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.
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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 Email Protection is a comprehensive, easy-to-use email security solution that delivers gateway defense, API-based impersonation and phishing protection, incident response, data protection, compliance and user awareness training. Barracuda Email Protection includes:
Barracuda Email Gateway Defense quickly filters and sanitizes every email before it is delivered to your mail server to protect you from email-borne threats. Using virus scanning, spam scoring, real-time intent analysis, URL link protection, reputation checks, and other techniques, Barracuda provides you with the best possible level of protection.
Barracuda Impersonation Protection protects against business email compromise, account takeover, spear phishing, and other cyber fraud. It combines artificial intelligence and deep integration with Microsoft Office 365 into a comprehensive cloud-based solution.
Impersonation Protection’s unique API-based architecture lets the AI engine study historical email and learn users’ unique communication patterns. It blocks phishing attacks that harvest credentials and lead to account takeover, and enables real-time remediation.
Barracuda Security Awareness Training is an email security awareness and phishing simulation solution designed to protect your organization against targeted phishing attacks. Security Awareness Training trains employees to understand the latest social engineering phishing techniques, recognize subtle phishing clues, and prevent email fraud, data loss, and brand damage. Security Awareness Training transforms employees from a potential email security risk to a powerful line of defense against damaging phishing attacks. .
Barracuda Incident Response automates incident response and provides remediation options to address issues faster and more efficiently. Admins can send alerts to impacted users and quarantine malicious email directly from their inboxes with a couple of clicks. Discovery and threat insights provided by the Incident Response platform help to identify anomalies in delivered email, providing more proactive ways to detect email threats.
Have questions or want more information about Email Security? Get in touch right now!