Security leaders know that email has been a top cyberattack surface for years. While organizations invest billions globally in a broad spectrum of cybersecurity technologies, the vast majority of phishing breaches are the result of people inadvertently clicking on malicious links within emails. A strong foundation of multi-layered email security is the best way to protect email servers and user inboxes from a disastrous breach.
End-to-end email security covers all email attack surfaces and vectors
Email servers and user endpoint inboxes are two primary locations for cyberattacks to infiltrate emails. Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) intercept, analyze, and block incoming emails before being distributed to the corporate email server. Because of high traffic volumes, there is little time for deep analysis, which would cause business disruption. As a result, all SEGs inevitably miss some sophisticated threats. Additionally, hackers know the limitations of SEGs and get around them with impersonations, multi-layer attachments, links to files, link redirects, and many other evasive techniques.
Suppose a social engineering attack gets past the SEG, and there is no email security protecting endpoint inboxes. In that case, users may click on a link, not knowing its malicious intent. Thus, employee training to understand how phishing works and what they can do to help prevent it is crucial. But even with proper training and education, people get distracted, and human error is inevitable. According to the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR), human error plays a large part in data breaches.
- 82% of all data breaches analyzed in the past 12 months involved a human element
- 25% of all breaches in 2021 were the result of social engineering attacks
Endpoint email security makes a huge difference in overcoming these complex issues. To conduct a deep email analysis, endpoint-based agents or integrated cloud email security (ICES) eliminate security gaps between email servers and user inboxes. This distributed processing provides thorough security analysis and direct inbox protection without causing delivery delays.
A multi-layered approach to email protection
Integrating SEG and endpoint email security gives IT and security teams a centralized view and broad coverage of their enterprise-wide email deployments. An integrated solution can provide a single dashboard where all email attacks, spammers, analysis, policies, rules, blacklists and whitelists, and reports are viewed and mitigated. Email security that captures, analyzes, and blocks malicious emails in front of on-premises and cloud-based email servers and protects distributed user inboxes at the network edge can provide end-to-end protection.
Tips for strengthening email security
- Educate Employees Regularly – Conduct ongoing training sessions to update employees on evolving phishing techniques. Encourage them to verify suspicious emails with the sender before clicking on any links or attachments.
- Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – Enforce MFA for email access to add an extra layer of security, preventing unauthorized access even if login credentials are compromised.
- Regularly Update Security Protocols – Ensure email security protocols, software, and systems are regularly updated to guard against new vulnerabilities.
- Use Advanced Threat Detection – Invest in solutions with advanced detection capabilities to identify and block sophisticated threats that might bypass traditional security measures.
- Leverage Endpoint Protection – Combine Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) with endpoint security solutions for comprehensive coverage. Endpoint-based agents or integrated cloud email security (ICES) can bridge the gap between email servers and user inboxes.
- Monitor and Analyze Email Traffic – Implement robust monitoring systems to continuously track email traffic, flagging any anomalies or suspicious patterns for immediate investigation.
- Employ Whitelisting and Blacklisting – Utilize whitelists and blacklists to manage trusted and untrusted senders effectively. Regularly update these lists to strengthen and enhance accuracy.
- Regular Security Audits – Conduct routine security audits to identify vulnerabilities, assess risks, and strengthen defenses accordingly.
- Establish Incident Response Plans – Develop and regularly update incident response plans to mitigate the impact of successful email breaches and ensure a swift and coordinated response.
- Encourage Reporting of Suspicious Activity – Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable promptly reporting suspicious emails or activities to IT or security teams.
By implementing these practices, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to email-based cyber threats and bolster their overall cybersecurity posture.
David Schiffer is RevBits’ Chief Executive Officer. David Schiffer’s career spans several decades of mathematics and computer science endeavors. He began his career in both technology and international business, after earning two Master’s Degrees in Math and Computer Science. David is the Co-Founder of two technology companies. Prior to co-founding RevBits, he was the Founder and CEO of Safe Banking Systems, which was sold to Accuity / RELX after almost twenty years in business.