By Mike Foreman, European managing director at Nuro Secure Messaging
Hackers’ use of phishing emails to trick their way into company networks has been an enduring problem for businesses over many years. The infamous CEO scam recently in the news, which saw criminals posing as CEOs by email and getting financial controllers to transfer money, is simply the latest example of many. Email is also one of the biggest drains on employee productivity with workers spending as much as 50% of their working day dealing with them [Workfront]. Yet, despite all its faults, email continues to rule the business world.
But ever since Millennial generation employees, whose lives revolve around their mobile devices, started to enter the workplace, a quiet revolution has been taking place. The preference among younger workers for group messaging apps like iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as the default way to communicate has sparked the most serious challenge yet to email’s dominance.
According to Verizon’s 2016 report into data breaches, the threat from phishing emails remains extremely high. The report cites nearly 10,000 incidents. Of these 916 confirmed breaches occurred as a direct result of a phishing attack. In almost every instance the breach occurred after an employee clicked on an email link or attachment that took them to a malicious site.
Email is also a great time waster. According to a Smith Institute study released in March 2016, more than two thirds of its 7,400 employee sample felt that they were working longer hours than two years ago. Yet just one in ten believed they were more productive and a quarter believed their productivity had actually fallen.
Email bears much of the responsibility for this. On average workers spend half their eight hour day on emails, even though only about 14% are critical to their work.
In contrast mobile messaging is so much more efficient. Individuals can gain immediate access to colleagues, customers and contacts outside the company to help them arrive at decisions faster and achieve better outcomes. A combination of chat, voice and video is in the palm of their hand to help coordinate responses to issues or questions across teams working on similar tasks in separate locations.
All of this extra productivity is great for business apart from in one important respect. Group messaging at work is still largely unregulated, and this leaves companies exposed to a possible security breach or leak of confidential data.
A 2015 study by the Nielson Group found that 97% of employees admit to an increasing reliance on group messaging tools. Yet fewer than one in five companies have policies in place to regulate its use. The study also found that out of the 97% who use group messaging in the workplace, 75% send important and confidential work-related documents. More alarmingly perhaps 21% admitted to sending work-related commercial information to friends outside the workplace.
Most industry observers agree that popular consumer chat apps like iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are not really suitable for work. Hackers are already starting to target these chat apps with malware and tricks like the recent WhatsApp Gold scam. Similarly there is no shortage of WhatsApp IDs up for sale on the Dark Web if you know where to look.
But there are more secure alternatives available that are specifically designed for business. It might be a good idea to consider using a secure messaging and collaboration platform. Some are able to blend the familiarity of consumer-apps with centralised IT administration for control, full encryption for maintaining privacy as well as give you your own keys to access the data. This allows the business to prove compliance to the auditors should they need to.
In summary, regardless of whether or not group messaging is about to usurp email’s crown there can be little doubt of its potential as a smart way for companies to communicate that better fits the ever greater productivity and security pressures faced by 21st century business.
Nuro Secure Messaging is a secure mobile messaging platform for business that blends the convenience of popular consumer messaging apps with the centralised administration and security requirements demanded by enterprise IT departments for data leak prevention and compliance.