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What Key Elements Must Email Protection Software Offer?

Research from Gartner Inc. has found that almost half of board directors see cybersecurity as a top risk in their organization. When you map this risk to the main sources of cybersecurity threats and vectors, email security heads the list. The Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) points out that 85% of breaches involve human intervention: this intervention is often in the form of a phishing email.

Email offers cybercriminals the perfect vector to carry out a variety of cyber-attacks: from the theft of login credentials to the download of malicious attachments to initiation of a Business Email Compromise (BEC) attack; all these opportunities make corporate email a favorite tool in the armory of a fraudster.

 Email protection software is the best defense against the cybercriminal exploitation of email communications, that all businesses rely on.

To keep your business communications safe, TitanHQ has compiled a list of what you need to look for in a great email protection software solution.

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Brief View of Email Protection Software

Email protection software is a holistic system that provides detection, prevention, and response to cyber-threats that are email-borne. The four core layers that make up a robust email protection solution are:

Phishing protection: blocks email spam and prevents phishing attacks. Anti-phishing solutions scan for emails that contain malware such as ransomware. These email protection components prevent phishing attempts and other email threats such as BEC attacks.

Email encryption: used to protect the confidentiality and integrity of an email. Emails that are encrypted within an email protection software platform should be protected against interception and secured, post-delivery. Some advanced systems also use encryption to protect both inbound and outbound emails (Data Loss Prevention, DLP).

DNS filtering: prevents employees from navigating to spoof or infected websites. DNS filtering as part of an email protection solution, adds a layer of security to stop illegitimate internet access.

Email archiving: this component of an email protection system forms part of a wider disaster recovery and business continuity strategy. Archived emails are insurance against accidental data loss during outages and other events.

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Elements of a Comprehensive Email Protection Solution

The core layers of an email protection software solution provide an integrated approach to email security. This unified way of handling cybersecurity is important as cyber-threats escalate and evolve into complex, multi-faceted, attacks. The core layers must, however, provide certain elements to ensure effective application against increasing threats across a wide-attack surface. These elements are:

Integration Across the Attack Surface

The starting point of any modern, robust, email protection software product is that it must be an integrated solution. Attacks against corporate emails and data come in from every possible entry point. An integrated solution will provide the multiple layers of security protection needed to prevent email-borne attacks. This includes phishing prevention, email archiving, email encryption, and extends to web filtering. The latter is an important part of the whole as access to a malicious website can end in ransomware and follow-up phishing emails sent to customers: this exact scenario was seen in the Lapsus$ ransomware attack, initiated via a phishing email.

Cloud-based Deployment

Email protection solutions such as SpamTitan, are cloud-based and centralized. Centralized email management ensures that email protection is always up-to-date and always functioning, across all devices and computers. Because cloud environments and devices often change or are updated regularly, cloud-enabled deployment and management of an email protection platform are essential. Cloud-based, integrated email protection solutions are easy and fast to deploy. 

Ease of Management

Management of email protection must be easy to perform. Easy management is a must-have element as the device real estate of an enterprise changes and the threat landscape evolves. This management should be seamless where possible, and/or easy to perform via a central console.

In addition, DNS filters must be easy to set up, configure, and modify. An API-based content filter facilitates remote configuration and monitoring for ease of management. Mapping Azure Active Directory, for example, to website access, provides an easy way to create security policies on a per user/per role basis. Cloud-based email protection platforms provide a central cloud console with a simple, single pane of glass view of policies and settings to manage security more easily across the enterprise email network.

Intelligent Technologies

Integrated email protection is only as good as the underlying engines that detect threats. Threats that enter the enterprise via email and the web are challenging. Threats evolve at a fast pace, and it can be difficult to detect cyber-attacks that use unique and novel patterns of attack. Sophisticated and clever scams reach out across the vendor ecosystem to begin attacks in unprotected environments.

Zero-day threats against the core systems that we use in IT make detection of threats difficult. Effective email protection software, such as TitanHQ’s, SpamTitan, use a multi-layered approach to threat detection that makes use of intelligent technologies such as machine learning (ML).

Smart spam and phishing filters should incorporate a mix of the following techniques:

  • Content or word filters: filtering based on specific words or content in an email
  • List filters: use an IP/domain blacklist or whitelist to prevent emails from entering an inbox
  • Header filters: a header filter to block suspicious emails 
  • Heuristic filter: Heuristic spam filters use intelligent technologies such as machine learning algorithms to identify spam. These filters use a scoring mechanism to identify illegitimate emails. These types of filters are especially good at spotting dynamic threats.
  • Bayesian filters: build and apply more effective rules over time and typically use machine learning.

Automated Protection to Reduce Human Error

Automation of email encryption reduces the likelihood of human error and increases security. Email protection should be applied to both inbound and outbound emails to protect data. Automated methods of applying this protection can include word-based Data Leak Prevention (DLP) that checks for keywords and phrases to prevent sensitive data loss.

360-Degree View of Email Security

The integration of the many layers needed to protect email threats is an important element of an email protection software framework. Email protection is not a one-stop shop. It requires a proactive and 360-degree approach to the complex nature of modern cyber-attacks.

TitanHQ provides this coverall for email protection by encompassing:

  • Spam blocking: spam containment needs to be highly successful to work well. TitanHQ email protection prevents 99% of spam emails by applying layered security techniques.
  • Intelligent threat prevention: use of intelligent technologies such as machine learning stops advanced and zero-day threats from entering the corporate network.
  • Data leak prevention (DLP): email protection needs to be applied to both inbound and outbound emails to be effective.
  • Ease of use: Automated protection of emails reduces human error and prevents the email encryption solution from becoming a workplace burden.
  • Always-on protection and granular policy settings: email protection solutions like TitanHQ ensure that emails are protected both in transit using TLS encryption and when delivered. Once a recipient receives an encrypted email, they can be required to present further credentials to access the email via a secure portal, or, if an email is less sensitive, a seamless decryption process can be offered.

“It’s Elemental My Dear” …Email Protection Software

The above key elements of email protection software are necessary because of an ever-changing email threat landscape. Using an intelligent and comprehensive view of email protection, an enterprise gives itself the best possible chance of maintaining a secure communications environment.

To test out how a smart email protection software platform makes your organization more secure, sign up for the SpamTitan trial

Want to learn more about SpamTitan email protection for Office 365? Book a free demo.

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