The last year, maybe like no year before, demonstrated clearly just how much every moment and aspect of our day-to-day lives depend on the Internet. This dependence leads to an increase of risks and threats to our “online security”.
According to the latest Data Breach Investigation Report, email is still the main vehicle for delivering cyber threats, with particular reference to malicious links and attachments which are developed in order to carry malware. 46% of those surveyed included companies who said they had received the bulk of malware delivery attempts via email. Social Engineering attacks also remain very high, around 96%, and phishing is confirmed the favourite form, while successful Business Email Compromise deliveries has led to an average loss of $ 44,000 per company.
According to a Radicati Group’s study, there will be more than 4.2 billion email users within the first months of 2022; this means that about half of the global population will be using email to communicate. Consequently, a cyber attack delivered via email has a high chance of being successful and spreading like wildfire.
For example, let’s think about the Account Takeover phenomenon, a fraudulent identity theft attack method: cybercriminals obtain a victimis’ account credentials through brand impersonation, phishing and social engineering techniques and then monitor an organisations activities to learn how the company does business, manages financial transactions and even communicate with one another. This allows the cybercriminal to glean valuable information to resell to competitors, damage a companies reputation or bottom line, generate and spread further cyber attacks or acquire further credential logins, creating an endless cycle.
A single malicious email can cause a significant amount of damage to networks and, in some cases, completely halt business growth. This is exactly why email protection should be considered a crucial part of any businesses cyber-security strategy. Investing in email security is not an expense, but a saving. While it may seem convenient to use free secure email gateways, there are drawbacks to consider, such as the lack of real-time updates to block emerging threats or a lack of comprehensive security features. During the last year we have witnessed how cybercriminals rapidly change their strategies to become more effecient at delivering succesful attacks, circumventing free and simple to manouvere security platforms, negating cost saving benefits realised by implementing free email protection there resulting in larger costs to fix and recover from them – bringing the total cost of a free solution, to many thousands of pounds more expensive than if they had paid for one which can offer real-time protection and the use of a combination of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, enabling predictive threat analysis.
What is a secure email gateway?
A secure email gateway is essentially a firewall that scans your incoming email in order to protect your mailbox from email-borne cyber threats, such as phishing attacks, compromised business emails, malware, next-generation spam, or fraudulent content of various kinds. But a secure email gateway can also scan outgoing messages to prevent sensitive data from leaving an organization.
What do you need to consider when choosing a secure email gateway?
Choosing a secure email gateway can be a long and difficult process. There are many gateways available on the market and, even if they look very similar, there are numerous differences. To help you along this path, we have suggested some points that you should take in consideration:
- Deployment: it is important to have the possibility to choose between a cloud and local service, based on the needs of your organization
- Threat intelligence, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, to detect and block both emerging & known threats and help administrators to understand which attack techniques and strategies are used the most against their company
- Active analysis of URLs and attachments, to quickly and accurately block various types of malware spread in this way, thus preventing phishing attacks
- Response capabilities, to recognise a malicious email and automatically identify and block all subsequent ones
- Control of outgoing content to prevent sensitive data from being released
What are the advantages of using a secure email gateway?
First and foremost, a secure email gateway helps to plug gaps in email security. It is a big mistake to think that installing an antivirus engine will protect you against threats delivered via email, or to believe that solutions such as Microsoft365™ (formerly Office365™), offer a complete and secure email gateway service. A recent test carried out on numerous implementations of Microsoft365™ lasting for 1321 days across 175.110 users and 109.284.844 emails, demonstrated that a large number of threats were not intercepted by security filters included in the solution. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have become very good at finding strategies to circumvent software such as antivirus and multi-vector attacks, which use evasion techniques, such as anti-forensics and encryption, expanding significantly in recent years; exactly why nearly 35% of organizations that have switched to Microsoft365™ are integrating their native email security features with a third-party product that combines threat intelligence with traditional filters.
Furthermore, these malicious actos are well aware that employees are the weak link in the chain and the main vehicle for intrusion into corporate networks: the presence of a secure email gateway allows companies to improve employee safety by blocking unsafe URLs and malicious attachments, which are capable of spreading phishing attacks, compromised business emails, malware, and more.
Another advantage of using a secure email gateway is the ability to preserve the operational continuity of email; in the unlikely instance of a primary server experiencing downtime, a secure email gateway can allow users to send and receive email messages through their web interface.
Another feature that a secure email gateway should offer is quarantine management, to allow users to examine blocked messages and log search in a flexible and customizable way, providing comprehensive reports and useful information to help them decide which messages to release, which senders to blacklist and much more.
Finally, the right email gateway offers maximum security, requires minimal maintenance and operates largely in the background in a “set and forget” manner, guaranteeing continuous protection with minimal use of human and time resource.