Is Your Email Security Built to Withstand Determined Intruders?
Let's dive in to email security: the enterprise email security policy, email security stack best practices, software, and complementary tools.
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We take great care to safeguard our homes and valuable assets with numerous methods of defense. We employ layers of protection, with double locks on external doors, alarm sensors on windows, and strategically placed motion-activated cameras and signs in the yard to deter intruders.
Many of us place valuables in secure home safes, discreetly camouflaged from the casual observer and determined burglar. It’s just a common-sense inclination to protect our property and treasured possessions.
Why then are we often less vigilant with email security, given the vast amounts of sensitive data contained within business emails sent and received every day? Customer and corporate data in the hands of malicious actors can lead to disastrous repercussions for an enterprise. As today’s number-one threat vector, email security has become one of the most essential cybersecurity capabilities a company can deploy. Email security solutions and a robust policy must be part of a holistic cybersecurity strategy.
Crafting an Effective Enterprise Email Security Policy
Projections estimate that by 2025, daily email traffic will reach 376 billion. Even with technological advancements in messaging, email will remain the most popular form of communicating both inside and outside of the work environment. Unfortunately, it is also wrought with vulnerabilities and weaknesses, making it a fertile field for a variety of attacks. Malicious actors target and infect email systems inside the perimeter, and across remote edge devices that can be anywhere. A strong and enforceable email security policy must be part of a holistic security strategy, in order to protect this vital business function.
An email security policy is a business document that should detail how email is used, what is prohibited, what specific types of content are acceptable, and what content is never allowed or tolerated. The policy should dictate employee responsibilities and ongoing training requirements. The process for how to report suspicious emails, and to whom, should be documented, as well as restrictions on employee use, like no personal emails on corporate email systems. The consequences for not adhering to the policy guidelines should be clearly stated.
A robust, comprehensive policy promotes a careful and professional approach to email transmissions. By enforcing a restriction on personal use, an enterprise can decrease incidents of accidental transmissions of personal data, and increase employee focus on daily workload with less distraction.
The Email Security Stack: Best Practices, Software, and Complementary Tools
An effective email security defense is a layered arsenal comprised of a standard of best practices, innovative software, services and tools, supported by the enforcement of a strong policy. Implementation of the following best practices is a crucial part of every effective email security strategy.
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption for all communications over the Internet. Unsecure mail is a common attack vector, and utilizing an encryption layer protects data and passwords from malicious actors.
- Email authentication standards DKIM, DMARC, and SPF — combined with encryption — verify all email transmissions and prevent damaging domain spoofing. Determining an email’s true owner is critical for communications. In the case of a Business Email Compromise (BEC) cyberattack, the result can be financial loss, brand erosion, and the loss of consumer trust. Email authentication — using DKIM, DMARC, and SPF protocols to verify an organization’s email and domain — provides proof that the users and devices sending outbound email are legitimate.
- Two Factor Authentication (2FA) and Multifactor Authentication (MFA) add layers of protection because passwords alone are insufficient. New findings indicate that overly complex passwords and frequent password changes are not the best practices. When employees must create new passwords with frequency, they will often just make a small modification to the previous one. Adding authentication factors like facial or fingerprint recognition enhances email security, and they are a strong deterrent for hackers.
- A password management solution will store and automatically fill in passwords. Security is increased through encryption and support for more complex and unique passwords.
- Integrated, automated email security platforms detect any anomalies in logins, suspicious links, attachments, and deviations. These solutions can analyze outbound and inline communication patterns, offering advanced levels of security. Advanced solutions with AI and ML capabilities scan and study all inbound and outbound mail, detecting any breach of corporate policies. By leveraging the automation and intuitive features of an integrated platform, phishing and other attack threats can be detected within seconds.
- Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) monitor email to prevent unwanted inbound email. Rerouting inbound and outbound emails through a proxy, gateways are a filtering and inspection point for detecting malware, spam, and phishing attempts.
- Robust employee anti-phishing training on a regular basis can empower users to avoid risky behaviors and detect phishing campaigns on their inbox. Scheduled phishing simulations can reinforce scam detection skills and embed the proper steps to take for reporting, per email security policy.
In tandem with applying email security best practices, deploying effective technology as detailed above builds a security stack fortress for enterprise email protection. Through the development of a strong, comprehensive email security policy, employee training and education, and deploying innovative technologies, an enterprise can gird their email security architecture against the most aggressive attacks.
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