Everything You Should Know About Email Security

By Haseeb Awan

Emails are routed via networks outside your company and do not follow your security perimeter. Without encryption, malicious parties can read, alter, and copy these messages whenever they want.

Today, email communication is what keeps the world going. The email has been incredibly dependable for many years, even though the pandemic has increased the importance of online communication channels.

Your IT department must keep your company's email system secure and protected. However, anyone in the organization is accountable for the CIA of email data. This responsibility emphasizes the importance of educating employees about email security.

As a result, email security is an essential feature for any successful business. It's not enough to send emails and jump on Zoom calls now and then. You must ensure that everything, from customer information to company strategies, is secure. 

We'll dive into our comprehensive email security guide below. Your company will be more productive and safe once you're done reading this.

What is Email Security?

Multiple technologies make up email security, which guards against email-related threats to employees, data, and businesses. Email is the most common method hackers use to gain access to company data, so all businesses must implement robust Email Security technology.

The Email Security market is vast, with advanced technologies to protect on-premise email networks and emerging technologies developed to protect against emerging challenges with the shift to cloud-based email infrastructures.

Email Security can guard against incoming email threats. Its goal is to prevent significant email security threats, including spam, malware and phishing attacks. Email security providers use machine learning to defend against complex threats like business email compromise and spear-phishing.

These technologies' primary goal is to protect your company's data and employees from threats that can be sent via email.

Breakdown of Email Security Systems

Secure Email Gateway

SEG protects your email communications by acting as a firewall. It prevents malicious emails from reaching your email servers, such as spam, malware, and phishing attacks. It scales throughout your organization and enables you to safeguard the inboxes of every user against harmful content.

Secure Email Gateways protect against viruses, spam, malware and phishing attacks while providing administrators with granular email control and reporting.

Post-Delivery Protection

With the help of your email server's Post-Delivery Protection feature, administrators and users can eliminate malicious emails from user inboxes. It gives you more control and security over your internal email system.

Post-Delivery Protection safeguards organizations against internal and external email security threats. Real-time detection and prevention of attacks are possible through email security.

Isolation

Isolation technologies are a barrier between the internet and your user's endpoints. It operates by encrypting all web traffic in a secure browser that is hosted in the cloud. The user experience is seamless while all web-based threats are eliminated as this traffic is reflected in the browser.

Isolation technologies work with email networks to protect against spear-phishing, credential theft and malicious URLs. To eliminate any risks, each email link and attachment is opened independently. When a user clicks on a link to a malicious site, it is displayed in read-only mode to prevent the user from inadvertently compromising account data.

Is Email Secure With Encryption and Filtering?

Most email programs use fundamental security measures like spam filtering and encryption, but email security risks change daily. While spam filters may block most phishing scams aimed at your inbox, we don't advise relying on Gmail, Thunderbird, or other well-known email services' built-in security features.

Before we get into the top email security issues and solutions, keep in mind that your cybersecurity practices are the foundation of your privacy. If you do not fully comprehend the threats to your data and use prudence in your online activities, no level of technology will be able to protect you.

Email Security Features

Email security services offer a wide range of email security solutions. The following are some of the most critical email security features.

Spam Filters

Marketing emails account for a sizable portion of the emails you receive daily. These emails fill your inbox to the point where you nearly miss important or official emails. Second, cybercriminals use these marketing emails to push their phishing emails. Unwary users may click on the malicious links in the phishing email or open such emails. It could have serious consequences, such as compromising personal or financial details.

You can install spam filters on your email account. It can assist in distinguishing between sales promotion and spam email by steering them to a separate email inbox. This prevents your regular email inbox from becoming clogged. Second, you get all important business emails.

The ability to schedule the removal of spam emails at set intervals is a crucial component of email security. It is optional to open them to delete them automatically.

Anti-virus Protection

Spam filters distinguish between spam and legitimate emails. These emails, however, are only kept in the inbox for a limited time before being automatically deleted. The user could always access their spam email inbox and choose to open these email attachments.

Hackers deliver malicious content via email attachments and bogus links in messages. Viruses may infiltrate their information systems if a user unintentionally clicks on or downloads such files. Anti-virus protection is essential in such situations. This software program checks each inbound and outgoing email for phishing emails and prevents it from entering or leaving the system, as appropriate. As a result, it provides greater security than spam filters because it detects and eliminates viruses that can disrupt computer network systems.

Content And Image Control

For phishing schemes, hackers use emails. Attachments to emails can include files, links, or even images. In recent years, there have been many phishing incidents where cybercriminals were able to spread malicious software using images. As a result, email security services must defend the infrastructures by scanning images. It is one of the essential facets of email security in the context of information security.

Data Encryption

When your email data is in transit, it is most vulnerable. In most cases, an open format is used for transmission. It enables cybercriminals to hijack these emails in transit and employ them to steal sensitive information. You could install spam filters on your system to recognize and separate spam emails. You could also install anti-virus software. These email security features, however, are useless if you lay bare your email content while it is in transit.

Encrypting data sent via email is the ideal solution. It is one of the most critical topics in cryptography systems for email security. To prevent a hacker from getting access to your outgoing emails, this security feature ensures that all of the data is encrypted. Advanced cryptography features protect the encryption of the recipient's specifics and the email message headers. As a result, cybercriminals cannot know the contents of your emails or the recipients' identities.

Email encryption makes it challenging for hackers to access the messages' contents. This email security feature must be installed on every business organization's computer network, as well as on the personal computer of every person. This is among the most effective methods for avoiding becoming a target of phishing scams.

Email's Importance In The Professional World

Did you know that more than four billion people use email worldwide? Email is a compositional requirement for both essential business communication and day-to-day life. Regarding email security, the stakes are very high. Spammers, cybercriminals, and hackers constantly use bots to find weak points. And once they're inside, the possibilities are endless.

But what is it that they want? There are several explanations why malicious people may wish to compromise your system:

Exploiting your healthy sender, IP reputation, and the domain is the most frequent cause of a cybersecurity breach. Spammers with your system access can mass-send emails from your IP address or server and exploit the image and trust of your domain to conduct phishing attacks on unwary receivers, which can be extremely expensive for your business and harm your email reputation.

Cybercriminals are also greedy for private user information, especially concerning politics and the healthcare industry. Not only are email addresses frequently stored on servers, but so are personal details, including your name, phone number, or even home address. As a result, data breaches are extremely risky because the data could be used against you.

Emails requesting password resets are intercepted, which is an even more problematic factor. You don't have to be a genius to see what an attacker can do with a password reset email. With the help of a password reset email, practically any account can be taken over in a matter of minutes. Because of this, companies urge users to use two-factor authentication.

Unfortunately, email is a double-edged sword. Today's businesses must deal with serious email security issues such as spam and phishing scams. It's a little trickier than it first appears to keep these risks at bay. After all, it only takes one incorrect email to result in a significant issue.

Today, the emails that are opened most frequently are news, business updates, and newsletters. You could also read letters from family members or specific industry promotions. You should be able to do it safely, no matter what.

Types of Email Security Threats

Your data will be vulnerable to various online threats, divided into two categories: inbox and transit threats, if your email security is inadequate.

Malicious emails that arrive in your inbox as threats can serve as a launchpad for other fraudulent behavior. They typically take the form of phishing emails with malicious links leading to sites run by hackers or containing malware downloads. 

"Phishing" messages use bait to entice the recipient into revealing personal information. Phishing scams come in various forms and sizes — smashing, bulk phishing, whaling, spear phishing and so on — but they all involve fake messages that appear to originate from a reliable sender. Phishing attacks must establish trust with the target to be successful.

Transit threats, also known as outbound email traffic, are among the main dangers to email security because they target emails as they travel to their intended recipient. The most widespread kind of transit threat is man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks.

When conducting a MitM cyberattack, a third party observes the exchange of data between sender and receiver and uses that data to create a specifically tailored phishing email. For instance, a hacker could use information from an email your bank sent to generate a forged email that makes it look exactly like the authorized email but contains a malicious link.

The link opens a webpage operated by the attacker that is made to resemble the target website closely. Entering one's login information on such a website merely sends the user's credentials to the attacking player for misuse rather than granting access to the desired website. Most of the time, MitM attackers use their devices as a middleman between the sender and the intended recipient.

In a BEC, the attacker poses as the company's CEO or another senior executive, a more specialized form of spear phishing. To give the email a more authentic look, the hacker, in this instance, is observing the employees' work habits. As a result, a reasonable amount of money or confidential information can be obtained through fraud.

Botnets are collections of devices under the hacker's influence and employed in massive phishing and spam campaigns. To overwhelm the systems, you can also observe these being used (this attack is also called Distributed Denial of Service attack). The more disturbance there is, the more presumably it is that a hacker will gain access to the network and cause havoc.

The key to adequate email security is a combination of both technological and human preventative measures. Primarily, you're attempting to stop all threats before they reach an inbox while also having enough resources to deal with the few who get through.

How Do You Identify Email Threats?

First and foremost, be cautious of ALL emails requesting payment. Always confirm whether a business email is credible with the organization, even if it seems to be from a reliable source like a financial institution or cable provider. You should only trust an inbound email if it seems to come from a random address or a person you know.

It would be best if you were cautious when using these forms of payment for any transaction, as they are generally the most popular ways for con artists and malicious actors to steal your money. Always be cautious when opening attachments from people you don't know.

Pay close attention to spelling and grammar as well. These scam emails frequently have poor messaging, which is a dead giveaway that the email is a hoax. Any email communication that requests login details, upfront deposits, Credit Card numbers, or similar information is usually fraudulent.

Finally, keep an eye out for emails claiming to contain evidence of wrongdoing against you. These are serious charges made to frighten you into moving swiftly to settle the dispute. Spammers who demand payment in emails that make these assertions are falsely claiming to have this information. When you receive them, don't panic or do anything rash.

If You Have Been a Ransomware Victim

We advise you against paying the ransom. Encouraging the creation and dissemination of spam email feeds the fire. Furthermore, there needs to be an assurance of paying the ransom to improve the situation. Additionally, avoid responding to any email scams with an unknown source. Simply engaging in communication will draw the hacker's attention to you, causing them to work tirelessly to take advantage of your curiosity.

Advantages Of Strong Email Security

People nowadays freely use email systems. Sadly, this may make businesses lax in protecting the information they exchange via email. This issue can have severe ramifications for businesses.

Organizations must prioritize email security to avoid this problem. This has several advantages for businesses.

Gives Protection Against Zero-Day Threats

To safeguard your company from a zero-day threat, email security is essential.

Avoiding a zero-day attack necessitates multiple layers of defense, one of which is email security. A reliable email system can aid in defending your business from this threat because hackers exploit this weakness by sending harmful links or attachments.

Detects Malicious Actors

Outbound messages can be screened for potential malware and many other threats with the aid of email security. Additionally, it gives your security division more power over outgoing email messages, enabling them to identify hacked accounts or other unusual user behavior and take appropriate action.

Employers who send or receive bulk email messages can be identified and warned about using an efficient email security platform. This activity may indicate that an account has been compromised.

Protects Against Spam and Phishing

You can safeguard your business against developing phishing scams with a robust phishing protection solution. To deceive employees into divulging sensitive data, attackers send out an email that looks to be from a genuine user. These could be credit card numbers, bank account details, or account passwords.

You can identify unwanted spam and phishing emails if you have advanced and powerful email security measures. These safeguards enable your employees to restrict or otherwise respond to emails containing potentially harmful content.

Keeps Ransomware Attacks at Bay

A thorough email security strategy for your company will help you stop ransomware attacks. In these attacks, access to a company's computer systems is gained and restricted by encryption. Scammers only give victims access after they pay a ransom.

Through email, malicious hackers launch ransomware attacks. You can stop the attack by blocking malicious links and attachments that have been turned into weapons.

When you use email security solutions, you can spot online dangers, such as spam and advanced ransomware.

Even attacks involving Business Email Compromise can be defended against by email security. This is a hoax in which cybercriminals target high-level workers for fraudulent activities.

Top 12 Email Security Tips

Create A Secure Password For Your Email

The number of people who use the password "123456" or "abcdefg" will surprise you. They could also send "123456789" in total. Since more than 3 million people use both passwords together, we should discuss this.

This applies not only to corporate email security but also to personal accounts. Consider how most robbery attempts are directed toward picking the lock rather than destroying your door. It's the cleanest route to your door, even though it's theft. Your password accomplishes the very same thing in the end. More people will attempt to hack your account if your password is simple.

Some platforms recommend the following strategies for managing passwords:

Include both upper and lower case characters.

Add numeric as well as special characters.

Avoid using birthdays, names, hometowns, or other personal information.

Instead of words, use phrases.

Implement Two-Factor Authentication

This appears to be a job for a professional computer user, but it isn't that complex, to begin with. Adding a second protective shield to your account is like adding a door lock. Fortunately, almost all email platform provides two-factor authentication; however, if your current setup doesn't yet support it, feel free to switch to another email provider.

At its very core, regardless if a hacker is successful in guessing your "123456" password, they would be prevented by your two-factor authentication, which requires them to enter a code before they are given access to your emails. You usually receive these codes via SMS,  voice calls, email, or time-based one-time password (TOTP) apps.

 Keep Track of Your Email Practices

This is analogous to practising your foundations. It may appear simple, but it pays off in the long haul. Most likely, if you're a professional, you use your work emails throughout the day. It is equally important to eat and drink in the modern world. In light of that, you would need to keep a record of your email activities.

To begin, you should be aware of the following:

  • How many marketing emails have you signed up for?
  • How frequently do you send emails and messages in a day?
  • Do emails from addresses outside your company take up most of your time?

You may not give it much thought, but each question is linked to risk factors for your business. 

Start Employing Reverse DNS

The recipient's server will run a reverse DNS query each time your server and that recipient's server interact to send an email. To ensure that their records independently match yours, their server requests your Domain name and IP address. Although reverse DNS is not a mandatory requirement but is more crucial for the recipient's email security, a server may deny your request, which could hurt your timely delivery.

Be Wary of Phishing Scams

"Phishing emails," named after a renowned outdoor activity, is among the many methods hackers use to steal user credentials. Similar to fishing, these emails lure you in by asking you to "log in" to your account when you're giving them your email address, password, and perhaps other personal data.

Most phishing emails claim to be from one of your preferred service providers, like PayPal or your bank. Business email security will inevitably be compromised if you don't heed the email address, vocal inflexion, and even the syntax of the email.

Never Open Attachments Unless You've Scanned Them First

It's important to emphasize this. Your business account will typically only be used for sending and receiving for business purposes. From the finance team, you may be anticipating a project breakdown. Although it's only sometimes the case, a few emails come from unknown senders and even include files you can open.

This may pique your interest. Furthermore, you cannot simply throw the email in the junk because it may even be an official email. The good news is that you can now combat this by using email security tools or strengthening email security measures. Anti-virus and anti-malware software, for instance, let you scan these attachments. At the very least, you won't wait too long to delete the message and possibly permanently block the user if these programs alert you that there appears to be a problem. Who can say? If you had opened that file, there was a high possibility of a breach.

Make Account Management A Priority

Account management can rapidly become a significant security risk as a business grows. User settings provide the ability to maintain organization and, most importantly, security for account owners.

Use the following security procedures to ensure the highest level of protection for your email account:

  • Reduce user seats: Your security risk multiplies as your user base increases. Therefore, consider whether allowing access to a user who hasn't logged in for more than a year is necessary. You can determine how active and engaged your users are by looking at your dashboard. It's time for some adjustments if the activity is low.
  • Create a role-based access control system: To ensure that users can only access the required tools, you can configure role-based access controls. It would help if you established a user access manager who will serve as a gatekeeper, granting people the necessary permissions upon their joining and updating them upon their departure or change in role. It will be easier to monitor this procedure if you take the time to make and maintain a spreadsheet of the people who have access.
  • Set the session timeout: Although timeouts can be annoying, they serve a vital function by preventing attackers from utilizing an already active user session. Consider how much time a user might be idling while completing a task, then assign the appropriate time value.
  • Please keep track of user sessions: View all active users and their IP addresses (locations), along with the level of security activated in the control panel to keep track of user sessions. Administrators are responsible for keeping an eye out for security threats, such as users who use tenuous login authentication, user sessions and suspicious activity.

Never Use Public WiFi to Access Emails

This is comparable to publicly announcing your Facebook password in a crowded mall. Public WiFi networks are never safe, as you may already be aware, in the name of all internet service providers. The hacker could have entered your network if you had just invited him in.

These malicious hackers only need a simple software to determine the types of information transmitted through that network. To mitigate this, incentivize your coworkers and peers to use cellular data whenever they are away from the office. The slower speed is fine. You're good to go as long as you know it's better than public WiFi services.

Regularly Change Your Password

Because it's difficult to remember new passwords, you might be accustomed to not changing them, but the business world isn't lenient. Change your passwords frequently—one of the most straightforward email security precautions to implement.

Every year, there are data breaches due to password leaks, and cyber criminals usually wait a while before retaliating. Consider changing your password once a year, which is a bare minimum, to strengthen your defense. Remember, passwords are your first line of defence.

Exercise Caution When Using Electronic Devices

A small number of businesses now support the bring your own device policy. As the name implies, this permits employees to use their laptops and other personal devices for work-related purposes.

But if your device needs the proper email security solutions and precautions, this isn't all that advantageous. Just be cautious of your own devices. This includes refraining from logging into your personal and professional email accounts on every gadget you come across. Be careful when using public laptop computers because some gadgets can now remember what you just typed.

Configure Security Protocols for Emails  

Email security protocols primarily provide a business with more ways to ward off hackers, greatly reducing the likelihood that their workforce will even be faced with the issue.

When talking about email security, it's critical to plan ahead of time, and the correct approach can be a highly efficient way to do so. These security protocols prevent thieves from arbitrarily using brand names and hackers from thinking up clever subject lines to draw readers into the investigation.

For businesses, it's a great way to make themselves seem more trustworthy to outsiders. Customers and suppliers will start to view businesses as credible when they have a trustworthy way to confirm that all outgoing messages are secure.

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are the three most commonly used types:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) 

The Sender Policy Framework (SPF) detects and prevents spoof emails. It's an open standard validation through which you can locate and verify the sender's origins in order to reduce the volume of potentially harmful messages.

To determine whether a domain is secure enough to receive messages, the mail exchanger uses SPF. The message won't be delivered to the recipient if this protocol cannot verify the domain. SPF seeks to eliminate the incentive for employees to read beyond the subject line.

This protocol, called a TXT record hinders the ability to impersonate another person. It would therefore be extremely challenging for a hacker to push a message through to a worker's inbox if they were trying to pull a social engineering scam in which they pretended to be the company CEO.

  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

The TXT record email protocol, DKIM, also uses public-key cryptography to verify domain names. With the help of pairs of public and private keys, email servers and communications are verified. It guarantees that every message received either belongs to the sender own or has been authenticated by the domain owner.

DKIM aims to guarantee the security of all incoming emails and the unhindered delivery of all outgoing messages to their intended recipients. Each message contains a unique identifier (such as the From line, etc.) that enables the recipient to instantly ascertain whether or not the sender is authorized.

Organizations can rest easy knowing that incoming messages, whether they are coming from a single domain or several domains, are authenticated using DKIM. Additionally, the email protocol can be set up to always accept messages from verified senders.

  • Domain-based Message Authentication (DMARC)

SPF and DKIM are combined into a single framework called DMARC, which stands for domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance. It establishes whether the message recipient will see the same domain as the one being used. For example, before deciding what to do with a message sent by someone posing as Google, this protocol would check to see if the domain belongs to a well-known search engine.

DMARC uses the following standard policies:

  • None: This indicates that all emails sent from a specific domain are treated equally.
  • Quarantine: Emails sent under this policy are quarantined and usually sent to the spam folder instead of the inbox.
  • Reject: If a message is rejected, the recipient will never receive it because the message is eliminated.

Therefore, if DMARC had a none policy, it might classify as safe all emails sent by a vendor's CTO (regardless of what is sent). To distinguish between spam and non-spam, quarantine will apply predetermined criteria. This policy may result in an important message ending in spam, but it can be recovered. As a result of being regarded as either dangerous or irrelevant, a reject message won't be delivered to the intended recipient.

The goal of DMARC is for the sender and recipient to work together to verify every communication. Any received message undergoes an identity check as part of the protocol's operation. This protocol is regarded as the best protocol for anti-spoofing and anti-phishing.

When Finished, Sign Out Of Your Email Account

This concludes the list of the top 12 best email security practices in an excellent (and appropriate) manner. When you have completed your assigned hours and had a productive day, you should give a pat on the back and sign out of your email.  

Generally, practice using your own device so that, if necessary, you are comfortable using unfamiliar ones.

Email Frauds Global Impact

Email fraud may have a significant impact on business revenue. Around $4.5 billion is lost to brands worldwide each year due to malware spam and phishing. These additional charges are the result of the following:

  • Fraud charges are being investigated in connection with the theft of credit card email traffic.
  • Withdrawals of money from victims' accounts who engage in active online trading.
  • Employee effort in handling such malicious activity.
  • Support calls from customers, employees, and partners, as well as emails from information devices.
  • Attackers searching for phishing opportunities result in lost revenue from email marketing.

Even Brands pay more the longer powerful phishing attacks are active. The aware revenue erodes brand reputation. One of the main issues with email security for businesses is phishing because it can result in significant losses. It has the power to demolish a collaboration and not ever rise again.

Customers, staff, and partners enjoy email communication with brands but stop using it as soon as trust is lost. After being a victim of phishing or spoofing, more than 40% of customers even say they are less likely to engage with them in the future. Phished brands can seriously harm their email marketing campaigns and reduce business revenue.

Conclusion

Nobody should have access to your business email. If you can avoid it, please avoid it because websites are now everywhere requesting your email addresses. However, some have gone above and beyond to expose you to even greater risks by selling your information to unaffiliated businesses. Your company will benefit from a solid communication and marketing foundation thanks to email security. Without it, you risk disclosing crucial data to inappropriate people.

Update your phishing filter, update your anti-virus program, and employ data encryption techniques to improve email security. Regular updates to email security are also necessary for email marketing.

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