E-Mail Security

Email was designed to be as open and accessible as possible. It allows people in organizations to communicate with each other and with people in other organizations. The problem is that email is not secure. This allows attackers to use email as a way to cause problems in attempt to profit. Whether through spam campaigns, malware and phishing attacks, sophisticated targeted attacks, or business email compromise (BEC), attackers try to take advantage of the lack of security of email to carry out their actions. Since most organizations rely on email to do business, attackers exploit email in an attempt to steal sensitive information.

Because email is an open format, it can be viewed by anyone who can intercept it, causing email security concerns. This became an issue as organizations began sending confidential or sensitive information through email. An attacker could easily read the contents of an email by intercepting it. Over the years, organizations have been increasing email security measures to make it harder for attackers to get their hands on sensitive or confidential information.


Email Security Policies

Because email is so critical in today’s business world, organizations have established polices around how to handle this information flow. One of the first policies most organizations establish is around viewing the contents of emails flowing through their email servers. It’s important to understand what is in the entire email in order to act appropriately. After these baseline policies are put into effect, an organization can enact various security policies on those emails.

These email security policies can be as simple as removing all executable content from emails to more in-depth actions, like sending suspicious content to a sandboxing tool for detailed analysis. If security incidents are detected by these policies, the organization needs to have actionable intelligence about the scope of the attack. This will help determine what damage the attack may have caused. Once an organization has visibility into all the emails being sent, they can enforce email encryption policies to prevent sensitive email information from falling into the wrong hands.

Email Security Best Practices

One of the first best practices that organizations should put into effect is implementing a secure email gateway. An email gateway scans and processes all incoming and outgoing email and makes sure that threats are not allowed in. Because attacks are increasingly sophisticated, standard security measures, such as blocking known bad file attachments, are no longer effective. A better solution is to deploy a secure email gateway that uses a multi-layered approach.

It’s also important to deploy an automated email encryption solution as a best practice. This solution should be able to analyze all outbound email traffic to determine whether the material is sensitive. If the content is sensitive, it needs to be encrypted before it is emailed to the intended recipient. This will prevent attackers from viewing emails, even if they were to intercept them.

Training employees on appropriate email usage and knowing what is a good and bad email is also an important best practice for email security. Users may receive a malicious email that slips through the secure email gateway, so it’s critical that they understand what to look for. Most often they are exposed to phishing attacks, which have telltale signs. Training helps employees spot and report on these types of emails.


Alliance Partners