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Read about any of today’s current data breaches, and you’ll notice that many of them begin with a malicious email message. Phishing, social engineering, CEO fraud, malicious scripts that download malware, and invoice fraud are all common scams that leverage email messages.

Often, organizations start with cybersecurity training. While training will reduce risk of a compromise from an email, it still leaves your organization open to human error. Even employees familiar with malicious messages can be caught off guard and might fall victim to an email scam or phishing. Instead of relying solely on cybersecurity training, it should be combined with proper email security.

Good email security services stop malicious messages from reaching a targeted user’s inbox, saving them from making a mistake and falling victim to an attack. These services will quarantine messages and let administrators review them before allowing any message to reach its intended recipient. With email security, your organization reduces risk of a data breach from human error.

What Happens When Your Email Does Not Have Cybersecurity?

The latest Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report indicates that 82% of data breaches involve a human element and about 25% of data breaches start with phishing. For small businesses that think they aren’t targets, think again. Small businesses are preferred targets for cyber-criminals, because they know that small businesses do not have the money to invest in sophisticated cybersecurity that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Approximately one in 99 phishing emails (approximately 1%) are successful. Of the phishing emails sent to businesses, about 65% of them are targeted towards high-privileged users. Spear phishing targets executives, financial departments, accountants, human resources, and other areas of business where attackers know that their victims have access to a large collection of personal data for employees and customers.

Poorly secured email is also a compliance issue. Many of today’s strictest compliant standards require that organizations do what is necessary to protect from common threats including email attacks. A data breach on a poorly secured organization can cost millions in violations and litigation. For some organizations, the brand damage associated with a successful data breach is enough to severely impact revenue, customer loyalty, and business continuity.

Did You Know?

99.99%

SpamTitan's spam catch rate

11 seconds

a ransomware attack occurs

$285

the average cost to manage spam per person without an email filter

56.50%

of all email is spam

Does Email Include Any Security?

For as important as email is for many organizations, it’s one of the most poorly secured forms of communication. Snail mail might no longer be a fast form of communication, but it’s more secure than email. Without any security infrastructure, email messages are sent unencrypted over the internet, and they can be intercepted with a properly located attacker. For example, a malicious user on the same network could intercept email messages and read them.

Because email is insecure, users should know not to send private information via email systems. As a matter of fact, sending healthcare information over email is a violation of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations. Healthcare and any other sensitive data should never be sent over email, including internally with other employees.

Some public free email services include security. For example, Gmail and Office 365 have security integrated with their services. For individuals, this email security is sufficient for basic attacks. For sophisticated attacks, however, neither of them can handle messages targeting users from a collected list of high-privilege potential victims.

Example Phishing Emails That Bypass Standard Security

One common mistake a small business makes is thinking that services such as Office 365 have sufficient security to protect it from phishing. The false sense of security is what makes phishing attacks so effective against these businesses. While Microsoft Office 365 does a good job defending against simple attacks, a dedicated threat targeting a business can bypass Office 365 defenses.

A common trick is using “email delivery failed” messages and sending them to a targeted victim. The message indicates that the message failed, but the targeted user can click a button to have the message resent. When the user clicks the resend button, the message downloads a malicious script that will install malware on the local machine.

Another common attack uses system alerts. For example, Office 365 provides users with a set amount of storage space for the chosen subscription plan. When users reach their limits, Office 365 sends a message to users to let them know that they will soon reach their storage limitations. Attackers use a copy of this alert to send to potential victims. The email message might contain a malicious script or prompt targeted users to click on a button to update their account or review storage capacity. Users that download a malicious script will have malware installed on their system. If the link sends the user to an attacker-controlled web page, the page will prompt them to enter their Office 365 credentials to access their reports. The page is a phishing page, and entering credentials will send them to an atta

Alerts with similar techniques will tell users that their account is about to be deactivated or they must log into their account to fix a billing issue. All these examples will end in credential theft or malware installation on the local machine. Files might be attached to look like legitimate Office 365 documents including shared files using SharePoint to bypass security validation and reach the intended recipient’s inbox. For every phishing email that reaches its intended target, your organization accumulates additional cybersecurity risks. These risks are unnecessary with the right cybersecurity infrastructure.

82% of data breaches involve a human element and about 25% of data breaches start with phishing.

Email Security Services Best Practices

Although email security services are one of the most important components in a cybersecurity strategy, it’s also one of the easiest with SpamTitan. SpamTitan provides a secure defense between your users, the internet, and your email recipients. It implements several best practices that any organization can roll out as an effective email cybersecurity strategy.

Encryption is the number one tool for any organization to avoid data eavesdropping. It’s commonly used for e-commerce sites and other businesses that exchange sensitive data on the internet, but it’s also useful for email messages. Employees should still not send sensitive data using email, but encryption stops eavesdropping should messages contain sensitive information such as trade secrets or intellectual property.

Content filtering and identification of suspicious emails are two protections that SpamTitan does best. Using artificial intelligence, SpamTitan scans emails as they are sent and received. Artificial intelligence detects contextual triggers and language that could indicate that a message is malicious. SpamTitan also scans attachments to ensure that they do not contain malicious scripts or malware.

Embedded links can also point to malicious websites. A content filter along with email security will help stop users from accessing attacker-controlled websites. Email security detects the malicious domain used for the embedded link and sends the message to a quarantined area of your network. Similar to the way antivirus software quarantines suspicious files, SpamTitan sends suspicious messages to a quarantined area where an administrator can review the message and determine if it’s indeed an attempt to phish an employee and trick them into accessing a malicious website. Should the administrator determine that the quarantine was a false positive, it can be forwarded to the intended recipient.

Effective email security policies are also necessary and available with SpamTitan. An email policy will determine the type of attachments and messages a user can receive. For example, administrators might need to read PDFs, but these files can have embedded scripts that download malware. Email administrators can create policies to allow specific people to receive PDF files, but the email system will block other users from receiving any messages with PDF attachments.

Policies can block and allow any message type, messages with embedded links, messages with attachments, or specific senders. These policies will enhance your email security services so that your users only receive messages from legitimate users, and they do not get tricked into accessing malicious websites. Network security policies combined with email security is an effective way to stop sophisticated attacks including malware such as ransomware.

SpamTitan does much more than simple email protection. It can stop zero-day attacks, stop nuisance messages in the form of spam, and data leak prevention. The Office 365 additional protection layer integrates with your current Office 365 system so that you can enhance your email security. Pre-made blacklists stop common domains already known for excessive spam and malware distribution, so you get immediate data protection out of the box.

Administrators can see spam quarantine reports so that they can understand the many ways SpamTitan is effectively blocking malicious messages. Should administrators need to change configurations to allow or block additional messages, SpamTitan includes a customizable policy dashboard where administrators can configure the email security system to cater to your unique business practices.

As cyber-attacks continue to evolve, you can ensure that your organization and its data are protected from the numerous threats targeting employees. Human error doesn’t have to be a huge risk for your organization. Check out SpamTitan to get started.

Susan Morrow Bio

Susan Morrow Bio

  • DATA PROTECTION
  • EMAIL PHISING
  • EMAIL SECURITY

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