Email Security Explained

By Dani Magestro
Updated: November 13, 2013

Email Security Explained

Is your email secure? Emails are one of the most important forms of communication within your company. Employees exchange sensitive information everyday over email. This brings up several concerns in regards to security and the possibility of that sensitive information getting in to the wrong hands. There are several areas of concern when it comes to email security. The two major concerns are the transmission and storage of messages. Both of these are equally worrisome when it comes to ensuring your emails are protected. A third concern is having a backup solution should your email system fail.

Have you ever been bombarded with spam? Most of us have. Spam email is responsible for almost all malicious email attacks. It is simple to add an attachment or insert a link redirecting you to a hazardous website. While we can’t control if someone on the inside clicks the link or downloads the file, we can put some security measures in place to help filter out this type of attack. This is where spam filters and firewalls can come into play. Checking every file that comes in as well as the graphics and links in emails can make a huge difference.

Virus attachments on emails have been around a long time and have been the cause of some of the world’s most vicious computer attacks. Often times the virus will install a Trojan which will lie dormant until a later date and then attack without warning. Another instance of viruses invading your email is key loggers which transmit the information you type across a port on your computer to an outside source. That program then passes your sensitive information over to the attacker and your private information is now in the wrong hands. Most spam-based attacks are more annoying than truly serious, and a majority of them do not have code that is meant to harm one specific organization. The attacks are set up to mass distribute with the hopes that even just a few will work in their favor.

In addition to links and files that contain harmful material there is also a new breed of hackers trying to break through your company’s security wall. On the consumer side, phishing is the act of trying to defraud someone by posing as a legitimate organization (usually financial).This is usually intended to capture personal financial information but it can also be used to capture other forms of information and you want to protect your employees from these attacks. There has been an upsurge of phishing lately through businesses email so it’s important to be aware of what the emails look like so you can deal with them accordingly. These emails generally take on the exact visual look of a financial institution email but the links they insert redirect you to the attacker’s website. At that point the end user tries to login and their personal information is now recorded by the attacker.

Using filters like Positini and applications like Panda Cloud can help you protect your company’s most vulnerable information. The anti-spam industry is growing quickly, and for good reason. Spam emails come in all subjects with the hopes of tricking the end user into opening them. There are over 183 billion spam messages sent every day, and many of these are sent to companies. This makes the need for security and anti-spam software and hardware readily apparent.

Finally, there is the need to protect important corporate and personal information from inadvertent or deliberate exposure by email. There are systems from email security vendors that can scan all outgoing email automatically and based on filtering rules, determine if an employee has sent proprietary information or other information that is forbidden by regulation. These systems can block the email and even inform the user  as well as IT security teams so that procedures to prevent the issue arising can be enacted. This area of email security is growing rapidly with the advent of regulatory requirements like HIPPA.

If you are concerned about your company’s email security, be sure to look into several methods for stomping out spam. This includes educating your end user as well as using hardware and software that can help filter out some of the more hazardous emails. Attacks like these not only cost your company in resources, they can cost people their credit worthiness.

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