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The Risk of Unfiltered Email

The most dangerous form of email spam is phishing. According to Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report (SIR), phishing is the number #1 way that malware, including ransomware, infects endpoints and networks. The report shows that over half of emails that land in an inbox are a result of phishing campaigns.

Unfiltered email results in a large amount of spam and phishing emails entering individual employee inboxes. Employees are drowning in spam emails and the company is under threat from phishing. Email spam solutions and email protection solutions are designed to prevent email spam and phishing messages from entering a user’s inbox.

The impact from unfiltered email is trifold:

Spam email in large numbers is a numbing experience: in July 2021, the average employee received over 81 emails per day. Mixed in this email onslaught are spam, phishing, and legitimate messages. 

These emails are often opened on mobile devices (37% opened on an Apple iPhone as of July 2021), the UI making it more difficult for an employee to spot a fake email. Employees may miss important emails; legitimate emails being lost in the noise of spam. Even a few minutes wading through spam emails adds up to lost productivity.

Email filters prevent spam noise by stopping spam emails from entering an employee's inbox.

Phishing Emails Increase Cyber-security Risk

In 2020, 74% of U.S. organizations were a victim of phishing. Spam is more than just annoying, they can contain dangerous routes to malware infection and/or credential theft. Employees inundated by spam must make fast decisions. 

Even the more security-aware employee can end up clicking on a phishing link without thinking. Automated clicking makes computing quicker and simpler, and the more intuitive it becomes the more automated our behavior is; in other words, human beings are conditioned to click on links.

Email spam filtering solutions break the chain to automated click behavior by removing the source, i.e., the spam email.

We recently held a webinar with Osterman Research demonstrating how to reduce the risk of phishing and ransomeware. Download the guide here.

Or watch the webinar here.

Osterman Research Webinar - Reduce Risk of Phishing and Ransomware

Spam Emails Cause Financial Losses

Spam emails result in serious financial losses for an organization. The data breaches that a phishing attack can lead to are, on average, $4.24 million according to a 2021 IBM study. Ransomware has increased by 40% in 2020, and often begins with a phishing email. Ransomware costs doubled in 2021 to, on average, $1.85 million per company.

The costs of a click on a malicious link all add up. Costs accrued by a data breach and ransomware damages, include damage to reputation, share price decline, system downtime, lost productivity, and data protection fines.

The $10 a head per year cost of a cloud-based email filtering solution, compares well to the cost of a data breach.

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

How do Email Protection Solutions Work?

An email filtering solution prevents malicious massages and general spam from landing in an employee's inbox, removing the threat at the source. Email spam filtering solutions are designed to automatically work out which incoming messages, detecting which are spam and which are legitimate messages. 

Some email spam solutions also check outbound emails for spam and viruses to prevent the organization´s IP addresses from being blacklisted, causing productivity issues, and impacting reputation. Advanced spam filters, such as SpamTitan, also allow certain data types to be tagged, for example, Social Security number. In doing so, the spam filter prevents sensitive data from being leaked via email.

There are different types of email spam filters available that include:

  • Content or word filters: scan the content of an email for specific words that signal a spam email.
  • List filters: black or whitelist filters that stop/allow emails: the blacklist will stop emails from known IP addresses/domains, the whitelist will allow emails in from trusted sources.
  • Header filters: email spam filters that look at the header of an email and determine its legitimacy based on rules such as IP address.
  • Bayesian filters: creates rules that are built up over time as an employee sets an email as spam.
  • Heuristic filter: a filter that is set to react to specific rules applied to incoming emails. If a rule is triggered, the email is set to quarantine in a spam folder. Heuristic spam filters may use machine learning algorithms to identify spam based on set scores. If an email meets the score, it will be set as spam and blocked.

Some spam solutions provide email protection using a mix of Bayesian, machine learning, and heuristics.

 

How to Evaluate Email Spam Solutions

The most effective email filtering solution for your organization depends on how you typically use email. However, some checkbox items are shown below to keep you on the right track to finding the best spam filtering solution for your organization.

Some questions to ask during evaluation -- is the email spam filtering solution:

  • Easy to set up, simple to configure, and up and running in minutes?
  • Able to fully automate updates and end user spam management?
  • Two-way email protection, able to prevent outgoing messages from leaking sensitive data as well as block incoming spam email?
  • Easy to administer using a web interface, removing the need for client-based management software?
  • Designed to support the use of LDAP, Dynamic and aliases file recipient verification
  • Able to use SASL authentication (to apply robust security)?
  • Available in your local language?
  • A cloud service so requires no hardware
  • Operating system agnostic?
  • A no software solution?

SpamTitan checks every URL in an email against known blacklists - with 100% active web coverage.

How is SpamTitan Different?

SpamTitan doesn’t rely on a single filter type. Instead, this cloud-based service uses a multi-layered approach to identify spam at the email gateway. Machine learning algorithms are used as part of this multi-layered way to spot spam, thus ensuring that false positives are minimized.

The following tests are performed on each message:

  • Harvesting/dictionary attack protection: a well-used automated attack method that identifies legitimate email addresses in readiness for a spam campaign.
  • Collaborative spam fingerprint checks:  the TitanHQ community help to build a database of spam ‘fingerprints’ that are fed back into the spam filter to block spam messages
  • RBL tests (real-time blackhole list): checks for known spam IP addresses
  • SURBL tests: detects websites that are known to appear in spam emails
  • Bayesian analysis
  • Rule-based spam scoring
  • Allow and block list filters

Prevention is the best cure, so it is said. Email filtering solutions are the prevention that cures your organization of the onslaught of spam emails. However, you must deploy the best available email filtering solution so that your organization is protected. Having a multi-layered approach to email protection gives your organization the best chance against the insidious and evolving nature of email spam.

SpamTitan Plus – NEW Anti-Phishing solution now available

Looking for an email spam solution for your organization? Sign up for SpamTitan's Free 14-Day Trial.

SpamTitan - Email Spam Solution

Susan Morrow

Susan Morrow

  • DATA PROTECTION
  • EMAIL PHISING
  • EMAIL SECURITY

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What features are included in a spam solution?

A spam solution should provide alerts and guidance for users when they receive suspicious messages. It should also give administrators reports to review filtered spam messages and evaluate the solution’s effectiveness. False positives and false negatives interfere with the productivity and security of your environment, a good solution should trigger very few of both incorrect results. An administrator should be able to configure the email spam solution to allow and block specific messages.

How can I choose the right email spam solutions?

Always do your research before you implement email spam solutions in your environment. Getting a false sense of security from the wrong solution can lead to unforeseen vulnerabilities and eventual data loss or theft. An email spam solution should block spam and take input from users and administrators to determine when future messages should be blocked. Administrators should be able to configure the solution to allowlist and blocklist domains and senders. 

How does a spam prevention solution work?

Using artificial intelligence, a spam prevention solution analyzes messages based on the sender, domain, embedded links, and wording to determine if a message should be sent to the intended user’s inbox. Spam unnecessarily exhausts server storage, can be used for malicious purposes, and it’s generally a nuisance for users. For these reasons, businesses need a way to block it from reaching user inboxes. A spam prevention solution can be installed so administrators cover their entire user base.

Does spam protection include email spam filtering solutions?

Data loss prevention (DLP) includes cybersecurity infrastructure that protects data, and email spam filtering solutions are one component of effective data protection. Filtering out spam saves on storage space, but it also helps protect users from being an attack vector for malware, phishing, social engineering, credential theft, and ransomware. Spam protection solution should include several email filtering features to stop messages from reaching the intended recipient. 

How do I pick the right spam filtering solutions?

Several spam filtering solutions offer data protection, but SpamTitan has advanced spam filtering technology for more accuracy and a low risk of false negatives. SpamTitan uses artificial intelligence to analyze messages, senders, domains, and other signals to determine if a message could be malicious. Our threat intelligence technology integrated gives customers better zero-day detection against emerging email-based threats reaching the intended recipient’s inbox.

How can I find spam filter solutions?

Selecting the best spam filter solution requires research. Sign up for a free trial to evaluate a solution before permanently implementing it into an environment. Spam filter solutions detect various nuisance messages, but your chosen solution should also block malicious messages. False positives can’t be avoided entirely, but any good solution should be as accurate as possible with very few false positives to avoid employee productivity interruption and interference with customer communication.

Do anti-spam solutions block malicious messages?

Every anti-spam solution has its features, benefits, and disadvantages. Unfortunately, spam isn’t the only nuisance with email communication. Phishing, malware, malicious embedded links, and ransomware are threats that start with an email message. Anti-spam solutions have features and technology to analyze messages for spam and potential malicious intentions and block messages from reaching the intended targeted user. . In addition, businesses can use security awareness and phishing simulations 

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