Email is the most common vector used in cyberattacks and email-based attacks have become much more sophisticated. Advanced email security solutions are now needed by businesses to block email threats, and a defense-in-depth strategy for email security is now strongly recommended. In this article we will explain how email security solutions work, and how to address email security weaknesses to prevent them being exploited by threat actors.
Email is the Most Commonly Used Attack Vector
Email-based attacks are easy to perform, are low cost, and often successful. They work because they target employees who, being human, are prone to make mistakes. Cyber actors conduct phishing attacks to trick people into divulging their credentials. Email accounts contain a wealth of sensitive data that can be stolen, and phishing can provide threat actors with the foothold in networks needed to conduct a more extensive compromise. Email is one of the most common ways of distributing malware and ransomware, either through attachments or links to malicious websites where malware is silently downloaded.
Cyber threat actors are constantly changing their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) in their attacks on corporate networks, so advanced email security solutions are required that can not only identify and block common email-based attacks but also detect attacks that use previously unseen techniques and distribute novel malware variants.
How do Email Security Solutions Work?
Email security solutions act as a filter for all inbound emails and perform a series of checks, all of which must be passed for an email to be delivered. Email security solutions use blacklists of known malicious domains and IP addresses. If an email is sent from an email address that has been used for malicious activity in the past, the email will be rejected or quarantined.
Checks are performed on the content of messages using heuristics to score emails based on the likelihood of an email being spam or malicious. Tolerance levels can then be set based on the level of risk a particular employee user group faces. Email security solutions are fed threat intelligence to ensure they protect users from emerging threats and incorporate antivirus engines to protect against known malware, with advanced email security solutions also including behavior-based detection mechanisms – sandboxing for instance – for identifying novel malware variants. Embedded hyperlinks in emails are checked to make sure they do not redirect users to malicious websites.
Outbound scanning is not always included but is important. Malicious insiders can use email accounts to distribute malware or send sensitive corporate data externally. Advanced email security solutions include outbound scanning and have data loss prevention (DLP) capabilities and can identify sensitive data types in emails and stop that data from being sent externally. Outbound email scanning is also used to identify mailboxes that have been compromised in phishing attacks.
Email Security Solutions are No Longer Enough!
With advanced email security solutions in place, it is possible to block a very high percentage of spam and malicious emails; however, it is not possible to block all email threats without also blocking an unacceptable number of genuine emails. To protect against email (and other) cyber threats while ensuring business-critical emails are delivered, a defense-in-depth approach to security is recommended.
Defense-in-depth involves deploying multiple overlapping layers of security, so if one security measure fails to block a threat, others will be in place to provide protection. Email security solutions should be augmented with other security solutions that work seamlessly with each other, the most important of which are detailed below.
Spam and phishing emails often contain hyperlinks to malicious websites. Email protection solutions check these links against blacklists, but often multiple redirects are used to bypass those solutions. DNS filtering, a type of web filtering technology, improves protection against malicious links by providing time-of-click protection. DNS filters scan websites for malicious content and can block malware downloads from malicious and compromised websites.
Security Awareness Training
Some malicious emails will inevitably be delivered to inboxes, so it is important to provide security awareness training to the workforce. Security awareness training should be conducted to teach employees security best practices and eliminate risky behaviors, and to train employees on how to identify and avoid phishing and scam emails. Phishing simulations are also useful for testing the effectiveness of training and identifying employees who are susceptible to email attacks.
Email security solutions protect against email threats but will not stop emails from being intercepted in transit. If emails are protected with end-to-end encryption, the recipient must authenticate to view the contents of the email, ensuring only the intended recipient can view the email and any attached data.
Defense-in-depth Cybersecurity Solutions from TitanHQ
TitanHQ has developed a suite of cybersecurity solutions for businesses that work seamlessly with each other to provide defense-in-depth protection against email and web-based cyber threats. These best-in-class, award-winning solutions are quick and easy to implement, simple to use and provide cost-effective protection for businesses. The solutions are also delivered through an MSP-centric platform that makes it easy for MSPs to deliver defense-in-depth protection to their customers.
SpamTitan Email Security
SpamTitan provides advanced protection against the full range of email threats and has been independently verified as detecting 99.99% of spam and blocking 100% of known malware. Behavior-based detection is provided by a Bitdefender-powered sandbox, and outbound email scanning includes data loss protection technology. SpamTitan integrates seamlessly with cloud apps such as Office 365 to greatly improve email security.
WebTitan DNS Filter
The WebTitan DNS filter increases protection against malicious links in emails, providing time-of-click protection to block access to known malicious websites and any category of website that businesses want to block. The WebTitan DNS filter sanitizes the internet with no latency, can decrypt, inspect, and re-encrypt HTTPS sites, and can be configured to block downloads of risky files from the Internet.
SafeTitan Security Awareness Training
The SafeTitan security awareness training and phishing simulation platform is used to address human cybersecurity weaknesses and includes an extensive library of training content for teaching employees security best practices and training them how to identify phishing emails and other email threats. SafeTitan is the only behavior-driven security awareness solution that delivers security awareness training in real-time. The platform includes an automated phishing simulation platform with thousands of templates, which are regularly updated to reflect the current threat landscape.
EncryptTitan Email Encryption
EncryptTitan email encryption ensures business emails can only be read by the intended recipients. The platform is a fully featured email encryption solution that provides all the necessary tools to meet federal, state, and industry regulations, and can be used to prevent employees from sharing unsecured data. EncryptTitan supports keyword-based encryption to ensure that all sensitive emails are automatically encrypted.
ArcTitan Email Archiving
ArcTitan email archiving covers an important aspect of email security that is often neglected by businesses. ArcTitan supports disaster recovery processes and helps to ensure business continuity by keeping email data constantly available, even during a mail server outage. Emails are automatically sent to a cloud archive where they are securely stored and backed up, ensuring emails can never be lost and can always be quickly found.
If you want to improve email security and strengthen your security posture, give TitanHQ a call for more information. All TitanHQ products are available on a free trial, and product demonstrations can be arranged on request.