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Common Email Threats: What to Expect?

email threats

Emails are widely used in corporate and personal affairs, while hackers utilize them to exercise fraudulent activity. Despite the idea that many people recognize email security risks, some still ignore email vulnerabilities and threats and fail to follow basic rules.

The same applies not only to users of personal computers but to corporate actors as well. Today, employees work remotely, making it easier for criminals to target personal and corporate systems and manipulate users to get profits via data theft and ransom.

This article will show you the primary email threats, how to tackle them, and why email security is crucial.

Why is Email Security Important

Any respectful organization defines the security of its systems as the main priority when developing its agenda or a growth plan. In this regard, the management would focus not only on the processes relating to operation but communication as well.

Today, most firms have emails as the primary form of data exchange, meaning that their circumvention can bring significant adverse effects. They refer to fines, losses of money and reputation, and disablement of working processes, to name a few. The workers use emails to convey sensitive corporate data that hackers or criminals can exploit to gain profits.

That’s why corporate actors pay special attention to email security. Email security is an array of activities and procedures aimed at protecting internal systems and their content. That way, companies seek to protect accounts, documents, and data exchange from email security threats related to unsanctioned entries, breaches, or exploitation hazards.

In this regard, one should consider that email security, being only a part of a comprehensive cybersecurity concept, is complex enough and has its branch. One of them is the email security policy. However, let’s consider the common threats first.

Email Security Risks and How to Reduce Them

Most of the cyberattacks on the companies come from emails, despite the existing policies and regulations. In this regard, the human factor remains the significant factor in letting criminals infiltrate email security systems.

Yet, corporate workers are not always to blame, as the attacks become more sophisticated, while not all organizations know how to defend the email security systems from the sophisticated attacks.

This part will consider different types of malicious emails and how you or a company can answer them.

Social engineering or scamming via phishing emails

Notably, social engineering usually lays the foundation for most email security threats. The reason is that social engineering contemplates the deception of the victims, making them disclose the private information that attackers will later use for fraud.

This process comes with manipulation and emotional pressure, referring to the victim’s fear or urgent reaction. That way, the attackers trick people into sharing data or downloading files with the viruses.

A similar approach is used in scamming via phishing emails. A person can get an email about a new vacancy, prize, money transaction, or possible investments. In this regard, the hackers are likely to impersonate the HR specialist, investor, manager, or firm representative related to the question.

Notably, the attackers can have a personalized approach to the victim and provide fake documents or certification to manipulate recipients into doing specific actions. Many call these tactics spear phishing, implying the development of a unique approach to each target.

Solutions against the attacks: The corporate email service provider, managed by security officers, can incorporate strong spam filters or API-based defense systems. Yet, the robust antivirus and email security policy can be a great addition.

Malware emails

Malware emails are messages that contain hazardous files that can disrupt the security of email systems as well as the communication channels of the organization. As the corporate network usually connects with other computers, the virus can spread across the whole organization or affect the security of email servers. The malicious codes are typically hidden in the structure of files and can be spyware or ransomware. There are such types of malware email threats:

  • Volumetric
  • Zero-day
  • URL attacks

For instance, a marketer of the firm may want to buy email lists for lead generation. A party selling email lists can insert malicious files and contaminate the computer, leading to its malfunction or control. In this regard, the attacker can ask for a ransom. That’s why marketers are advised not to buy lists and use email finders similar to this: https://getprospect.com/email-finder.

Solutions against the attacks: For the most part, the malware emails threats can be stopped at the gateway based on the signature of the files. If the emails seem to come through, and you may want to engage them anyway, you should apply the sandbox approach. It implies the isolation of the file and testing whether they are safe or not. Certain antiviruses have this function.

Phishing emails

Phishing emails are a widely used technique that involves tricking people so that hackers can get sensitive information. It can refer to bank accounts, emails, and passwords. The more complex tactics require social engineering, while the most common ones are concerned with the links leading to shady websites that look similar to the credible ones.

Notably, regular phishing emails can be prevented by developed filters. Yet, lateral phishing, usually implying the internal attack on behalf of the recognized account that was taken over, is a more complicated method used by hackers. It can lead to reputation losses as the victim is likely to see no harm from the very beginning. Thus, basic email security phishing may not be rough.

Solutions against the attacks: Against the common phishing, the filters within email gateways are likely to work. In terms of lateral attacks, the security officers can implement APIs defense to detect threats and reverse the actions.

Spam emails

Spam seems to be the most recognized threat among all types of malicious emails. When using this method, hackers combine different methods. Thus, these messages can have phishing patterns or be just junk messages aimed at people lacking knowledge. As hackers usually send one type of message, but in large quantities, it quickly becomes known for different antivirus databases.

One may think as they get into spam boxes, there is no need to tackle them. However, when there are many of them, it negatively affects productivity and puts pressure on the servers.

Solutions against the attacks: The spam filters are designed to tackle this type of email. Moreover, if the organization keeps them updated and considers the suspicious domains of the senders, you are unlikely to suffer from them. Another effective method is having a solid corporate antivirus and following the strict rules of the email security policy.

Business Email Compromise

Among the types of email security threats, business email compromise (BEC) requires specific attention. Why? It involves the impersonification of the employees or company’s partners with the application of social engineering. On the whole, it allows targeting the financial specialists of the organization. And, no, it has no relation to targeting corporate actors by finding emails and sending them an outreach email with an offer, as a marketer can suggest, huh. The BEC is about juggling the business actor out of their money. At this point, a marketer may think about the targeted approach. That way, the hackers can manipulate people into transferring a certain sum of money to the hacker’s account.

In particular, the payroll scam is common when hackers make payroll departments send money salaries to different accounts. Various reports underline that BEC led to $1,9 billion losses by U.S. companies.

Solutions against the attacks: In addition to the strict security policy, the company may promote two-factor authentication to access the email accounts. Besides, the workers should know about cybersecurity guidelines at work and establish a practice to confirm any changes of the financial matter by physical presence or a phone call.

What is Email Security Policy

As you can see, email vulnerabilities and threats can bring significant issues to the organization or your business. The human factor plays an important role, making the concept of email policy vital for the security of operation. What is it about?

The email security policy is a part of the whole email cyber security system of the organization that defines the rules and order for the employees to use the emails and determines email communications process steps. Usually, it is a document that regulates the exchange of information, sets the responsibility of the employees, and sets standards for communication.

For example, the email service policy can prohibit signing up for shady or suspicious websites, spreading inappropriate content, supporting spamming activities, or downloading any files from third parties. The ultimate goal is to secure email communications and reduce email vulnerabilities and threats.

How to Report Email Threats

Importantly, if you have found a malicious email, you should report it. Why? It is a standard email cyber security practice that will help prevent subsequent attacks or help to investigate the issue. What are the steps?

  1. Identify the email security issues. You may have suspicions about certain emails or files, their sender, or their content. If you have doubts, run an antivirus check and contact the IT department.
  2. If the issue is urgent, and the antivirus can’t help you, contact the IT department to proceed with the problem as soon as possible.
  3. Notably, do not communicate with the attacker or insert any personal or corporate information to fix the issue.
  4. Simultaneously, you can report the email security issues of financial character via certain websites. For finance, the U.S. government offers Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or Internet Crime Complaint Center CISA and, while in the UK, there is National Cyber Security Centre.
  5. Besides, you can as well contact your antivirus company or file a report via antivirus software.
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