familiar name in tech at the top of this list is Microsoft. Microsoft has been the go-to solution for business email for decades, including a product they invented in 1996 called Microsoft Exchange. Microsoft Exchange now runs Exchange online in Microsoft 365, Microsoft’s online productivity suite service. And as of 2020, it accounts for 87% of email usage worldwide, per a Gartner report.

Microsoft 365 also offers all the benefits of support, security, reliability, and deliverability, as we mentioned previously with Google Workspace. So you can rest assured that it is a solid solution for your business.

We will spend time reviewing the benefits of Microsoft 365 for small businesses in a future blog series. Follow us on social media to stay updated on our latest blog posts.

How can you move to one of these services?

If you want to move to a more secure mail platform, how do you do that? As a non-techie business owner, this task can be somewhat cumbersome. However, you can travel a few paths to get the job done.

DIY

If you are somewhat tech-savvy, you can perform the move yourself, but before you get your keyboard fired up, we want to ensure you have asked yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have time to do this, or is your time better spent on the business? As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. Is this something you have the time to focus on?

  2. Do you feel confident you can resolve the issues if something goes wrong? If you have to bring someone in part-way, it might be more expensive than hiring someone to do the entire project.

  3. How important is your email to the revenue of the business? The likelihood that a professional causes extended downtime or loss of data from a project like this is minimal compared to a first-timer. Consider if these potential impacts would be too much to bear on your company and customers.

  4. Do you have time to support the business users after the project? Once you have completed the move, the work may not be done. Sometimes there are minor issues that staff will need help resolving, and they will look to you to solve them since you performed the move. Is that something you will have time to focus on as well?

If this sounds like something you would instead leave to a professional, you can skip to the next section. If you are still eager, then follow the steps below:

Note that a detailed step-by-step on how to perform email migrations vary for each mail provider and is beyond the scope of this article. However, these are the high-level steps to achieve this. Microsoft 365 is used in this example, but Google Workspace is similar.

  1. Set up your Microsoft 365 tenant. Microsoft makes this pretty simple and walks you through most steps, including setting up DNS.

  2. Notify the people that will be migrated of the time and date it is happening. You can also ask them to clean up as much from their mailboxes as possible, including emptying the deleted items and junk folders. This will help in cutting down the overall time.

  3. On the cutover date, you will need to change your MX records on your DNS provider to point to Microsoft 365.

  4. Have all of the people export their mail to a PST file.

  5. Create new profiles for outlook or preferred mail clients.

  6. Connect the new profile to Microsoft 365

  7. Import the PST files into the new mailbox.

Hire a Managed Services Provider (MSP)

This is an excellent option if you don’t already have an MSP handling your IT needs. Some MSPs will even perform your migration for free* if you sign on as a client. Most MSPs do not want to support anything outside of Microsoft 365 for Google Workspace. Feel free to haggle with them and see if you can have the cost of the migration covered reduced. Outside of performing a migration, an MSP is something we recommend to most small businesses to reduce their risk and increase their productivity.

Hire a Migration Provider

If you are not ready to hire an MSP for your daily IT needs, companies out there will perform your migration at a one-time cost. We recommend providers that specialize in migrating to Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace compared to a general technology services company.

How StrataNorth Can help.

If you are ready to transform your business’s security landscape and are looking for experts to guide you, StrataNorth has security consultants with decades of experience. We can help you reach security nirvana and give you a roadmap for success. Reach out for a no-cost, no-obligation chat with a security expert today.

*StrataNorth does not have any affiliation with any company, provider, MSP, vendor, or otherwise listed in this article or included in any links.

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