Essential Email Security Measures for Enterprise

Essential Email Security Measures for Enterprise

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Hwei Oh
4 min read
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Enterprises are attractive, high-value targets for hackers; and, because enterprises often have more employees and a more complicated environment, protecting against phishing and social engineering attacks is even more difficult. The Dropbox breach of late 2022 is a prime example of this weakness. Hackers emailed a large number of Dropbox employees, directing them to a malicious website where their credentials were stolen. This kind of risk is more common than not.

According to the 2023 Verizon Data Breach Report, 74% of all breaches involve a human element, such as human error, social engineering, or stolen credentials; and email plays a role in 90% of all data breaches. In Target’s 2013 data breach, an email attack directed against one of their suppliers gave hackers the key to the kingdom, allowing them to take off with 40 million debit and credit card details resulting in an $18 million fine levied against Target.

While the phrase “email security” usually conjures up ideas of spam filters and attachment monitoring, enterprises often need much more sophisticated measures. Here’s a good start.

Invest in email security protection tools

Comprehensive email security requires a collection of tools and software to detect and respond to threats and often consists of:

  • Email client filters and antiviruses.
  • Server-side tools to verify incoming email senders.
  • Cloud-based tools that scan email for malicious links.
  • AI tools running natural language processing (NLP) checks on email content.
  • Advanced email monitoring software.

Knowing what tools your enterprise requires and can integrate into your existing environment, is an important aspect of implementing email security. When determining what tools you should invest in, consider the threats you’re most likely to face.

Enterprises prone to sophisticated, highly targeted spear-phishing attacks might need to invest in Targeted Threat Protection (TTP) and companies in the finance sector that are prone to Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks might also want to consider TTP.

Minimize employee risk

The human element is usually the weakest link, even in the most resilient enterprises. Hackers go to great lengths to exploit this weakness, often through social engineering and other phishing attacks.

Security awareness training helps employees spot suspicious emails and can dramatically reduce the risk of falling prey to phishing attacks, making it a key pillar in your email security strategy. Training employees to recognize phishing emails can reduce employee errors by up to 60%.

However, believing that employees won’t ever make mistakes is naive. Even highly experienced employees still fall prey to email phishing attacks, as in the Dropbox phishing attack mentioned earlier. As a result of that attack, Dropbox wrote, “Even the most skeptical, vigilant professional can fall prey to a carefully crafted message delivered in the right way at the right time. This is precisely why phishing remains so effective—and why technical controls remain the best protection against these kinds of attacks.

Controls to mitigate human error might include biometric logins or manual verification before carrying out significant financial transactions. For example, your company might implement a policy that any emails from an executive demanding payment require a phone call before the payment can be made. This would significantly reduce the success of BEC attacks.

You might also consider a workflow automation system which enforces that certain manual steps must be taken before employees can carry out actions with significant consequences.

Managing user account privileges is also important here. By reducing the number of accounts that have access to sensitive files or by limiting their permissions, you’re preventing the ability of a successful phishing attack from transmitting too much damage into your network or organization.

Work with a managed security partner

As we’re sure you’ve recognized, the existing tools and solutions are both numerous and potentially difficult to implement, especially for enterprises with entrenched technology and complex environments.

It takes proper planning to understand your enterprise’s precise needs and then implement the right solutions. This may be resource-intensive. Additionally, depending on how much you need, the time required to fully achieve a comprehensive email security strategy could be too long. It might be better to choose a simpler option.

Partnering with a managed security program provider can help resolve many of the issues regarding your email security. Also, instead of juggling multiple vendors for the different elements of email security, you would have a single point of contact.

A good managed security provider will ensure that the right mix of detection and response tools are in place to keep your email channels secure, including providing employee training to help them better recognize email fraud patterns.

The provider’s service can include anything from AI-based algorithms that analyze email patterns that identify potential threats, to ensuring 24/7 human oversight for immediate threat response in case an email-vector-based attack does get through.

A managed security program provider’s expertise extends to integrating these solutions seamlessly into your existing technology stack, ensuring minimal disruption to your operations.

To get started, check out SolCyber’s guide on how to find the right managed security provider.

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Hwei Oh
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