Email Security Solutions for Blocking Email-based Cyberattacks

Email security solutions are an essential part of a cyber defense strategy and protect against one of the most common attack vectors; however, important as email security solutions are for blocking threats, they should be augmented with other security solutions. In this article, we explain what email security products can and cannot do, why you should strongly consider upgrading your email defenses, and the additional security solutions you should implement to protect against a constantly evolving threat landscape.

Why are Email Security Solutions Necessary?

Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actors and cybercriminals use a variety of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) in their attacks on businesses, but email is the most common. Businesses use email to communicate internally and externally, and it is common for emails to contain sensitive data and intellectual property. That information is extremely valuable to cybercriminals, but emails can also be used to gain a foothold in a business network to conduct a much more extensive attack. In addition to stealing data in email accounts, threat actors can gain access to multiple devices, move laterally within a network, steal much larger amounts of data, and conduct ransomware attacks.

Most cyberattacks start with emails, and the number of email-based attacks has been increasing year over year. In 2021, phishing attacks increased by 161% according to Lookout Inc., ransomware attacks doubled in frequency in 2021, and attacks on governments worldwide increased by 1,885% in 2021. Without robust email security solutions to identify and block malicious emails, businesses will face a high risk of suffering a costly cyberattack and data breach.

What will Email Security Solutions Block?

Email security solutions are used by businesses to block productivity-draining spam emails and malicious threats such as phishing emails, business email compromise (BEC) attacks, malware, ransomware, and botnets. All inbound emails are required to pass through the email security solution where they are subjected to a variety of checks to determine whether the emails are genuine and should be delivered, or if they are spam or malicious and should be blocked. Email security solutions provide businesses with visibility into how they are being targeted, allow them to assess threats and respond, and automatically block all threats that target employees via email.

Email security products can identify malicious links in phishing emails and prevent the emails from being delivered and scan attachments to identify malware and malicious code. Email security solutions can also protect against internal threats and commonly incorporate data loss prevention measures to stop employees from sending sensitive data externally. They can also identify compromised mailboxes if they also incorporate outbound email scanning.

Where Additional Protection is Required

If you currently use Office 365 for email, you will have a degree of protection against email threats. Office 365 includes Exchange Online Protection (EOP) – Microsoft’s basic email security solution. While EOP performs well at blocking spam emails and will block 100% of known malware, it does not perform so well at detecting phishing emails and zero-day malware threats. Additional protection is required to block these threats.

Most email security solutions rely on signature-based detection for detecting malware. That means that if the signature of a particular malware variant is in the definition list, the malware will be identified and blocked. New malware variants will not be detected, as they will not have a signature in the definition list. To block these ‘zero-day’ threats, behavior-based detection mechanisms are required. Sandboxing is used for in-depth analysis of attachments that pass initial AV inspection, to identify and block zero-day malware threats.

Protection against malicious links in emails is provided to a certain extent by email security solutions, but cyber threat actors are constantly changing their tactics to evade email security solutions and get emails containing malicious links delivered to inboxes. Additional protection is required to protect against malicious links in emails.

Emails often contain data that is stored nowhere else, and in the event of a cyberattack that data can be lost. Your email security strategy should include secure email storage to ensure that in the event of a destructive cyberattack (or user error) email data can be rapidly recovered.

Email security gateways will block most email-based threats but will not prevent the interception of emails in transit. Since emails are sent in plain text, if they are intercepted, the content of the emails can be read and emails can be tampered with. To protect sensitive data in transit, emails should be encrypted.

No matter how advanced an email security solution is, it will not block all malicious emails. Some threats will be delivered to employee inboxes where a click or hastily opened email attachment can easily result in a malware infection and data breach. Email security solutions alone are no longer sufficient to block all threats. Additional defenses should be implemented to plug security gaps.

How TitanHQ Can Help

TitanHQ has developed an award-winning email security solution called SpamTitan that protects against advanced email threats such as phishing, spear phishing, botnets, malware, and ransomware. SpamTitan features dual antivirus engines for detecting known malware threats, sandboxing to provide behavior-based protection against zero-day threats, SPF, DKIM, and DMARC email authentication to block email impersonation attacks, and outbound scanning with data loss prevention capabilities. SpamTitan blocks 100% of known malware, zero-day threats, and has an industry-leading spam detection rate of 99.99%.

To help organizations implement a defense-in-depth approach to security and to plus security gaps that email security solutions do not fully address, TitanHQ offers web filtering, email encryption, email archiving, and security awareness training, all of which work seamlessly with SpamTitan to improve security.

WebTitan DNS Filter is an award-winning DNS-based web filtering solution that provides time-of-click protection against embedded hyperlinks in emails, blocks malware downloads from the Internet, and allows businesses to control the web content their users can access. WebTitan is fed threat intelligence from a global network of more than 500 million users and ensures businesses are protected against emerging threats within minutes of discovery.

TitanHQ developed EncryptTitan to protect business email communications and prevent the interception of business email data in transit. EncryptTitan allows businesses to automate email encryption for emails and attachments to make sure only the intended recipients can open emails. EncryptTitan provides end-to-end encryption for emails and supports keyword-based encryption – if certain keywords are found in outbound emails, they will automatically be encrypted.

Secure email storage is vital to protect business-critical emails from accidental or deliberate deletion, provide data loss protection to meet legal and compliance requirements, and ensure that emails can be quickly and easily found on demand. ArcTitan is a cloud-based email archiving solution that automates email archiving and stores emails in a tamperproof cloud repository to ensure business continuity in the event of an email server outage.

Employees will encounter threats so need to be trained on how to recognize them and avoid them. SafeTitan is TitanHQ’s security awareness training and phishing simulation platform, and the only behavior-driven security awareness solution that delivered training in real-time. The solution includes an extensive library of training content and a phishing email simulation platform with thousands of templates, which are updated to include simulations of the latest threats.

If you want to improve security and protect against the full range of email and web-based threats, give the TitanHQ team a call. TitanHQ solutions are available on a free trial so you can see how easy they are to use and how they improve protection against cyber threats.