But maybe you should reconsider your company’s approach to sending and receiving emails. Maybe that free service isn’t your best choice. Security, privacy, and reliability are the big three areas where you could be leaving you and your company vulnerable by using a free email account.
Let’s start with security. Viruses and malware are the bread and butter of hackers wanting to gain access to your computers and in turn, all the sensitive data they have on them. Equally scary is the possibility of a cybersecurity breach such as the one that hit Yahoo in 2016. In that breach, more than 1 billion accounts had data stolen from them. Trusting “the big guys” could be a fatal mistake — they are attractive targets for hackers who would rather pad their nefarious resume with a high target breach like a Yahoo instead of a small company with less bounty to offer.
The privacy of your personal information is also a big concern with those free accounts. Remember that saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Companies like Google and AOL are for-profit businesses, so they aren’t providing email addresses out of the goodness of their corporate hearts. Though sponsored ads are a very out-in-the-open way for them to recover their costs for providing free email service, there’s a less visible method — selling your personal information to third parties.
Another dimension of email privacy is what can and can’t be seen in your messages, and by whom. Ever wonder what happens to your email after you hit send? If it’s unencrypted, there are multiple places along its journey where it could be intercepted and the contents read by, well, probably bad guys. And if that email contained login information, credit card numbers, or personally identifiable information (PII) like customer names, addresses, and phone numbers, you can see the problems that could arise. Your best bet is to institute and enforce a policy of never including this type of information in emails. However, people are people, and even the best policies can be accidentally or intentionally ignored.
The last area of concern with a free account is that you might not be getting all the services you think you are. Can you reliably retrieve all your messages, including archived ones? How long will your service archive them? Then there’s the issue of server downtime — and the accompanying headaches that come with it.
In the blink of an eye, because of any of the above issues — security, privacy, and reliability — you could suddenly and painfully realize your “free” service is about to cost you a boatload of money. Having your company’s coffers drained by a cyberattack or defending yourself in a lawsuit due to your own accidental release of private information are just two scenarios that could expensively play out.
Hosted email is a surprisingly affordable option, especially the solution offered by HIG. We provide technical support as well as hardware, software — including encryption and aggressive spam filtering — and storage space on a pay-as-you-go scale. With near-100% uptime guaranteed, you’ll get something you can’t put a price on — peace of mind.