Because of its ubiquity and inherent vulnerabilities, email is a popular vector for cyber attacks. These attacks can include:
- Malware, such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and spyware. When attacks using these vectors succeed, an attacker can take control of workstations or servers. This access can then be exploited to compromise otherwise secure information.
- Spam, which can be disruptive to worker productivity, and can also serve as a transportation method for malware.
- Phishing, which entails the use of computer or social engineering tricks to convince victims to disclose sensitive information, or to provide access to sensitive systems.
Email security is the set of methods used for keeping email correspondence and accounts safe from these attacks.
Ensuring Email Security
Email security is a multi-layered discipline involving several types of software and technology. There are multiple ways to ensure the security of enterprise email accounts – but it’s important to combine employee education with comprehensive security policies and procedures.
Recommended policies and procedures include:
- Password Cycling: Require employees to use strong passwords and mandate frequent password changes. This helps to ensure that, even if a password is compromised, its use can be limited.
- Secure Login: Ensure that webmail applications use encryption. This is standard functionality, but critical to prevent emails from being intercepted by malicious actors.
- Spam Filtering: Implement scanners and other tools to scan messages and block emails containing malware or other malicious files before they reach end users. Even relatively benign spam – such as marketing offers – can hamper productivity if employees have to manually remove it from their inboxes.
- Spyware Protection: A robust cybersecurity program or a dedicated spyware removal service that can dispose of malicious email attachments and repair altered files/settings.
- Email Encryption: Encryption technologies such as OpenPGP let users encrypt emails between sender and recipient. This is a necessity for businesses where sensitive information is shared frequently via communication platforms like email.
- Employee Education: Engage employees in ongoing security education around email security risks and how to avoid falling victim to phishing attacks over email. Some companies send their own employees mock phishing emails in order to test their resistance to these attacks.
In addition to the implementation of policies and procedures that promote email security, companies can encourage their employees to follow best practices to guarantee the security of their email accounts. Employees should be encouraged to:
- Avoid opening attachments, and avoid clicking on hyperlinks without checking them first. (Many companies even suggest that employees use browser bookmarks for navigation, rather than clicking links in emails.)
- Frequently change password, and follow standard best practices for complexity and length.
- Avoid sharing passwords with anyone – even co-workers or friends.
- Avoid sharing of sensitive information within emails - only send it to trusted individuals, and only when required.
- Use secure VPN software to access corporate email when working remotely.
- Don’t access company email or sensitive information when using public wi-fi connections.
It’s important that users and organizations take measures to guarantee the security of their email accounts against known attacks, and it’s especially important that a proper infrastructure is in place to stop any unauthorized attempts at accessing accounts or communications. Users are especially susceptible to phishing attacks against businesses, because they sidestep technical security protections, and instead lean into users themselves to expose weaknesses. This is why email security solutions should start with proper techniques like encryption, spyware detection, and login security. But it’s equally important that employees are educated on the proper steps that should be taken to protect email.
- White Paper: Comprehensive Email Filtering
- White Paper: Comprehensive Email Protection
- White Paper: Comprehensive Security in The Age of Evolving Email-Borne Threats
How Barracuda Can Help
With email remaining as the leading threat vector for ransomware, phishing, data theft, and other advanced threats, you can't afford to be left unprotected.
Barracuda Essentials is an all-in-one cloud-based email security, backup, archiving and eDiscovery for Office 365 and Microsoft Exchange. Combining our award-winning email security with tamper-proof email archive Barracuda Essentials ensures compliance and simplified litigation searches.
Part of mainitaing high email security is teaching your users to idenity and properly react to maclicious emails. Barracuda PhishLine helps train employees to recognize and stop phishing emails, eliminating the human error aspect of email fraud. This powerful simulation and training tool is fully customizable so you can tailor the exercises to your employees' unique needs.
Barracuda Sentinel provides powerful A.I.-based protection from spear phishing, email fraud, and other common phishing attacks. By finding phishing emails already in your inbox and scanning every new email, Barracuda Sentinel can stop even the most personalized attacks.
Barracuda Email Security Gateway is an email security gateway that manages and filters all inbound and outbound email traffic to protect organizations from email-borne threats and data leaks. As a complete email management solution, the Barracuda Email Security Gateway lets organizations encrypt messages and leverage the cloud to spool email if mail servers become unavailable.
Have questions or want more information about Email Security? Get in touch right now!