Email security solutions serve as a filter for blocking out spam and malicious emails, preventing them from reaching inboxes where they can be opened by end users. Email is one of the most common vectors used in cyberattacks on businesses and consumers, as attacks are cheap and easy to conduct, require little skill, and are highly effective. Email attacks are conducted to steal sensitive information, install malware and ransomware, commit financial fraud, and gain a foothold in corporate networks for a host of other nefarious purposes.
One of the best ways to explain how important email security solutions are for businesses is with facts and statistics.
Phishing and Other Email Cyber Threat Facts and Figures
- 15 billion spam emails are sent every day
- 83% of organizations said they experienced a phishing attack in 2021
- 9 out of 10 cyberattacks start with a phishing email
- In December 2021, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) received the highest number of reports of phishing attacks in its 7-year history of producing reports, with triple the number of attacks as early 2020
- APWG said more than 214,000 unique phishing websites were identified in 2021, which is more than twice the number in 2020
- Lookout Inc. reported a 161% increase in phishing attacks between the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021
- Business email compromise (BEC) attacks start phishing emails. In 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received reports of losses of more than $2.4 billion due to BEC attacks, and at least $43 billion was lost to BEC attacks from October 2013 to December 2021
- The FBI received complaints from 323,972 victims of phishing attacks in 2021, making it the most common type of cybercrime
- Estimates suggest that at least 1 in 99 emails is a phishing email. The average employee receives around 121 emails a day.
- 30% of phishing emails are opened by employees
- Ransomware attacks increased by 92.7% from 2020 to 2021
Important Features of Email Security Solutions
Email security solutions can vary a great deal in terms of the protection they provide. At the most basic level, they are used to block nuisance spam emails that can be a significant drain on productivity. More advanced solutions provide protection against phishing and spear phishing, email impersonation attacks, scams, and malware.
Given the extent to which businesses are targeted in phishing campaigns, and how commonly malware is distributed via email, it is vital for businesses to deploy advanced email security solutions that can block the full range of email threats including phishing emails, botnets, and malware/ransomware, and be capable of detecting zero-day threats.
Some of the most important features of email security solutions are listed below:
To protect against malware, email security solutions incorporate antivirus protection through one or more antivirus engines. AV protection is signature-based, so it is only effective at blocking known malware. Email security solutions that also include behavior-based detection mechanisms provide much better protection against these zero-day threats. This is commonly achieved through sandboxing – email attachments that pass initial AV checks are sent to the sandbox for in-depth behavioral analysis.
Phishing is the most common threat faced by businesses so strong anti-phishing protection is required. Measures should include real-time scanning of emails, extensive threat intelligence feeds, scanning and following of links in emails, and machine learning/AI to protect against zero-day phishing threats.
Email Impersonation protection
Many email scams succeed because scammers impersonate trusted entities. Email security solutions that include Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) protect against email impersonation attacks by authenticating the senders of emails to make sure they are authorized to send emails from a specific domain.
Outbound email filtering
Outbound filtering is an important security feature that is missing from many email security solutions. Filtering outbound emails allows security teams to identify and block insider threats, such as rogue employees attempting to send sensitive data externally and for identifying compromised mailboxes that are being used for spamming, malware distribution, or phishing.
Effective spam filtering
Email security solutions typically block more than 99% of spam and nuisance emails, with more advanced solutions capable of blocking 99.99% of spam with a very low false-positive rate. This is achieved through techniques such as Bayesian analysis, heuristics, and greylisting.
What is a Good Business Email Security Strategy?
An advanced email security solution will protect against email threats, but it is not possible to block all threats without also blocking an unacceptable number of genuine emails. No email security solution will be 100% effective, so some malicious emails will arrive in inboxes. Given the number of email threats faced by businesses, additional security measures should be incorporated into your security strategy.
TitanHQ provides advanced email security through the SpamTitan suite of email security solutions. SpamTitan is an award-winning email security solution that blocks phishing, malware, spam, viruses, and other malicious email threats. The solution features dual antivirus engines, sandboxing, SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to block email impersonation attacks, machine learning to anticipate new attacks and block zero-day threats, and outbound filtering with data loss protection capabilities. SpamTitan has a market-leading 99.99% spam catch rate with a 0.003% false-positive rate.
Web filters protect against web-based attacks by preventing users from visiting known malicious websites, such as those linked in phishing emails. Phishers may initially send a benign link, then change the content of the linked page after email delivery, thus bypassing email security controls. Web filters provide time-of-click protection to prevent this type of attack, protect against phishing attacks when there are multiple redirects, and can be configured to prevent downloads of risky file types from the Internet. WebTitan from TitanHQ is an award-winning DNS-based web filter that provides protection against threats delivered via the Internet.
Security Awareness Training
Employees will encounter threats, so it is important to provide regular security awareness training to teach them how to identify and avoid threats and eliminate bad security practices. Phishing simulations are also recommended for identifying employees who require further training and to assess gaps in security knowledge. SafeTitan from TitanHQ is the only behavior-driven security awareness training platform that delivers security awareness training in real time, with training triggered by specific behaviors such as a failed a phishing simulation or other risky behaviors.
Email security solutions will block inbound threats but will not protect emails in transit. Since emails are sent in plain text by default, they can be intercepted, read, and tampered with in transit. To prevent this, your email security strategy should include email encryption to ensure that only the intended recipient of an email can read it. EncryptTitan from TitanHQ provides end-to-end encryption for emails to ensure that email data remains private and confidential.
You should ensure that your emails are regularly backed up to ensure that in the event of a ransomware attack or other data destruction event you can recover your email data. A good approach to take is the 3-2-1 backup strategy. Make three backups, store them on two different media, and ensure one copy is stored securely off-site. Email backups should also be encrypted and tested to make sure data can be recovered.
Backups are important for disaster recovery and allow mailboxes to be restored, but you should also have an email archive. An archive is used for long-term email storage and since archives are searchable, individual emails can be found and recovered in seconds. ArcTitan email archiving from TitanHQ supports disaster recovery processes and provides constant access to emails to ensure business continuity, even during an email server outage.
If you want to improve your security posture and better protect against email threats, contact TitanHQ today for help developing a robust security strategy.