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01 September 2017

Data Security: The How and Why of Avoiding Email Attachments

Written by Lucy Hardinge, Posted in RPTInformed

Data Security: The How and Why of Avoiding Email Attachments

I never send unencrypted email attachments. And I’m relieved to be part of a growing group of people who understand why.

It can initially be a real pain to get used to (there’s a poorly-drawn diagram at the end of this post explaining otherwise), but there really is method behind our madness. I promise.

Hacks and malware are increasingly making global headlines (just ask WPP and the NHS) and SME inboxes became key targets in 2017. Alongside other security concerns, it turns out that a simple change to your learnt and engrained ways of working could save your business’ reputation.

So, here is a brief (but thorough) explanation of why email attachments, as we know and love them, are fast becoming a thing of the past.


Why are attachments so insecure?
Surprisingly, it has taken some time for issues surrounding email security to come to the forefront of business IT strategies. While the majority of companies are well-versed in the dangers of viruses transmitted through unencrypted attachments, only now are we seeing widespread awareness of the ease at which others can gain unauthorised access to our email servers and online accounts. Your stored emails (and their attachments) really are ripe for the taking.

Courtesy of Digital Trends, here are some of the main places where your email could be compromised:
1. Device(s)
Example: Someone gains physical access to your phone/computer; malware on your recipient’s device crawls emails.
2. Server(s)
Example: Access to your email provider/ISP’s servers is gained, perhaps through a security flaw, allowing access even to deleted emails.
3. Networks
Example: Connection to your email provider is insecure OR your recipient’s network connection to their email provider is insecure.

If your emails are vulnerable, then so is all the information attached to them.


Why is information security paramount?
This is a major concern for the Insight Industry. With growing pressure to prepare for GDPR-compliance and to protect participant data, anyone without a secure file transfer protocol in place could be facing hefty penalties. Client data further requires protection and you have probably at some point signed a NDA to this effect. To further complicate things, research projects tend to attract a whole host of suppliers between commissioning stage and completion. You could simultaneously be working with several fieldwork agencies, a freelance programmer, a translation agency and a panel provider - and it would only take one person in that chain to have their email compromised.

data security


Addicted to Attaching – how can we stop?
It’s so quick, and easy, and tempting… and most email applications even try to predict which file you want to upload so you don’t have to search for it. However, do not despair! The alternative File Sharing Systems have cropped up just as plenteously as vaping stores have as an alternative to cigarettes.

Unlike email, File Sharing Systems were built with security in mind. This usually means that your files are stored on secure servers, can be accessed through cloud-based hyperlinks that expire after a certain time and are regularly scanned for malware or potential weaknesses. Not to mention being able to audit and monitor for any unusual access activity.

For Ease: Finances Online posted this list of top file-sharing services (RP Translate does not endorse any one service over another).

At RPT, our system also has the added benefit of providing a client portal, enabling you to upload, download and access cloud-based files directly.


How We Do It at RPT (an unbiased view)

Back in 2014, when the ISO27001 certification first wielded its bureaucratic hammer here at RP Translate, the first thing it cracked down on was our file transfer protocol. Now, we follow a simple process to ensure that our clients’ data stays extra-safe:

security on the cloud


History Bite: Did you know that RP Translate was one of the first UK language service providers to start using email as a main form of communication? Since then, the team has been dedicated to staying ahead of digital developments. We work in partnership with our clients to ensure that their data is always as secure as possible - wherever it is in the world. Get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today to find out more about file-sharing options.


About the Author

Lucy Hardinge

Lucy Hardinge

In 2014, Lucy unwittingly took on RPT's very big Data Controller hat. She has since realised she can combine her passion for procedure with her penchant for rules and regulations to ensure top-level data security for our clients. Lucy is also pleasantly surprised to find only a few extra white hairs on her head every week as a result.

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