When companies first began migrating to the cloud, the number one concern for many was security. Fast forward a few years, and cybersecurity is even more of an issue thanks to increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, geopolitical unrest, and the rise of remote working.

Google has always responded quickly to the market, and the company has moved aggressively to shore up security across Workspace - introducing a series of data protection tools, cybersecurity solutions, and authentication apps that are continually tweaked and evaluated to keep up with current threats.

From Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to securely archiving your documents, there’s a lot you can do to keep yourself safe in Workspace. And shoring up your digital defenses doesn’t have to be a major effort. Many of these cybersecurity features are already in your Workspace toolkit, easily accessible to admins and users if they know where to look. 

It’s well worth taking the time to get familiar with the following features. With more and more employees working remotely, your company’s defenses are under strain, and what kept your data safe in the past may no longer be up to the task. A proactive cybersecurity strategy offers peace of mind, better risk reduction, and more control over your corporate information.

Google Workspace MFA 

Authenticating a user’s identity via a strong password is a good security standard, but why not go one better?

Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, involves several security layers so admins can be even more confident that no one’s getting unauthorized access to any accounts across Workspace. 

It involves a 2-step authentication process where users log in with something they know (a password) and something they have (a phone that can receive a message). In addition to asking for a password, MFA heightens security by providing one-time PIN codes typically delivered via an app on a user’s device.

Google Authenticator provides verification codes and can be used across multiple devices. Your employees download the app and open it on their devices to grab the codes when prompted. 

To use Authenticator, you must first set up each Google account in your Workspace for 2-step verification. This is an easy process that only takes a few minutes. Simply navigate to security, then ‘Signing Into Google’, ‘2-Step Verification’, and ‘Get started.’

MFA is a vital extra layer of protection where companies need it most. Unauthorized access is one of the biggest causes of data breaches, accounting for almost half of all such incidents globally. Don’t let your remote employees become a liability. Give them the tools they need to protect their accounts and themselves.

Email Security

Emails are one of your company’s biggest vulnerabilities. All it takes is one rogue email sent from a suspicious source, and you could be letting hackers into your entire network where they can rummage around, stealing data and unleashing viruses. 

Compromised emails are one of the most common forms of cybercrime, and they’re on the rise. Phishing attacks - attempting to extract sensitive information via fraudulent emails - jumped 61% in 2022.

Google automatically scans incoming messages for malware, but you can go further by activating attachment protection. This can be enabled from the admin console and targets attachments from untrusted senders or those with unusual file types. Adjusting these settings gives admins the ability to decide what to do with suspect emails - whether to direct them to a specific folder, quarantine them, or show a warning.

If you’re sending an email to a client or colleague containing sensitive information, make that email more secure by ensuring recipients can’t forward, copy, print, or download it. To do this, compose your email, then click the lock icon at the bottom of the window. This gives you access to confidential mode, from which you can set an SMS passcode and select a date after which the email will expire.

Data Protection & Data Loss Prevention

According to IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach rose to a record-breaking high of $4.4 million this year. Investigating the breach, containing it, lost revenue, regulatory fines, ransom payments - these attacks can seriously impact a firm’s bottom line and damage its reputation. 

If you’re doing business in the cloud, your data must be well guarded from cybercriminals. Google encrypts all data across Workspace by default but if you want to keep your information locked away from prying third parties, consider using Google Vault.

Google’s high-level governance and eDiscovery tool, Vault, is particularly useful for companies in industries that have specific compliance obligations, such as healthcare and financial services. 

Although Vault is primarily a governance application, it’s a great way to retain and store all your company information locked, as the name suggests, in an ultra-secure digital safe. Anything from email messages to Google chat history can be archived in Vault, and all data remains accessible to authorized users so they can still search for what they need and retrieve documents quickly. 

Admins can configure Vault to set up customized retention rules and delete data after a specific time period, completely purging it from Workspace and accounts as necessary. It also logs user activity, so you can create audit reports and clearly see how your data is being used and transmitted.

Cybersecurity best practices

Admins should take time to get familiar with all the security settings and features in Workspace, but it’s also important not to forget the basics of good cyber hygiene.

Human error is responsible for around 95% of all cyber attacks, according to IBM, so if your employees don’t know, or aren’t adhering to, cyber security best practices, they’re upping your risk.

Protecting your passwords

Your company needs an organization-wide security strategy that every employee knows and follows. This roadmap should make space for regular security training and first steps like password management.

A strong password is an incomprehensible jumble of numbers, letters, and symbols, making it hard to guess. Of course, if it’s hard to guess, it’s also hard to remember, so employees don’t always follow good password etiquette. 

If they’re logging into multiple accounts from their Chrome browser, they can let Chrome pick their passwords for them - suggesting a strong password that they can view before accepting. These generated passwords are then saved to their account.

Google also allows users to weed out weak passwords in Workspace, running a ‘password checkup’ that finds and changes unsafe passwords. This will identify whether passwords have been reused on multiple applications, if they’ve been compromised, or if they’re at risk. 

If you don’t want the headache of continually checking, Google will do it for you. Activating password alerts (accessible from Google’s password manager) means you’ll get a notification every time Google finds one of your saved passwords online.

Running a security audit

Having a proactive cybersecurity strategy means continual monitoring and evaluation of your defenses. If you don’t know what shape your accounts are in, you won’t know where to focus your risk management efforts.

Google provides a security checkup that assesses your Workspace account to identify issues and suggest steps to make it more impenetrable. 

The checkup is a crash course in the basics of good cyber hygiene - setting up account recovery options, turning on MFA, removing account access for non-essential applications, and activating screen locks. Other tips from Google’s security team include updating software regularly, removing unnecessary browser extensions, and avoiding suspicious websites. 

Now’s not the time to get complacent about your company’s security. Cybercrime is expected to cost the world $10.5 trillion by 2025, and it won’t just harm big business. A recent report shows that small businesses are more at risk, being three times more likely to be targeted by hackers.

If you need to shore up your defenses with a security assessment and consultation, we can help. Our experienced team of Google-certified engineers, technicians, and trainers have helped hundreds of companies optimize the security of their Google suite. We can help you minimize risk, meet your compliance obligations, and create a plan to mitigate future threats. Contact our security experts today to get started.

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