Over 95% of cyberattacks start with an email. Email is the number one source of spam, malware, ransomware, and deceptive messaging designed to entice users into divulging sensitive information. Email attacks are getting more devious and sophisticated every day. Whether it’s downloading an email attachment or following a link in an innocuous-looking email, all it takes is one careless click for attackers to gain a foothold in your network and breach your valuable data.
Keeping pace with today’s ever‑evolving email threats requires a multi-tiered approach. Safeguarding your organization from email account takeovers, business email compromises (BEC), and social engineering attacks requires advanced threat defense to detect and block incoming threats, robust best practices for investigating and remediating threats, and ongoing user education about email security risks as well as the latest attack methods.
Email Security Solutions
Email filtering solutions, a.k.a. Secure Email Gateways (SEG), are cloud-hosted software or on-premise devices that scan incoming emails in real-time to spot fraudulent senders and detect email messages that contain spam, phishing, spoofing, malware, and malicious URLs, and block them before they can infect the network. Features to look for in advanced email security filtering solutions include:
- Threat intelligence to detect and block zero-day attacks
- A sandbox for analyzing and quarantining suspicious files or embedded URLs
- Automatized threat investigation and remediation
- Rich reporting that provides insight into attacks on your organization
- Integration with other security layers to increase visibility and improve overall protection
- Machine learning for continual improvement and more resiliency over time
Additional email security solutions for improving your email security beyond filtering include:
- Encrypting the contents of email messages and email attachments to protect sensitive information from being read by anyone other than the intended recipients
- Deploying endpoint protection that offers real-time detection of known virus and malware signatures and advanced threat protection
- Applying data loss prevention controls to stop data leakage of sensitive or personally identifiable information
- User Awareness and Education
Raising user awareness is crucial for preventing email attacks. Educating your workers on best practices and company email policies is a crucial step in mitigating many of the risks that come with email usage. Regularly scheduled training provides constant reinforcement of each employee’s role in protecting the company. Additionally, by keeping your workers up-to-date on the latest threats and techniques, can help prevent sensitive data loss and malware infections from email. Awareness training to help prepare employees to thwart highly-skilled attackers should include:
- The consequences of opening attachments or click on links in email messages from unknown senders.
- The phishing, vishing, and smishing techniques used to trick recipients and create a sense of urgency for the reader.
- The signs that may indicate suspicious emails, for example, misspellings and lookalike domain names.
- Password policies and best practices for creating strong email passwords, changing them frequently, and never sharing them with anyone, including co-workers.
- The risks of sending and storing sensitive information via email and tips for restricting it only to the recipients who require it.
- The dangers of accessing company email from public wi-fi connections and the benefits of using a VPN to access their email account.
Enhancing Your Email Security Posture
Email is likely to continue as the number one cybersecurity threat vector, costing organizations time, money, and reputation. To combat phishing, malware, ransomware, fraud, and targeted attacks, you need a comprehensive strategy that includes effective email security solutions and heightened user awareness. Keep your sensitive email secure against unauthorized access and data loss by continually assessing the risks and enhancing your defenses. Consider consulting with an Email Security Expert to baseline your existing defenses against email attacks and help you set a path to reach your objectives for maturing those defenses.