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Author's profile photo Rishabh Sinha

Email Security Threats Faced by Enterprises & How to Mitigate These

Every year there has been tremendous growth in the number of cyberattacks targeting enterprises in various forms. It is not just the constantly rising cyberattacks but other forms of online threats that are emerging and threatening an enterprise’s digital presence. Email serves as the primary communication channel for any enterprise, both internally and externally. Due to increased cyber risks, email security has become one of the top security concerns for enterprises. Email security threats usually don’t have a fixed source; hence, enterprises need to secure their email systems.

In order to have enhanced email security, enterprises need to adopt an email security solution from a trusted solution provider. Before proceeding to the common email security threats, let’s catch a look at the consequences that a breached email security can have for enterprises.

Understanding the Consequences of Breached Email Security

A breached email security can have disturbing consequences for enterprises. It causes downtime and disruption of core business operations due to the information loss and, more significantly, causes damage to the reputation of the enterprise. A cybersecurity report released in 2018 has stated that nearly 58% of companies have 100K+ files open to everyone, while 41% of enterprises have about 1000 sensitive files that remain open to everyone.

Common Email Security Threats

After seeing the consequences and losses that a breached email security can cause to an enterprise, let’s have a look at some threats that enterprises usually face-

  • Spear Phishing Attacks

Spear phishing attacks are slightly different from the usual phishing attacks. In spear phishing, email attacks tend to be more adaptable and target an individual/organization. In order to perform spear phishing attacks, the cybercriminal undertakes comprehensive research about his ‘targets’ by making their emails look genuine and authentic.

  • Phishing

An email phishing attack represents a security attack carried out by cybercriminals to steal critical business information. Usually, essential business information comprises the usernames and passwords of the management team, details pertaining to financial accounts, and other sensitive information that must not fall into the hands of the enterprise’s competitors. Phishing email attacks are usually masked with the brand indicators of the enterprise. These phishing emails are targeted toward the most susceptible accounts of the enterprises and carry links to websites that can spread the malware to systems.

  • Email Spoofing Attacks

Spoofing is one such email threat that cybercriminals deploy to get access to their ‘target’s’ personal information. Spoofing is considered malpractice where the communication originated from an unknown source that gets depicted as a legit source to the mail receiver. Spoofing is usually delivered to the targeted individuals using multiple channels, such as email, and websites, in the form of malicious links and attachments.

  • Directory Harvest Attacks

Directory harvest attacks or DHA refers to an email threat performed by cyber attackers to get access to email databases that are part of the company’s domain. However, in the case of a DHA, the online attackers follow a simple method, and personal as well as business information is targeted. This can lead to significant damage and spoilt of a digital reputation for any enterprise. Hence, enterprises must secure their email accounts from DHA attacks by utilizing a Mail Protection Service.

  • Whaling

Whaling depicts a phishing attack where cybercriminals target the top management of an enterprise. Whaling denotes a social engineering attack, where the attacker cyber attacker transmits an email threat to someone in the enterprise responsible for carrying out financial transactions. This fraudulent email threat seems authentic and looks like it has been sent by the enterprise head, demanding essential information from employees.

How Can One Stop These Threats?

Numerous threats can loom in email; however, mitigating and averting the associated risks needs to be the top priority for enterprises today. Some common techniques to stop these threats beforehand include-

  • Antivirus:

Antiviruses have become an inevitable component to ensure digital security. Its importance continues to be indispensable for enterprises as they store and process large volumes of business and customer-critical data. Antivirus significantly reduces any possible escalations in email security. Apart from an antivirus, enterprises must also diversify their investments toward other security services and products.

  • Secure Email Gateway:

An email security gateway has been designed mainly to prevent those employees that breach an enterprise’s security policy. With a secure email gateway in place, enterprises can monitor and filter email traffic and identify emails with malicious and vulnerable attachments. A secure email gateway works well when coupled with automated encryption tools. An email encryption tool encrypts sensitive and confidential information via outgoing emails.

  • Use of Strong Passwords:

Leading security services provider companies have repeatedly emphasized strong passwords for corporate emails. Enterprises need to make sure their employees gain the understanding of having strong passwords for their email accounts.

  • Multi-Factor Authentication:

To deploy an additional security layer, enterprises must include multi-factor authentication mechanisms, especially for the top management email ids. Multi-factor authentication helps cross-check the identity of the individual by providing more than 2 pieces of evidence while entering their mail credentials.

  • Staying Cautious of Email Attachments:

Time and again, email attachments have proven to be the best source for injecting digital threats like malware or Trojans into a system. To avoid such threats getting infested, enterprises need to remain vigilant and cautious while downloading email attachments, despite the email source looking legitimate.

Concluding Remarks

For enterprises of any size, be they small or large, the security of emails has to be the primary concern and utmost priority. The obvious and inevitable reason is that emails are the direct and cost-effective communication channel within and outside the organization. Email security threats can significantly damage the crucial data flowing in and out of the organization, with the number of cyber threats rising daily and targeting enterprises. Enterprises must ensure their emails remain safeguarded against digital threats. Additionally, enterprises need to secure emails using various security mechanisms & techniques like multi-factor authentication that offer additional security layers.

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