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Make The Right Move to Protect Your Organization From Email Attacks

Protect Your Organization From Email Attacks

Cyberattacks are increasing at an alarming rate and it can affect your business in many ways, depending on its nature, possibility, and criticality. According to a study more than 90% of attacks in the organization starts from malicious / phishing emails.

Due to ever growing business needs of email exchange, a hazardous email that zips through your email security can cause mayhem in your organization. All employees and your entire infrastructure can be compromised because of one single malicious email. So, every organization must take email security very seriously and should implement appropriate controls to improve the security of email infra.

The email and phishing threats faced by organizations today differ significantly in intricacy and size. Some of the most common and dangerous categories of email threats are listed below:

Spam

SPAM is unsolicited bulk email messages. Spammers usually send the same email to millions of email addresses. In most of the cases, spammers mask unwanted emails with the promotions offerings for various products and services.

Majority of reputed email service providers / email security solutions can identify most of these emails & move them to the SPAM / JUNK folder of your mailbox, but few may land in your inbox. However, it is not necessary that all the emails received in the SPAM / JUNK folder of your mailbox are SPAM emails only. There are various other factors that contribute to categorizing any email as a SPAM.

Phishing attacks

In Phishing attacks, cybercriminals try to obtain confidential & sensitive information, e.g. username, passwords, card details / pin by impersonating a genuine sender. Phishing email may often comprise malicious attachments to infect your system or links to the URLs which are created to collect confidential information.

When a phishing campaign is launched against specific targets & crafted to lure them based on reconnaissance done via social engineering or other ways, they get classified under Spear Phishing attack. Such emails are crafted & tested so well that they often are able to pass through security controls applied by email service providers or email gateway solutions.

Malware

Cyber attackers use email to deliver infected documents, which contains malicious software, also known as Malware, it can be any commonly used office format file or pdf. Usually, either the Malware is hidden directly in the document itself or a script is embedded to communicate and download the infected files from a remote location. Common types of malware include Viruses, Ransomware, Spyware and Trojans. Email is the one of the most common methods used by hackers to spread ransomware.

Account takeover

Account takeover is a form of identity theft and fraud, in which cyber criminals successfully gain access to an email’s account credentials. They use various kind of attacks, i.e. Phishing attack, Brute Force attack etc. to steal the credentials or even they can get it from dark web, which holds billions of compromised credentials from various historical breaches.

A report by Agari highlights how long cybercriminals take to get in your account after it's compromised:

  • 23% of all accounts were accessed almost immediately in an automated manner, to confirm that the credentials work.
  • 50% of the accounts were accessed manually within 12 hours after compromise.
  • 91% of the compromised accounts were accessed manually within the first week.

Below is what they use these compromised accounts for:

  • To search & target employees who have access to a company’s financial information / payment system.
  • Set up email forwarding or redirect rules to have immediate insight into incoming and outgoing emails.
  • Pivot from email to other Office 365 applications.
  • To send out more phishing emails.
  • To set up additional BEC infra e.g., to register domain, host or buy a service etc.


Above mentioned are only a few mostly used attack methods by cyber criminals. Best way to be secure from such attacks is to implement appropriate security controls. Following are some of the controls that can be implemented to improve the email security of your organization:

Make best use of your email platform

Most email platforms i.e. O365, Gsuite etc. come with features to offer a certain level of protection against email threats. These features, capabilities may vary from platform to platform & based on your licenses. An organization must check the documentation or connect with support to ensure all available relevant security controls have been enabled / configured to protect them from such email threats.

Implement a secure email gateway

A secure email gateway is vital to protect your email infra from malicious emails by blocking it from reaching your employees. It scans every incoming and outgoing email and performs the tasks of quarantining or blocking the email as per the risk probability and certain conditions & parameters. It significantly reduces the risk by leveraging capabilities such as anti-virus / anti-malware, SPAM filtering, content based filtering, sandboxing etc.

Implement Anti-spoofing controls

Spoofing is a deception method in which cyber criminals pretend to be someone else by using authentic senders and domains. They use this because after seeing the email from a genuine sender, you may fall in their trap and provide the sensitive information to them. Some basic controls, i.e. SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) and Email signing certificate can prevent you from such threats.

Employee awareness

Employees, if trained and equipped well, can be your first line of defence against any security risk and threat. Employees must be trained to identify suspicious and malicious emails, follow the guidelines and report about any anomaly to the information security team at the earliest. They must be aware of safe online behaviour i.e. Not to click or download files from unknown sender, validating sender / recipient list etc.

Adhere to best practices related to Password hygiene

Maintaining Password Hygiene can help a lot to safeguard against account takeover. Employees must set strong password / passphrase, use different passwords for multiple accounts and applications, change them on a defined interval etc.

These are some of the things that can help you in securing your infra from email attacks, but it is highly advisable to consult / hire a professional team to own this responsibility on your behalf. In today’s era where email is the most used form of business communication, you have to be ready with all precautions and best practices to fight the digital war. A cyber security expert or a cyber security consultant can help you in preparing for the worst situation. You can either on-board a special team for taking the responsibility of the entire show or can simply outsource the work to a specialized company or security consultant.

The team of Cybersec Knights is also one of the security training in delhi ncr, offering the best cybersecurity & privacy related services to the clients. We ensure that all our customers can work in a secure environment and expand their business. If you don’t have an in-house team for cybersecurity in your organisation, then contact us today!

Make your move before your hacker makes their first!