Learn How To Spot Threats to Business Email
Familiarize yourself with common signs of phishing, ransomware and business email compromise (BEC).
Email-borne attacks are more problematic for businesses than ever. SMBs (small-to-medium-sized businesses) are a favorite target among cybercriminals since these organizations often lack adequate resources and expertise devoted to cybersecurity. Thus, knowing how to spot threats to business email and implementing an effective email security strategy is highly important for these businesses.
Email risk is significant for all businesses, especially SMBs, and has only been heightened since the pandemic. Malicious actors have been exploiting businesses’ increased dependence on cloud email, lack of IT staffing and funding, and rushed deployments of vulnerable cloud platforms like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Some of the most common and dangerous modern email threats are phishing, ransomware, and business email compromise (BEC).
What is Phishing?
A phishing campaign usually aims to get people to reveal financial information, credentials, or other sensitive data. While sending out spam emails in bulk is a tactic that is commonly used by phishers in generic, large-scale campaigns, phishers are now shifting in favor of targeted, well-researched attacks. Modern phishing campaigns often employ social engineering techniques to manipulate people’s anxieties. These deceptive tactics pressure recipients to act rapidly without stopping to think.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts a victim's data and demands payment, usually cryptocurrency, in exchange for the decryption key. It can be spread through infected email attachments, downloads, or vulnerabilities in software. Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years and can devastate individuals and businesses. It is important to regularly back up your data and keep your software up to date to help prevent ransomware attacks.
What is BEC (Business Email Compromise)?
Business email compromise (BEC) is a type of fraud that usually involves cybercriminals gaining access to a company's email system and then using that access to impersonate employees or executives to trick other employees, customers, or vendors into making payments or sharing sensitive information. BEC attacks can be very convincing, often involving careful research and spear-phishing tactics to gain the target's trust. This type of fraud can cause significant financial losses and damage to a company's reputation, making it important for businesses to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect themselves.
How Can I Spot These Threats?
Although these threats can be highly deceptive and difficult to detect, there are various best practices that you can implement to avoid biting the hook in a phishing attack that could lead to BEC or installing ransomware on a company device. To avoid becoming a victim of these costly cyberattacks, always exercise caution with links and attachments from unknown or unexpected senders, and be wary of urgent requests and requests for personal information. Always cautiously approach unknown emails, websites, or downloads, and protect corporate email accounts with two-factor authentication (2FA).
- Think before you act! Evaluate each email you receive before clicking on links or downloading attachments. For example, ask yourself: Does an order confirmation email you’ve received correspond to a recent purchase you have made? Do the sender and recipient addresses make sense?
- Check for spelling and grammatical errors, indicating that an email is fraudulent. Also, keep an eye out for suspicious subject lines and signatures.
- If you receive an email from a source you know, but it seems suspicious, contact that starts with a new email rather than just hitting reply.
- Scan all attachments for viruses or dangerous code.
- Verify shared links to ensure they do not lead to fraudulent websites.
- If an email appears strange in any way, call the sender to confirm the email's legitimacy.
The Increase in Cloud Email Usage Has Introduced Heightened Risk
Businesses rely more heavily on cloud email than ever to operate in this challenging remote environment. They frequently sacrifice the security of their users, data, and reputation by failing to fortify cloud email with critical supplementary protection.
Understanding the magnified digital risk you face in this challenging, transitional time is critical in staying safe while working remotely. Cloud email users face many daily threats they may not be aware of. In this tumultuous time, we want to help you avoid the dangers of increased cloud email use by implementing the type of proactive email defenses required to stop these modern attacks.
Best Practices for Proactive Email Defense
Many smaller companies make the mistake of believing they do not have to worry about email security since they are small and therefore not on the cyber threat radar or that because of their size, they do not have room in their budget for more high-quality email security planning. But the truth is that cybercriminals seek to exploit small businesses the most since they are often the most vulnerable for these exact reasons. And so when a small company becomes victimized by a cyberattack, its only option is to recover from the damage as best as possible—reactively improving its security instead of proactively improving its security before the damage was even done. The following list contains actionable tips to protect your business better and implement multiple layers of defense to combat advanced threats. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Don't rely solely on endpoint security
Don’t rely on endpoint security alone - the endpoint is the last line of defense, and if something goes wrong, it provides malicious hackers with easy access to your system.
Use strong passwords and individual user accounts on shared PCs
You should be the only user to access your home endpoint. When your home PC connects to your company’s network, it becomes one of its various endpoints. Use a strong password in your user account in your operating system, and if you share your PC, ensure each user has their account in your operating system.
Encrypt data with a reliable VPN and avoid insecure networks
Use a VPN to encrypt data between you and your server. When selecting a VPN, watch for pitfalls like free VPNs, which often carry inherent security flaws and privacy issues. Avoid insecure networks, like using a company device on public wifi.
Keep operating system and applications updated
Ensure that your operating system and all applications are updated - remember that your system and applications are only as secure as their latest security patches.
Verify the legitimacy of emails with authentication protocols
Be wary of emails from personal email addresses. Use email authentication protocols to confirm the legitimacy of messages you receive. Sender authentication protocols help prevent spoofing, business email compromise (BEC), and other dangerous exploits.
Use separate email addresses for business and personal use
Business emails should be used exclusively for professional reasons; users should have a separate email address for personal use.
Implement multi-layered supplementary cloud email protection
Implement comprehensive, proactive supplementary cloud email protection that seamlessly complements default security measures with critical additional layers of defense. Defense-in-depth is crucial in fortifying cloud email against today’s advanced threats.
Keep Learning About How to Improve Business Email Security
Keep learning about fortifying business email against today’s advanced threats by exploring the resources below:
- Implementing a comprehensive email security system can help prevent advanced threats, such as targeted spear phishing and ransomware.
- Learn how to protect your business from ransomware.
- By following these best practices, you can also Improve your email security posture to protect against attacks.
- Keep the integrity of your email safe by securing the cloud with spam filtering and enterprise-grade anti-spam services.
- Get the latest updates on how to stay safe online.
- Avoid Phishing Emails
- Be Cautious of Spam Email
- Be Wary of Malicious URLs
- Protect Against Spoofing & Sender Fraud
- Protect the Privacy of Your Email with TLS
- Don’t Rely on Native Microsoft 365 Email Protection Alone
- Implement TLS to Keep Your Email Secure
- Endpoint Security Is Not Enough
- Conduct Regular Email Security Audits
- Configure Email Account Settings with Security in Mind
- Learn How To Spot Threats to Business Email
- Backup Your Data and Isolate Your Backups Offline
- Protect Business Email from Phishing Attacks
- Avoid Sending Sensitive Information Over Email
- Learn About Malicious Links
- Prevent Zero-Day Attacks
- Business Email Is for Business Only
- Learn How To Identify Social Engineering Attacks
- Know Your Email Risk
- Safeguard Your Inbox from Malicious Mail
- Understand How Phishing Attacks Are Carried Out
- Know the Steps in a Spear Phishing Attack
- Familiarize Yourself with the Anatomy of a Whaling Attack
- Understand How Malware Attacks Work
- Learn the Steps in a Ransomware Attack
- Understand How to Protect Your Company Against Business Email Compromise (BEC)
- Know What Zero-Day Attack Is & How It Works
- Familiarize Yourself with the Phases of an Account Takeover (ATO) & Lateral Phishing Attack
- Learn How to Recognize & Prevent Social Engineering Attacks
- Understand the Types of Email Viruses to Be on the Lookout For