Fighting advanced persistent threats and targeted attacks
No longer are hackers just throwing out random email attacks harboring spam, viruses, and malware. The modern bad actor utilizes targeted email attacks to compromise the security of a business. This allows them to access information, wreak havoc, or steal money from your organization.
So what’s a business to do? The days of employing a simple secure email gateway are gone. To defend against the advanced email threats of modern cybercriminals, businesses require top-notch email security that uses a multi-layered approach.
Here’s a look at common email threats businesses face, standard email security, and how organizations can institute an email resilience program to best protect their assets.
Advanced Persistent Threats
Advanced persistent threats are among the most dangerous because they are voluminous, continuous, and unrelenting. Such targeted attacks can use malware to gain unauthorized access to your network. It can remain there, undetected, collecting data and causing damage for days, weeks, and even months.
These advanced persistent threats search your business network for points of vulnerability. Email is often an easy access point as employees are likely to open emails, even from people they don’t know, during the course of their workday. Hypertext links and attachments in emails that your employees click on are another simple means of infection. After clicking on a link or attachment, it might appear to you or your staff that a link is broken or an attached file is defective when in reality, you have just allowed a bad actor in your front door.
Malware that invades your network through email can steal data, gather proprietary intelligence, and compromise your systems. In addition, it can launch even more damaging malware into your entire network that can spread from computer to computer, to your servers, and from office to office.
One of the many ways that scammers will try to trick you and your employees into giving them information is through email phishing. They will seek out personal information such as passwords, account numbers, and social security numbers in order to access company email, bank, and other accounts of value.
Hackers send thousands of phishing attacks daily, an average of 1,300 each day in 2019, according to the U.S. FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). They are so successful, the IC3 reported individuals and businesses lost more than $3.5 billion to phishing and similar schemes in 2019 alone.
“Criminals are getting so sophisticated,” said Donna Gregory, chief of IC3. “It is getting harder and harder for victims to spot the red flags and tell real from fake.”
Spear-phishing is similar to phishing. Hackers do their homework upfront to further deceive their intended victim. They will often research information about your company and employees online to determine who is in accounting, human resources, or who your chief executive officer is.
After doing their research, they target specific people within your company through emails. For example, they may request funds through an email from someone in accounting for business expenses such as travel, paint, services, etc. They may even pose as the CEO when making these requests since most employees won’t question the boss.
Email spoofing occurs when a person or program successfully poses as another using falsified data in order to gain some advantage such as accessing systems and networks, gathering information, or stealing money.
Criminals use corporate logos and graphics to create authentic-looking emails that appear to come from legitimate sources. They send these crafted emails to you, your organizational leadership, and/or other employees as if they were a trusted sender. The bad actor can request information, funds, or access. It’s similar to a forged letter but it’s in a digital format that has the potential to truly victimize your business.
Like other email threats, ransomware targets companies through email. The hacker will attempt to fool you or your employees into clicking on an attachment or downloading a file from the internet. That file then encrypts your data on a given computer or your entire network. The bad actor would then contact you and demand a ransom to restore access to your data, which they may or may not honor if the funds are distributed.
Security of the Past
The purpose of a secure email gateway was to keep bad emails, spam, and those with malicious content, out of your company’s inboxes. Over time, the threat landscape has changed and hackers have found ways around the email gateways of the past.
Today’s businesses require a safer, more secure strategy for protecting company email that goes beyond a simple perimeter defense mechanism. Modern email security is now multi-layered. A complete cyber resilience program incorporates the traditional gateway approach but also offers additional protection.
The best email resilience programs stop threats before they can reach your network. They provide flexible controls that allow software administrators, such as your internal IT team, to adapt your email security centrally. In addition, the program will need to be able to change quickly to address newly emerging threats as hackers adopt new methods for trying to infiltrate your network through your email.
You will also want to instate a program that filters spam and offers additional virus protection. This provides a more comprehensive approach to protecting your email data, your employees, and your business. Furthermore, it should combat common threats such as phishing, spear-phishing, malware, and ransomware through real-time email scanning. This will help detect and block malicious links, attachments, and social engineering mechanisms.
Leading email resilience software also has the capability to provide content control and data leak prevention. This stops both accidental and purposeful leaks of client data, personally identifiable information (PII), sensitive data, intellectual property, and/or proprietary information. Additionally, the ability to send and receive large files should also be incorporated into your program in order to avoid using file-sharing services that are outside the control of your company. Finally, you’ll also want to look for a program that offers secure messaging without the need for employees to download encryption software, which can be time-consuming and complicated.
Mimecast Email 3.0
One of the programs the cybersecurity experts at ORAM Corporate Advisors often recommends is Mimecast’s Email 3.0. In addition to the typical email gateway most of us are used to, the cloud-based software incorporates Continuity and Sync & Recover capabilities. What this means is that if your company does experience an email attack, Email 3.0 will help your organization recover quickly to eliminate email downtime. Additionally, it backs up your email so that you can feel safe knowing your business-critical email data is fully restorable.
Mimecast’s Email 3.0 utilizes a combination of third-party detective analytics with cutting-edge, internally-developed analytics to seek out email threats. In addition, the software employs several threat intelligence sources, both internal and external, to identify email threats fast. This means your company gets an incredibly effective multi-layered inspection system that monitors your organization’s email that has proven effective against the most common email attacks.
For more information on instating an email resilience program for your business or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact ORAM Corporate Advisors at (617) 933-5060.