Email is one of the most common vectors by which cybercriminals gain access to corporate networks and steal sensitive data. This makes email security a vital component of every enterprise cybersecurity strategy.

The Impacts of the Pandemic on Email Security

The COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic impact on all aspects of business, including cybersecurity. The sudden shift to remote work caught many organizations unprepared, forcing them to rapidly deploy and expand infrastructure to support a remote workforce. Often, the focus was on ensuring that the infrastructure was capable of supporting the new remote workers and not on security.

Cybercriminals have taken advantage of how the pandemic has impacted businesses. Cyber attacks increasingly are targeting remote work infrastructure such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and the remote desktop protocol (RDP).

During the pandemic, phishing attacks have also been on the rise as it provided cybercriminals with many pretext options to use in their attacks. Additionally, employees working from home do not always have the same protections as when they are working from the office.

The Importance of Email Security

Email is one of the most commonly used attack vectors for cybercriminals. The ubiquity of email in the workplace means that most employees use it and are conditioned to trust it, making it a technique with a high probability of reaching the target. Additionally, phishing and other email-based attacks are easy to perform and can have significant payoffs for an attacker.

These factors make email security a vital component of an enterprise cybersecurity strategy. Email-based attacks work well for attackers, so they are unlikely to be abandoned any time soon. Only by deploying comprehensive, targeted email protections will organizations protect themselves from the email threat.

Types of Email Security Threats

Email security threats can come in different forms. Some of the most common email-based attacks include:

  1. Spam: Spam is unsolicited emails sent out in massive blasts. While modern spam filters catch and block most spam emails, it is possible that one might slip through and deliver malicious content to a user’s inbox.
  2. Phishing: Phishing emails use social engineering, spoofing, and other techniques to trick the user into doing something for the attacker. Phishing attacks can be used to accomplish a variety of goals, including stealing user credentials, data, or money.
  3. Business Email Compromise (BEC): BEC attacks are a specific form of phishing designed to steal money from an organization. The phisher will impersonate someone high in an organization’s hierarchy and use the status and authority of that individual to instruct an employee to send money to an attacker-controlled account.
  4. Malware Delivery: Emails can carry malware directly in their attachments or point recipients to malicious sites that deliver malware. Phishing emails are one of the leading delivery mechanisms for ransomware, trojans, and other types of malware.
  5. System Takeover: A successful phishing attack may compromise user credentials or deliver malware to a recipient’s computer, enabling the attacker to take over that computer. The computer can then be added to a botnet for use in distributed denial of service (DDoS) and other attacks.

Best Practices to Ensure Email Security

Implementing email security best practices is essential to protecting the organization against email-borne threats. Some of the more important email security controls that companies should put in place include:

  • Educate Employees: Most email-based attacks are designed to trick the recipient into doing something that hurts them and helps the attacker. Training employees to recognize phishing emails and to appropriately report suspected attacks is essential to managing an organization’s cybersecurity risks.
  • Deploy Anti-Phishing Solutions: Anti-phishing solutions have the ability to identify the red flags that indicate potential phishing emails and to block malicious content from reaching the recipient’s inbox. By deploying anti-phishing solutions, an organization minimizes the risk that a thoughtless click will lead to a cybersecurity incident.
  • Implement Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Phishing campaigns are commonly designed to steal and exfiltrate sensitive information from an organization via email. DLP solutions can help to prevent these attacks by inspecting outgoing emails for potentially sensitive content.
  • Use Safe Browsing Solutions: Phishing emails commonly attempt to direct users to browse to a malicious link that points to a phishing site. Safe browsing solutions can perform URL filtering to block users from visiting any known bad URLs or sites hosting phishing content.

Secure Your Email with Avanan

Check Point and Avanan believe that a prevention-focused approach is best for email security. By blocking malicious emails from reaching the intended recipient’s mailbox, they eliminate the risk that these email threats post to the organization.

You’re welcome to sign up for a free demo to learn about our anti-phishing and account takeover prevention solutions.