Because of the varied nature of risks to data stored in emails, organizations should implement a range of email protection software that enables them to adopt a multi-layered approach to data security.
One of the challenges of protecting data from unauthorized access, theft, and loss is how to protect data contained in emails. Email is a primary attack vector for cybercriminals; and although many organizations have implemented email filters that can prevent the delivery of some malicious emails, many filters lack features to alert users to risks when malicious emails evade detection.
Email-borne threats such as phishing, malware, and ransomware are not the only threats to data contained in emails. Man-in-the-middle attacks enable cybercriminals to intercept emails in transit and extract data and exploitable credentials from them. Unlike phishing emails, no interaction between a user and an email is necessary for a man-in-the-middle attack to be successful.
Further risks to data exist when emails are not copied and archived in real-time. Should an email be accidently deleted, or an outage occur, it may never be possible to recover the email and the data on it. In some industries, not only might the loss of data impact operations, but the failure to maintain an immutable copy of an email could constitute a regulatory violation.
Why Many Email Filters Fail to Minimize Risk
Although the effectiveness of any email filter is dependent on how it is configured, many filters fail to minimize risk by lacking capabilities such as greylisting that can prevent the delivery of malicious emails even before they are checked for authenticity. Cybercriminals have known for a long time how to bypass authenticity checks, but greylisting can prevent them even reaching this stage.
Additionally, the majority of filters check emails against blacklists that work retrospectively inasmuch as they are only updated once spam has been reported to the email protection software vendor. More advanced email filters include Bayesian analysis, heuristics, and machine learning processes to block new varieties of phishing and Zero Day attacks before they are delivered to users´ inboxes.
One further capability that can help minimize risk is URL protection. This is a feature of email protection software that rewrites embedded hypertext so users can see the destination URL before clicking on a link. URL protection also provides time-of-click analysis to prevent users clicking on links that appear safe on delivery, but that later weaponized with malware or ransomware.
Email Encryption Protects Data In Transit
Most email communications are protected in transit by Transport Layer Security (TLS). TLS creates an encrypted connection between a user and a server – however, data within the channel are not encrypted and travel from point to point in plain text. If a hacker is able to break into the encrypted connection, they have access to the email, its attachments, and any sensitive data contained within.
Researchers have found vulnerabilities in TLS 1.2 (and earlier versions) which could allow a man-in-the-middle attacker to acquire a shared session key and decrypt SSL/TLS traffic. Although the latest TLS 1.3 is faster and more secure than previous versions, TLS 1.3 is not supported by all services, so the likelihood is an email will travel through a TLS 1.2 connection somewhere along its journey.
To protect in-transit data against man-in-the-middle attacks, organizations should take advantage of encryption services that encrypt email data. This type of email protection software ensures that, if an attacker acquires a shared session key and intercepts an email in transit, any data contained within the email will be unreadable, undecipherable, and unusable.
Real-Time Archiving Prevents Data Loss
While most email protection software focuses on preventing bad actors from infiltrating networks, deploying malware, or intercepting data, it is important not to overlook real-time archiving. Real-time archiving prevents data loss by copying each email as it passes through the mail server and storing an immutable version until it is no longer required for operational or compliance purposes.
Real-time archiving prevents data loss attributable to accidental deletions, misfiling, and system outages; and is more effective than periodic email back-ups that need to be restored in full to recover emails and which may not fulfill regulatory compliance requirements (because emails can be deleted or altered between backups with no audit trail recorded).
This type of email protection software also has the advantage of increasing productivity inasmuch as it can reduce calls to the IT Help Desk for recovering or finding lost emails and accelerate searches when immutable copies of emails are required to comply with GDPR access requests, compliance audits, and the eDiscovery requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Email Protection Software from TitanHQ
TitanHQ offers organizations a range of email protection software to maximize data protection and minimize risks attributable to unauthorized access, theft, and loss. From SpamTitan email filters with greylisting and URL protection capabilities to EncryptTitan software for encrypting emails in transit and ArcTitan archiving software, organizations can adopt a multi-layered approach to data security.
To find out more about TitanHQ´s email protection software, do not hesitate to get in touch and request a demo of any of the technologies featured in this article. Our team of sales technicians will be happy to answer any questions you have about email protection software and suggest ways in which your organization can best ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.