Why Email Security is Important?

With over 90% of attacks on organizations starting from a malicious email, relying on your built-in security might leave your organization open to cyber criminals that constantly capitalize on the number one attack vector: exploiting human nature and the lack of tight security.

Why Email Security is Important

Why Is Email The Number 1 Attack Vector?

Emails are an effective initial infection vector because almost every company uses email, and the average employee, as we can all imagine, gets many emails. The sheer volume of emails means that an employee has only a short amount of time to devote to each one and pulls them into a false sense of security. Cybercriminals take advantage of this in phishing attacks, which have become even more common and effective with the growth of cloud-based email.

 

  • The Phishing Threat

A phishing email is designed to use social engineering to exploit your organization’s employees. If an attacker can get a user to click on a malicious link or open an infected attachment, they can steal login credentials and other personal data or install malware on the employee’s computer. From there, the cybercriminal can expand their access on the corporate network to steal sensitive data or perform other attacks.

 

Over 90% of cyberattacks begin with a phishing email, and the reason for this is that phishing emails are effective. It is often much easier to convince an employee that they need to take action on their Netflix account or send a payment to a vendor than to identify and exploit a vulnerability in a company’s systems.

 

  • Exploiting Cloud Email

The rapid adoption of cloud computing has only made it easier for cybercriminals to exploit email. The growing use of cloud-based email and document sharing solutions – such as Google Drive and Microsoft 365 – have opened up new attack vectors for cybercriminals.

 

An attacker will commonly send a phishing email masquerading as a legitimate shared document. Upon clicking on the link, the target will be prompted to enter their credentials for the service to view it, which sends these credentials to the attacker. If the organization has not configured their cloud infrastructure to provide visibility into account usage and implement access control, an attacker can use these stolen credentials to access sensitive data throughout the company’s cloud.

What Can One Malicious Email Do?

Phishing emails and other malicious messages are designed to provide an attacker with initial access to an organization’s network. This can occur in a variety of ways and achieve a number of different purposes:

  • Credential Theft: A phishing email can be designed to steal an employee’s username and password. These credentials can be used to remotely access services both on-site and in the cloud to perform data theft or other actions.
  • Fraudulent Payment: Business Email Compromise (BEC) and similar scams are designed to impersonate a high-level executive within a company. These emails instruct an employee to send a payment to a certain account, pretending that it is for closing a deal or paying a vendor invoice.
  • Trojan Installation: Many malicious emails carry a Trojan designed to create a foothold on the target computer. This malicious file will then collect data and possibly download additional, specialized malware such as keyloggers or ransomware.
  • Ransomware Delivery: Phishing emails are one of the primary delivery mechanisms for ransomware. A ransomware attack encrypts all of the files on infected computers and demands a payment to recover the files. Even if the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee of a complete recovery.

These are only some of the potential impacts of a successful phishing attack on an organization’s cybersecurity. In any of these cases, only a single employee has to fall for the attack in order for it to be successful. However, phishers will often target multiple employees within the company to maximize their probability of a successful attack.

Why Your Built-In Security Is Not Enough

Many organizations rely upon the built-in Microsoft 365 security settings or other configuration options provided by their cloud email provider. However, these settings are not enough to protect against a number of email-based threats:

  • Zero-Day Malware: Many email security solutions rely upon signature-based detection of malware. This will not be able to identify and block zero-day attacks before they infect the corporate network.
  • Social Engineering and BEC: Some phishing emails don’t carry any malicious content like phishing links or attached malware. Instead, they trick the user into taking an action, like sending money to a certain bank account. Email security solutions looking only for malware or phishing links will completely miss these attacks.
  • Employee Negligence: An organization’s employees’ poor data and email security can be as damaging as an attack by a cybercriminal. If sensitive data is shared via email or cloud-based solutions to an unauthorized party, it may be leaked and accessible to cybercriminals. A data loss prevention solution is an essential part of email security.

Managing Email Security the Right Way

Email is a common attack vector for cybercriminals, and traditional email security solutions are not enough to protect against this threat. Companies require an email security solution with several core capabilities:

  • Anti-Phishing
  • Malware Protection
  • Data Loss Prevention
  • Account Takeover Prevention

Check Point’s email security solution provides all of these core capabilities and more. To see it in action, contact us or schedule a live demonstration.

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