An email is a popular form of corporate communication. However, it is also a well-known vector for cyberattacks.
Attackers can use phishing attacks to gain access to an organization’s environment and deploy malware or compromise credentials.
Email scanners can scan emails to identify malware, phishing and other email-borne threats.
Email Scanning: The Importance
The sophistication of phishing attacks is increasing, which increases the likelihood that an email containing malicious content will reach employees’ inboxes and get them to click.
An organization can be severely affected if it clicks on malicious links or attachments. Successful phishing attacks can result in data breaches, ransomware infections and other costly and harmful security incidents.
Email scanning solutions are essential to reduce the threat email poses to an organization. Email scanning helps reduce the risk that employees will fall for phishing attacks and puts the organization at greater risk by blocking spam emails before they reach their inboxes.
How Does Email Scanning Work?
There are a few ways email scanning solutions can be used. There are many differences in how these solutions work. These are two of the most popular approaches:
#1. MX Records
Some email scanning software will modify the DNS MX records of organizations to point to their cloud-based email scanning system. All emails will be sent to the scanner first.
This allows it to filter spam and inspect them before sending it to the company’s mail server or mail transfer agent.
Common webmail solutions such as G-Suite, Microsoft 365 and others provide APIs for API-based email scanning. The email traffic is routed as normal, but it is checked before sending it to the users’ inboxes.
API-based integration allows for additional functionality, such as recalling inboxes from malicious emails after delivery and inspecting outbound email content for sensitive information.
An email scanner can identify malicious content in emails that pass through it. This includes scanning for known malware variants and then using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI and ML to detect new threats and email content that could be used to perpetrate social engineering attacks.
What Threats can email scanning identify?
There are many potential threats that email can pose to an organization. These are just a few of the potential threats that email scanners can block and identify:
Email can trick users into doing things that are harmful to the company. Email scanning can identify email compromises (BEC) in business emails and other social engineering attacks.
Email is a popular delivery method for many types of malware, such as ransomware or info thieves. Email scanning software can scan email attachments for malicious content.
This includes malicious executables and ZIP archives. Scanners equipped with Content Disarm and Reconstruction functionality (CDR) can dissect malicious files, extract malicious content, and reconstruct a sanitized file for user delivery.
#3. Malicious URLs
Malicious attachments can be sent via email. Emails can also contain malicious URLs that direct users to phishing sites. Email scanning software can block emails that contain known bad domains or link to sites with phishing content.
#4. Data Leakage
Email can not only carry threats to an organization, it can also transmit sensitive data outside of that organization.
Data loss prevention (DLP), which identifies and blocks emails containing sensitive data to unauthorized recipients, maybe a part of email scanning solutions.
Here are 5 tips to keep your email secure
To increase security for your account and device, do not click on links from suspicious or unknown individuals. Also, never send personal information via email or a link.
Even your bank or utility company may request personal information such as passwords, credit card and bank information.
Don’t send the email with the requested information. Instead, look for the company’s telephone number and call them with the information.
Although many people can’t function without checking their email, many take the security and privacy of our inboxes as a given.
The Sony Pictures hack revealed that email is a prime target of hackers and data thieves. It’s not an easy lesson. Then there is the matter of surveillance.
Although most of us don’t send U.S. secrets overseas, it is alarming to think someone might be able to access our email addresses. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t send secure and private emails. You need to be careful with your email.
#1. Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication works based on combining something you know and something you already have. A debit card is one example. You will need both your card and your pin to verify your identity.
You are not trusting a password by enabling two-factor authentication (or two-step verification). This is a good thing, considering the weak passwords we have.
Two-step verification for Gmail is as easy as clicking a button, entering your mobile number, and then save the settings.
It’s the same process for Outlook and Windows Mail. Log in, click on your “Password and Security,” and then click “Setup two-step verification.” A hacker can’t use your password unless they also have your phone.
#2. Limit forwarding
We often click “Forward” when we have a message to share. But we don’t think about the consequences. What’s the message going to be?
Who will it reach? It will be stored where?
Your email will be stored on a corporate server. This means that you can take security precautions to protect sensitive information.
If you forward an internal email to someone outside your company, the data and any other emails are exposed to unencrypted, unsecured servers.
For example, let’s say you are a covered entity and send emails containing protected medical information (PHI) to a business associate. To violate HIPAA requires one employee to forward the email to an unauthorized recipient.
#3. Your messages should have expiration dates
Some people can’t bear a messy inbox. However, the average user won’t bother to clean up their email. They often view deleting emails as a waste.
Can you blame them when more than half of us get at least 11 emails per day? Any sensitive information you send to clients could end up sitting there for months. You lose control over the fate of your data at that point.
Virtru allows you to set an expiration date for your email so it is no longer readable by the recipient or anyone else after that date.
#4. Learn the TOS of your service provider
The terms of service can reveal much more about your email provider than what they advertise in media interviews. It will tell you what level of security they provide.
Is their server encrypted? Are they protected against brute force attacks?
Are there any guarantees that your data will be protected? Although you may think that your email provider is looking out for your best interests, there is a good chance they aren’t following the same standards as you.
Google is one example. They openly share private emails via automated scanning. You’ll soon realize that your privacy is not their top priority.
#5. Encrypt your email
Encryption is the best way to protect your private email from hackers and to pry your eyes. Encryption encrypts your private emails by making it impossible for anyone to decipher them unless you have authorized them to do so.
If you use Virtru client-side encryption, your messages will not be readable even if your email is compromised. You don’t need to worry about messages being intercepted by hackers or other service providers.
You also can revoke permission to view your email if it is stored on servers that are not under your control. Although email is not designed to be secure by default, there are a few ways that users can increase their privacy and security.
Virtru works with your email service to provide client-side encryption for all your emails and attachments.