October 16th, 2018

Email Filtering and Security: What You Need to Know

Email is pretty much the only way in which businesses communicate today. According to statistics published in 2015, we were generating over 200 billion emails per day and it was predicted that this figure would grow at a rate of 5% every year. It would be safe to assume that the estimation wasn’t wrong and that we are producing more emails today.

Email has been the preferred option for a wide variety of reasons. To begin with, it is very simple. Everybody knows how to send an email and it really doesn’t take much to learn. Then, there’s the very nature of email that makes it an effective option. You can send an email anywhere and at any time.

But, here’s the thing – simplicity and flexibility are what make email vulnerable. Yes, its biggest strengths are also its greatest weaknesses. Email is so simple that anyone with basic knowledge can intercept it and use it to their own benefit.

You see, email is just like any other form of communication that occurs over the internet. The information is sent over a public network. This includes servers belonging to various third-party entities. These entities can intercept, read, and even alter the email, if the email is not well-secured.  Generally, it is also trivial to forge email and send mass email.

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Needless to say, the statistics reflect this. In 2017, Symantec released a report in which it was estimated that more than half our emails were spam; 54% to be specific. It was also determined that around 1 out of 9 email users encountered malware in early 2017.

In another study from Clutch, 57% of IT decision makers reported that their respective organizations had fallen victim to phishing attacks.

Attacks are Evolving

The situation is only getting worse. Hackers and cybercriminals are finding unique ways to target emails. For instance, let’s look at FIN7, one of the most sophisticated hacker groups to be identified yet. The group uses complex social engineering techniques to target its victims.

Their modus operandi involves contacting the target using online web forms that are mailed to the target’s email address. This is done to create the illusion of trust. Once the exchange occurs, the hackers convince the target to open attached documents that have been mailed along with the form.

To boost the chances of the attachment being opened, FIN7 members will make a call and discuss the contents of the mail. Needless to say, this often ends as intended since the basic amount of trust has already been established. Once the attachment is opened, the target’s system gets infected with malware.

One such malware used by FIN7 was the Carbanak malware. The malware was used to compromise banking companies by making it possible for the hackers to capture screenshots of desktop activity and even record videos. The captured data was further used to steal important credentials that gave access to critical data.

Staying Safe

As you can see, it’s quite important to protect your emails by taking the necessary precautions. One way to do this is by filtering your emails. Email filtering involves preventing attacks by eliminating suspicious emails. In other words, possibly dangerous emails are filtered out using email filtering solutions.

There are specific solutions available on the market to help you with this. LuxSci’s Premium Email Filtering service is one. This particular service comes with a “Click Protection” feature that filters out emails with malware and phishing links.

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Malware and phishing links are the two of the most common types of links used by hackers. A phishing link will take you to a fraudulent site that will capture your financial or personal information. Malware links will take you to a site that is infected with spyware, malware, or viruses.

Apart from using filtering solutions, organizations must also train their employees to detect phishing mails since filtering and security solutions cannot identify each and every threat. Some of the common traits of phishing mails include suspicious addresses. Email addresses often end in a “.co” rather than “.com” or “.edu.”

Employees should learn to verify links, which can be done by simply hovering over the given link. This will indicate what site the link leads to by highlighting the URL.

Even the appearance of mail can paint a fairly clear picture. For instance, logos or graphics that look odd or unprofessional can serve as a giveaway. Other than that, even grammatical errors and misspellings can be good indicators of a possible phishing scam. This is even truer when the mail claims to be from a government office or a reputable organization.

Finally, the most important rule to be shared with your employees is to not click links or download attachments from sources that they are not familiar with or do not expect. Employees must be taught to download links only from senders that they are a 100% familiar with. Additionally, they must also check with the sender about whether or not the link/attachment came from them if they are not expecting an email requesting them to download the attachment.

Want to discuss how LuxSci’s HIPAA-Compliant Email Solutions can help your organization?  Interested in more information about “smart hosting” your email from Microsoft to LuxSci for HIPAA compliance? Contact Us


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