Recent Email Attacks
Malicious emails can be used in a variety of attacks. Some examples of email-based attacks that are common in recent months include:
- COVID-19-Related Phishing: The COVID-19 pandemic presented a huge opportunity for cybercriminals. Emails pretending to provide useful pandemic-related information, goods, or services were actually designed to steal sensitive data or install malware on the target’s computer.
- Ransomware Delivery: Ransomware attacks are designed to extort companies into paying ransoms to regain access to encrypted data. Phishing emails are one of the leading methods by which cybercriminals infect computers with ransomware.
- Impersonation Attacks: Impersonation attacks, like Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks, trick employees into sending money to an attacker by impersonating an executive or other high-ranking person within a company. These emails are increasingly sophisticated and common as attackers refine their techniques.
Why Your Built-In Security Is Not Enough
Many organizations rely upon the security settings built into their email solutions. However, these built-in security settings are inadequate for a number of reasons. Three examples of email-based threats that a traditional email security solution is likely incapable of detecting include:
- Zero-Day Detection: Some phishing campaigns use unique malware for each target, yet many email security solutions rely upon signature-based detection strategies to identify malicious attachments. This means that these solutions will miss phishing attacks using zero-day malware to infect an organization’s computers.
- Identifying Social Engineering: Scanning for malicious links and attached malware is a common focus for email security solutions; however, not all email-based attacks use these techniques. BEC and similar attacks that are based on social engineering are designed to trick a user into taking an action like paying a fake invoice. Focusing solely on phishing sites and attached malware means that some email security solutions will miss these attacks entirely.
- Employee Data Leaks: Employee-driven data leaks are a common cloud email security challenge. An employee may inappropriately share sensitive data outside the organization via email or documents shared via the cloud. Built-in security settings, such as Office 365 security configurations, may not detect these accidental data leaks. An integrated data loss prevention (DLP) solution is essential for email security.
These potential threats highlight the shortcomings of built-in email security solutions. Companies require additional email protections with the capability to identify and block these types of attacks.
What You Need to Look For in an Email Security Solution
Built-in email security solutions are not enough to handle the wide variety of threats that can come via email. When looking for an email security solution, it is important to verify that it has these four critical features:
- Anti-Phishing: Phishing attacks are the most common malicious use of email. An email security solution should include the ability to detect attached malware and malicious links. Additionally, these solutions should use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to identify emails that are likely to be part of a BEC or similar social engineering-based phishing attack.
- Malware Protection: Phishing emails are commonly used to deliver malware, such as ransomware or trojans. In many cases, this malware is created specifically for a campaign against a particular organization. An email security solution should analyze attachments in a sandboxed environment to identify zero-day malware contained within a malicious email.
- Data Loss Prevention: An organization can leak sensitive data via email, whether as part of an attack or due to employee negligence. An effective email security solution should scan emails for sensitive data and block sharing of any data matching these filters from being shared outside of the organization or with unauthorized third parties.
- Account Takeover Prevention: Cybercriminals commonly use phishing emails as part of account takeover attacks. By convincing an employee to enter their credentials into a phishing page, an attacker gains access to any accounts using these credentials. An email security solution should monitor for and block any suspicious access attempts, such as those coming from known-bad or suspicious IP addresses or access requests for the same account coming from multiple locations.
Doing Email Security the Right Way
Strong email security should be a priority for any organization. Email is one of the most common vectors by which an attacker gains initial access to an organization’s network and steals sensitive information, such as user login credentials.
An effective email security solution protects against all of the primary methods that cybercriminals use to weaponize emails. To learn more about the capabilities of Check Point’s email security solutions, contact us or schedule a live demonstration.