Many potential killers have come and gone. First, there was text messaging. Then, Slack. Then, Microsoft Teams. And on and on and on. As it turns out, though, despite the constant guesses at email’s demise, it’s far more difficult to kill than Clue’s Mr. Boddy.
Anyone working at a university knows this to be true. In fact, with the constantly expanding proliferation of mobile technology, increased communication through it, and email’s ease of use on it, the technology seems to be becoming only more powerful. Recent research from The Radicati Group even estimated that the number of sent and received daily emails would surpass 333 billion by the end of 2022 — up from 52 billion in 2018.
This also means danger.
Because while email use may be increasing, related security measures may not be. This puts higher education institutions in a precarious position. Why? In the last decade, per CDNetworks, no industry has experienced more cyber attacks than higher education — with 539 breaches affecting around 13 million records.
The Free Body Problem
Do you know the greatest danger to keeping email data safe today? It’s not the bad guys.
While hackers are undoubtedly a threat, it’s actually employees themselves who often build shortcuts and workarounds to data security and regulatory compliance practices — and open the door for irreparable damage. It may feel like simplifying to them at the time, but it’s actually poking holes in protection.
Don’t go blowing up the university listserv yet, though, because this isn’t necessarily or entirely the fault of the users. The reason it happens is usually because IT security solutions are simply too hard to use, adding too many user-side steps and hurdles to the process. As a result, people don’t use email security solutions consistently, regardless of potential consequences, which can be stark. Data breach costs rose from $3.86 million to $4.24 million in 2020, the highest average total cost in the 17-year history of the IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report.