A Complete Guide to Email Security!

Complete Guide to Email Security

Nowadays, Email is a widely used digital communication method around the world. In 2017, the global email users range from 3.7 billion users and this figure continued to increase to 4.3 billion users in 2022. 

Everyone uses email because of the incredible benefits it offers. However, email is the hackers’ most favourite route to attack a target because people usually don’t pay attention to the security of their account. 

Email security has become a necessity in today’s age at both individual and business level. There are several security risks associated with emails, and also various measures organizations can take to boost their email security.

To benefit our readers in this regard, we’ve assembled an article for them which will provide answers to all their questions. But, before we jump into this topic, let’s first understand the need for email security.

The Need for Email Security

Organizations all around the world depend on business email as their primary source of communication. Because of the popularity of email as a source of the attack vector, it has become essential for companies and individuals to take necessary security measures to protect their email accounts against email threats and attacks.

Although cybersecurity threats do spread through other channels, hackers know it well that they can get more victims if they go through emails. This is the reason why email is still the top significant threat vector in 2019.

If your organizations’ security strategy isn’t correctly protecting your organization, you might be part of the increasing number of companies that have faced massive security breaches.

According to Gartner, there were 2-3 million ransomware attacks in 2016, and this frequency will show a steady rise in the upcoming time.

The attackers are always looking for ways to bypass the email security systems, which includes redirecting useful URL addresses to phishing URLs. The increasing challenges compel the organizations to ensure their email security.

Organizations spend years to make the name in the marketplace, but one data breach or opening a malicious link can cause them a considerable loss.

It becomes difficult to gain customers’ trust again once it has been broken. To prevent such circumstances, an active email security strategy must be adopted to combat attacks before they can cause much damage. 

Also Read: Emerging Cybersecurity Threats to Watch Out For in 2020

Security Risks Associated With Email

The prime goal of these email attacks is to target people so they can give away their sensitive data or compel them to download malware in their systems.

Hackers cleverly use their access to gain confidential information for their own benefit like selling it on the dark web, using it for identity theft, access financial accounts, or ask for a hefty ransom.

Several bad actors threaten the safety of the email accounts. However, the most prevalent risks and threats include malware, spam, phishing, Trojans, worms and viruses, and spoofed domains. Now, let’s read the risks these threats impose on the victims.

1) Malware

Malware or malicious software often infect computer systems by an external link, vulnerable or infected USB, or download it as an email attachment.

Upon gaining access, malware enters the computer system- corrupts the data, steal sensitive information, as well as mine cryptocurrencies. Attackers also use malware for ransomware attacks in which they hold a computer hostage till the user pays a ransom.

2) Spam

Spam is the unwanted and unnecessary email sent in bulk. Hackers collect email addresses from the customer list, chat rooms, social media, websites, and other compromised address books.

While in some cases, spam might contain phishing links that trick the users so they can provide their confidential information to cybercriminals or other malware sites that download malicious software onto their system.

This problem has become worse in recent latest years and now users are discarding their email addresses instead of combating the problem.

3) Phishing

Phishing attacks are a kind of spam that aims to trick the email recipients into giving their sensitive data or credentials for some malicious reasons- later, the information is misused.

These attacks attempt to utilize social engineering tactics to steal user’s both personal and financial data.

Such attacks are carried out by spoofed emails that provide links to a bogus website that are mainly designed to trick customers into revealing their private data such as account numbers, credit card details, passwords, Social Security Numbers, and usernames.

The perpetrators function by hiding under the phoney identities and names that are stolen from corporate banks, credit-card companies, and online businesses. They can also pretend as banks and government agencies that the recipient might detect.

4) Trojans, Worms, and Viruses

Trojans, worms, and viruses are sent as email attachments. All these destructive codes can easily damage the receivers’ system, change their computers into remote control slaves like botnets that can cause the recipients to lose money and take over the bank and credit card details.

Trojan horse keyloggers are known to record system activities, providing unauthorized external parties access to bank accounts, private business sites, social media accounts as well as other resources.

5) Spoofed Domains

In this type of attack, hackers buy domain names that sound like the brand they want to spoof and pretend to look exactly like the real thing. Unsuspicious email users who click on the link to the spoofed website get tricked into giving their sensitive information.

Also Read: Are We Doing Enough to Protect Our Cybersecurity Professionals?

Best Practices to Maintain Email Security

Human behaviour is regarded as the biggest challenge in implementing email security. It is important to note that business organization prioritizes education and training to a great extent.

It is predicted that every two out of three email hack happens as a result of employee or manager carelessness, which costs companies approximately $280,000 per incident. Here are some of the ways by which you can maintain your email security. 

1) Enable Two-Factor Authentication 

Increase your email account security by enabling two-factor authentication. The 2FA adds a layer of protection in your account. A hacker to invade your account needs both your password and phone to gain access. With 2FA, this becomes difficult and you stay on the safe side.

2) Validate Your Email

Email authentication is a proof that a message sent by you’re the name of your organization is being sent from your organization. This practice decreases attempts of phishing and spoofing and protects your brand. There are three types of email authentication.

This includes DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conference (DMARC), and Sender Policy Framework (SPF). The inbound threat protection will become easier if organizations adopt such standards and make it easier to identify legitimate emails. 

3) Educating and Training the Staff

Not all of the junk email ends up in the spam folder. It is because no software is perfect, and bad actors are coming up with some new variations every other minute.

It also means that quite a few questionable emails might get through from time to time, so the employees can know how to access messages through simple and easy steps like hovering over links in messages to verify the destination URLs before clicking or avoiding opening the email attachments from unknown or doubtful sources.

4) Suggest Users Use Client Security

All the email users know the security settings, anti-spam tools, phishing filters and other features that are designed to separate dangerous messages before they can cause any harm. All the email users must be advised to investigate all these functions and use them as their first line of defence against the cyber-attack.

5) Use Firewall and Antivirus Tools

A firewall filters out the malware-laden attachments and other types of unwanted materials. The anti-virus tools doe’s exceptional job of removing Trojan horses, worms, and viruses from incoming email messages and ensures users’ privacy.

6) Collaborate With Departments to Prevent Cyber-Attacks

Email security and threats significantly affect your company’s reputation in the marketplace. This at times, also leads to the downfall of your market shares which can ultimately hit your annual profit too. Thus, the marketing and security teams should put their heads together in restoring their customer’s security.

A policy must be adopted for authentication protocols for sending domains which are another crucial point towards email security guidance.

Final Thoughts

By now, you would have a complete understanding of what email security is. It is easy to make an email account but not everyone knows about securing it. Unprotected email accounts can prove like a treasure for hackers. To avoid such happenings, follow the steps mentioned above and safe your email account.

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