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Email Security Explained

An open email on a laptop

February 23, 2023

Email security is your first line of defence against threats to computers and networks that come via email. Email is a common way that malware and hackers find their way into computer systems. As such, it is important for any individual or organisation to have good email security in place. This is even more crucial if you handle sensitive data like customer information. There are legal requirements for businesses to protect this type of data, so email security is a must.

 

What is email security?

 

Email security is the process of preventing unauthorised access, loss or compromise to email communications and accounts. An organisation’s email security posture can be enhanced with various tools and policies. These will offer more robust protection against threats like spam, malware and phishing attacks (all common attacks that happen via email).

Cybercriminals often use email as the means of staging an attack because it is a simple entry point to other devices and accounts. It also relies largely on human error, which can be easily exploited by putting out large volumes of attacks. All these attackers need is one misguided click and it can bring about a devastating cybersecurity crisis for an entire organisation.

 

Why is email security important?

 

For more than 20 years, email has served as the main tool for communication in the workplace. Amazingly, more than 333 billion emails are sent and received worldwide each day. Employees receive 120 emails every day on average. This means an abundance of opportunities for cybercriminals to attack business emails. These attacks include:

 

  • Email Compromise Attacks.
  • Phishing Scams.
  • Malware.

 

When such attacks succeed, valuable information can be stolen from businesses. The majority of cyberattacks begin with malicious emails. In 2020, cybercrime amounted to a total cost of $4.1 billion in the USA alone, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Centre. In the UK, the NCSC received 6.4 million reports of email scams through 2022, leading to the removal of 67,300 scam URLs. Business email compromise caused the most damage and the consequences were often severe. Losses include money, data and reputation.

 

What are the benefits of email security?

 

Businesses of every size are waking up to the importance of having a robust email security procedure in place. When properly implemented, it can safeguard employee communications. Reducing cyber threats in this way is important because:

 

  • It helps protect a company in many ways. Brand, reputation and bottom line are all fundamental to a thriving business and they can all be compromised by email attacks. Email security offers protection against devastating costs, disruption of operations and other severe impacts.
  • It can boost productivity. A strong email security protocol can eliminate many potential disruptions to operations. Cyberattacks, at the very least, lead to costly downtime. If you have an effective solution in place, security teams can respond more quickly to ever-more sophisticated threats.
  • Email security can ensure you are in full compliance with data protection laws. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one such law. Failure to comply with the regulations can have significant consequences.
  • Email security can prevent you from incurring intangible costs relating to cyberattacks. These include things like legal fees, regulatory fines and business disruption.

 

Email Security Best Practices

 

Email security is an ever-evolving practice as the range of email threats continues to expand and develop. Enterprises and the firms that provide email security continue to come up with new best practices to support communication and prevent threats. Some of the top principles include:

 

  • Educating employees with regular training. This helps minimise the risk of human error. It also equips employees – your first line of defence – with an understanding of the importance of email security.
  • Investment in user awareness training. This way, users will be able to spot signs of a phishing attack and other types of malicious emails.
  • Implementation of an email security solution that delivers advanced threat protection. Many email platforms offer some level of defence but this can be upgraded.
  • Usage of multifactor authentication (MFA) to prevent accounts from being compromised. When users must provide more than one way to sign in, it helps keep organisational data secure.
  • Reviewing protections against attacks by using tools like impersonation and spoofing.
  • Using authenticated systems for high-risk transactions and processes.

 

Common Types of Email Threats

 

Organisations face email threats in various forms. They can range from business email compromise and account takeover to spear phishing and vishing. From a broad perspective, the following group types cover the main spectrum of email threats:

 

  • Malware: This is short for malicious software. Its main objective is to damage or disrupt computer systems. Common forms include viruses, ransomware and spyware.
  • Phishing: This is when an attacker pretends to be a trusted individual or organisation. They attempt to trick victims into handing over confidential information like login credentials or card details. There are different types, like whaling, spear phishing and vishing.
  • Data Exfiltration: This is when data is transferred from an organisation via malicious programming. Email gateways help avoid this happening without authorisation.
  • Spam: Unsolicited messages sent in bulk without the recipient’s consent are called spam. Businesses use spam for marketing purposes but scammers use it to spread malware or enact phishing scams.
  • Impersonation: This is when cybercriminals pose as a trusted individual or organisation to secure data or money through email. One example is when a scammer compromises an email account and then uses it to contact people who will believe it is a trusted entity.

     

    What email security services are there?

     

    Email security services offer support for the protection of email accounts. The best approach is to implement and maintain an email security policy that you share with employees. Common email security services offer additional tools for protection, such as:

     

    • Data encryption for securing email communications that cybercriminals may intercept.
    • Detonation capabilities to scan all emails for malicious links/attachments.
    • Spam filters to keep unwanted emails out of the inbox.
    • Image and content control functions to ensure attached/embedded images do not contain malware.
    • Authentication systems that verify the identity of senders.

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    Email threats are always growing in sophistication. This is why organisations must implement robust email security measures to protect themselves. Businesses should consider email security solutions that enhance threat protection across different workloads for the most comprehensive protection.

     

    Why choose Eventura for a your cybersecurity?

     

    With over 20 years experience in cybersecurity, we know our stuff. Our team of cybersecurity experts and complete a full audit of your business and identify any areas of weakness, which could leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks.

    We were even mentioned in the Governments National Cyber Security Centre (NCSN) Annual Review 2020 when we were chosen to test their “Exercise in a Box” designed to help small businesses prepare and respond to cyberthreats. You can read the article here.

    There is a common misconception that cyberattacks don’t happen to SMEs but this couldn’t be further from the truth. With our expert knowledge, we can help you protect your business’s future from the ever increasing threat of cybercriminals.

    If you would like to speak to one of our cybersecurity experts or request a cybersecurity audit, you can request a free call back here.

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