Understanding Malicious URL Protection - And Why You Need It to Secure Your Email
- by Brittany Day
Email attacks are always evolving, and because of the “new normal” we face during this pandemic, the digital threat landscape is far more dangerous than ever. Security researchers estimate that there has been a 600% increase in phishing campaigns due to COVID-19, and the majority of these attacks rely on malicious links to steal credentials or deliver malware. Research shows that 1 in 10 employees will click on a malicious link - and just one wrong click can have serious consequences including account compromise, data theft, financial loss, reputation damage and lost productivity.
Implementing malicious URL protection as part of a comprehensive email security strategy is imperative in defending against phishing, business email compromise (BEC) and other attacks involving malicious links. Now you may be wondering - what exactly is malicious URL protection and how does it work? Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered! In only a few minutes of your time, this article will demystify malicious URL protection and explain why this feature is a “non-negotiable” when it comes to safeguarding your email against persistent and emerging exploits.
What Is URL Protect and How Does It Work?
Despite the fact that HTML email allows users to hover over a link to view its destination, the reality is that the majority of us do not engage in this security best practice. Malicious URL protection eliminates the risk of a potentially devastating “wrong click” that could result in the submission of credentials or the loss of control of one’s device through the download of ransomware, spyware or other malicious executable software.
While many email security solutions rely on URL rewriting to detect malicious links, this strategy can provide users with a false sense of security - often doing more harm than good. While the process of URL rewriting may be understood by IT professionals, many users may be under the impression that any ‘Safe’ link is indeed safe - although this is often not the case. Thus, URL rewriting can actually have the side effect of increasing the likelihood of users clicking on malicious links.
Guardian Digital URL Protect service takes a different approach to combating malicious URLs - providing multi-layered detection and blocking of malicious URLs by comparing domains and hosts against common blocklists, scanning destination websites in real-time to determine if they are malicious or safe. With this feature, URLs are also evaluated for credential content to detect fraudulent, zero-day credential-phishing sites. If a link is unsafe, the email in which it appears never reaches the recipient.
Guardian Digital URL Protect conducts a dynamic analysis of all files, extracting links from Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, archive files (ZIP, AIZip, JAR) and other file types (uuencoded, HTML), and using advanced techniques involving machine learning for real-time analysis.
The image above is a phishing email that was identified and quarantined by Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security. The email contains a malicious link leading to a fraudulent website where the recipient would be prompted to enter his or her account credentials - which would then be in the hands of the attackers behind this scam. While this email may appear legitimate at first, there are some definite “red flags” that indicate it is fraud. First, the email conveys a sense of urgency in both the subject line and the body, which is intended to encourage users to act fast without carefully examining the email or stopping to think things through. The nonspecific salutation and signature are also indications that this email is fraudulent.
Stats and Trends That You Should Be Aware Of
- Phishing attacks using malicious URLs increased by over 600% in Q3 of 2017, when measured year-over-year.
- Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security identified and blocked more phishing emails containing malicious links in May of 2020 than in any month prior since the company’s inception over two decades ago.
- A recent survey conducted by Osterman Research found that, on average, 24% of a security analysts’ 40-hour workweek is spent investigating, detecting or remediating phishing emails.
Why URL Defense Is More Important than Ever
Cyber criminals are taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting remote work environment, launching sophisticated new phishing, malware and BEC campaigns targeting cloud email users and preying off human emotion. The majority of these scams employ malicious URLs leading to fake login pages of fraudulent websites.
A slew of recent phishing campaigns are targeting consumer trust in video conferencing platforms including Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet to steal personal information and wreak further havoc in people’s lives during this challenging time. One such campaign involves a fraudulent Microsoft Teams email containing a button to “open” Teams, which is actually a malicious URL that will download malware to the user’s computer. These links are flagged as malicious with Guardian Digital URL Protect service and the email quarantined before ever reaching the user.
The above image is a fraudulent Microsoft Teams email blocked by Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security. The “Recover account” link in this email is malicious and, when clicked, would install malware on the victim’s device. This phishing email is extremely convincing and without the implementation of malicious URL protection as part of a comprehensive email security solution, it would be very easy to fall for this dangerous scam.
Malicious URL protection technology is most effective when implemented as part of a comprehensive, defense-in-depth approach to email security. We strongly recommend that users select a multi-layered cloud email security solution that seamlessly integrates with the cloud platform they are using, providing critical additional layers of defenses. Look for a solution that incorporates advanced, real-time malicious URL protection techniques - mitigating the risk of human error and safeguarding cloud email accounts in this time of heightened vulnerability.
Have additional questions about malicious URL protection? Leave a comment below and one of our security experts will be in touch with you shortly.
- Thinking Strategically about Email Security in 2021 and Beyond
- Behind the Shield: EnGarde Cloud Email Security Explained
- Open Source: A Powerful, Yet Underutilized Weapon against Phishing & Zero-Day Attacks
- Buyer's Guide: What to Prioritize in an Email Security Solution
- Buyer's Guide to Office 365 & Workspace Email Security
- EnGarde Cloud Email Security: The Logical Solution to Cyber Risk in Office 365
- Exchange Servers Are Vulnerable - Learn How To Secure Your Email Server Now
- Top Email Security Risks in 2021 - How To Set Your Business Up for Safety & Success
- Ransomware By The Numbers: How Big Is My Risk?
- SMB Ransomware Warnings & How To Prevent an Attack
- Apache SpamAssassin 3.4.6 Release Fixes Two Potentially Aggravating Bugs
- Top Tips and Advice for Staying Safe Online in a Work-from-Home World
- Demystifying Phishing Attacks: How to Protect Yourself Now
- Why Your Business Needs Better Email Security
- Why Ransomware is a Threat to Business
- How to Protect Sensitive Data & Maintain Client Trust in Financial Services Industry
- Why Office 365 Users Are Moving Away from Relying on Default Email Protection Alone
- What You Need to Know to Shield Your Business from Ransomware
- Why You Need DMARC to Secure Email against Spoofing Attacks & Sender Fraud
- Biden's Cybersecurity Efforts Highlight the Power of this Key Technology
- Shortcomings of Endpoint Security in Securing Business Email
- Open Source Utilization in Email Security Demystified
- Limitations of Microsoft 365 Email Security & How To Close These Dangerous Gaps
- Think Like A Criminal: What You Need to Know About Social Engineering Attacks in 2021
- Complete Guide to Email Viruses & Best Practices to Avoid Infections
- Security Expert Dave Wreski Discusses Guardian Digital’s Use of Open Source for Email Security
- Are Employees the Weakest Link in Your Email Security Strategy?
- Top Email Security Trends Putting Your Business at Risk of Attack in 2021
- There’s a Lot to be Gained with Effective Email Security
- You’ve Got Mail: How To Tell If It’s Fraud
- How To Keep Email Private with TLS
- DMARC Quarantine vs. Reject: Which Should You Implement to Secure Business Email against Sender Fraud?
- Encryption: An Essential Yet Highly Controversial Component of Digital Security
- Business Email Security Redefined: Key Benefits of Securing Your Business Email with Guardian Digital
- 8 Business Email Security Best Practices
- Demystifying Email Encryption: Stop Sender Fraud
- Demystifying Tax Fraud: How to Avoid Falling Victim to Deceptive, Costly Scams This Tax Season
- Coronavirus Phishing Scams are On the Rise - Is Your Business Email at Risk of Infection?
- Dave Wreski: A Passionate Engineer Brings the Power of Open Source to Business Email Security
- FBI: Existing Cloud Email Protection Inadequate Against Phishing, Ransomware
- Email Risk is Universal: Securing Business Email in Every Industry Sector
- The Remote Worker's Guide to Safely Navigating Office 365
- Why Your Business Needs Superior Email Protection
- Defending Against COVID Email Spoofing Attacks with DMARC
- Open-Source Security Is Opening Eyes
- Think Like A Criminal: How To Write A Phishing Email
- The Four Biggest Email Threats Your Business Faces Today
- Everything On DocuSign Phishing Attacks in 3 Minutes
- Understanding Payload-Less Email Attacks in Under 3 Minutes
- Demystifying Fileless Malware in Less than 3 Minutes
- Apache SpamAssassin Leads A Growing List of Open-Source Projects Taking Steps to Correct Instances of Racism and White Privilege
- Cyber Risk Is Greater than Ever in the Legal Industry
- Understanding Malicious URL Protection - And Why You Need It to Secure Your Email
- Email Security for SMBs Beyond COVID-19
- Email Risk Is BIG for SMBs - How To Protect Your Business Now
- Why Email Security Is More Important Than Ever in This 'New Reality'
- The Threat of CEO Fraud Extends Beyond the C-Suite
- Managed Services: A Key Element of Effective Email Security that Even Modern Solutions Lack
- How to maintain security when employees work remotely: Advice from Leading Security Experts
- FBI: The 2020 Presidential Election Is Under Attack by Email Scammers
- AT&T Security Researchers Identify a Correlation between Strong Cybersecurity and Business Success
- The Aftermath of a Cyberattack Pt. 1: Phishing Recovery Basics
- It Pays to be Prepared! Ransomware Preparedness & Recovery Basics
- Breaking Down Fileless Malware: Anatomy of an Attack
- Keep the Holidays Merry & Bright - Beware of These Sneaky Seasonal Phishing Scams
- Migrating Business Email: The Hidden Complexities You Need To Know
- SPF, DKIM & DMARC: Definition & How They Secure Email Against Sender Fraud?
- Your Current Approach to Email Security May Not Be Enough
- Ways to Prevent Email Account being compromised in a Breach
- Celebrating 20 Years of Revolutionizing Digital Security
- IBM Closes its $34 Billion Acquisition of Red Hat
- Interview with Security Expert and Author Ira Winkler
- What is Phishing Email? How to prevent Phishing email scams?
- Ways Our Business Email Exceed Your Expectations
- Spear Phishing Protection - Definition & How To Recognize Spear Phishing Email
- What is Whaling (Whaling Phishing)? & How to Prevent Whaling attacks?
- Business Email Compromise (BEC) - Definition & Prevention From BEC Attacks
- Wire Transfer Scams Involving Real Estate Transactions: How to Prevent Fraud with Effective Email Security
- Guardian Digital and Mautic: A Dynamic Open-Source Duo
- Email Malware - How to Recognize & Prevent Malware Email Attack
- An Open-Source Success Story: Apache SpamAssassin Celebrates 18 Years of Effectively Combating Spam Email
- What is Spam Email - Types & How to Prevent Spam Emails?
- 2020: A New Decade of Digital Threats - Is Your Business Email Secure?
- Linux: An OS Capable of Effectively Meeting the US Government’s Security Needs Heading into 2020
- Complete Guide on Email Security & Threats Faced by Organizations
- What Are Zero-Day Attacks & How Can I Prevent Them?
- Guardian Digital Keeps its Customers Protected from Intel Design Flaw
- Security Spotlight: Open Source Email Security Solutions
- Top Six Advantages of Open Source Development/Products
- Python and Bash - Contenders for the most used scripting language
- Guardian Digital Outlines Top 4 Benefits of Choosing Cloud
- Unrivaled Protection Against Today’s Most Dangerous Threats
- Guard Your Email Accounts Against Today’s Most Dangerous Threats
- Security Highlights from Defcon 26
- Linux / Open Source FAQs: Common Myths / Misconceptions
- Email Security FAQs Answered by Guardian Digital
- Guardian Digital Mail Systems: Designed to be Secure Without Fail