Email is often described as the final frontier of cybersecurity due to how rapidly threats can change and new issues can arise.
While some platforms can simply develop protocols, systems, and platforms that keep them safe from the vast majority of threats, email is continuously bombarded by new forms of spam, clever malware plots, and malicious files.
Yet, despite how often email is the first point of contact that leads to a major cybersecurity event, it isn’t going anywhere.
Around 4.37 billion emails are sent every single day, a figure that’s continuously grown since early 2017.
As one of the primary methods that businesses, individuals, governments, and multinational enterprises use to communicate with one another, email is vital for the ongoing operation of these services.
Without the ability to simply make the switch to a different and more secure method of communication, due to how embedded email is without our general society, cybersecurity experts have had to spend years developing forms of protecting our inboxes.
Why Are Emails So Vulnerable?
The central reason that email is a vulnerable service is the exact reason it has had so much success. Anyone can email absolutely anyone, all they need is the email address of the person.
Without any restrictions on who can email whom, email accounts are continuously exposed to new threats, spam emails, and malicious content.
There are billions of spam emails that are sent out each year. The global connectivity that email provides is exactly why it has become such a prominent target for malicious actors.
However, with how vital email is to communication, there have also been incredible strides to keep it safe.
There are now numerous email security features, systems, and protocols that help to reduce the number of malicious threats that successfully arrive in a user’s inbox.
The Critical Components Of Email Security
Modern email security has countless features that aim to reduce the number of spam emails, block malicious emails from arriving, and secure email accounts.
However, despite advanced deployments that cover all of these functionalities, things will always slip through the cracks.
That said, the firewall protection that most email providers now offer will help tremendously when it comes to keeping your business safe.
Even the basic software for Outlook and Gmail can protect from a huge portion of potentially malicious content.
However, if you want to completely secure your business, you should explore the following components to add to your security solution:
- Secure Email Gateways
- Multi-Factor Authentication
- User Training
Let’s break these down further.
Secure Email Gateways
A secure email gateway (SEG) is a form of email server that companies can use when dealing with internal messaging.
When someone emails your company, typically, the email will just arrive in your employee’s inbox if it passes the email provider’s malicious threat check.
A SEG is an additional server that monitors all of the emails that pass through this initial check, providing another stage to monitor emails and scan for malware and other malicious content.
SEGs are becoming more and more common in modern cybersecurity strategy.
Multi-factor authentication, commonly known as MFA, is a software layer that you can add to your company email accounts.
This additional layer requires that any employee who attempts to log into their account will have to verify their identity from another device.
Typically, this device will be their work phone or through a company-based authentication device.
MFA software creates an additional barrier to email security that will prevent hackers from taking control of your email accounts.
Considering the sheer quantity of information that employees have on their email, this will help keep lots of your private data safe. MFA software is now becoming one of the most prominent additions to email software.
Services like Gmail now offer MFA as a base addition to their email services.
No matter how effective your email security is and how many of these components you incorporate into your system, there will always be holes in your defenses where malicious content slips through.
Nothing is completely secure, with even the best security software only protecting from up to a maximum of 99.99% of email threats.
To give your company the best chance possible of avoiding any further attacks, you should also train your employees to recognize that 0.01% that slip through the cracks.
Your security software will do the vast majority of the heavy lifting. However, employees who understand what threats look like and the process of reporting them will cover the rest of your bases.
Don’t forget the importance of your employees as a component of your security posture.
If businesses want to reduce the number of critical cybersecurity events that occur in any given year, they shouldn’t focus on buying the most flashy platform to protect them.
On the contrary, they should focus the majority of their efforts on their email software and make sure that it is as effective as possible.
The vast majority of critical security events can be traced back to human error. When exploring these events, most come from within the bounds of an email account.
Whether it’s an employee clicking on a spam link or downloading spyware to their computer, everything tends to come through their email.
With that in mind, businesses that understand the importance of email security will be able to continuously enhance their layers of protection.
By developing email security as much as possible, your business will decrease the number of malicious threats that ever arrive to your employees, helping to keep everyone safe and mitigate security events before they can even occur.
Despite the progress we’ve seen over the past few years, email security should still be every organization’s top priority.