Email Security Intelligence - Buyer's Guide: What to Prioritize in an Email Security Solution

Business email risk is universal - and greater than ever in our increasingly digital society. Understanding the risk you face online is the first step in reducing it. To help you evaluate your current email security solution, as well as other solutions that you may be considering, we’ve put together a email security checklist of key characteristics that buyers should look for in an email security solution for their business.

To complement this checklist, we encourage you to use our free Email Security Assessment Tool, which will provide you with further insight into the magnitude of your email risk and expert advice on how to secure your email to prevent expensive attacks and breaches in this heightened digital threat environment. If you're in the market for a business email security solution, the tool can also be used to help evaluate the products you are looking into.

The Modern Threat Landscape 

The threats that users and organizations face online daily have been magnified as a result of remote workers’ increased reliance on email for business communications, widespread migration to vulnerable cloud platforms like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace and the persistent fear and uncertainty surrounding this pandemic. Cyberattacks - over 90% of which begin with a phishing email - are a serious threat to all businesses’ users, data and reputation and often result in significant, costly downtime or worse - permanent closure. Sixty percent of SMBs that get hit with ransomware are forced out of business within six months of experiencing the attack. Organizations can no longer get away with a subpar email security strategy, as modern cyber threats like spear phishing and fileless malware are highly targeted, sophisticated and evasive. Safeguarding email against today’s advanced attacks requires an adaptive, multi-layered email defense strategy, fully-managed around-the-clock by a team of experts.

Here's what you should prioritize in a business email security solution whether you are looking for Google Workspace email secuity checklist or Microsoft 365.

Business Email Security Checklist

1. Multi-Layered Supplementary Defenses

Effective modern security is all about defense in depth. With the level of sophistication and evasiveness displayed in today’s attacks, no single security feature or “layer” of defense alone provides sufficient protection. This is especially true in the realm of email security. Built-in security defenses provided in Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace are ineffective in combating advanced attacks like spear phishing and zero-day exploits, as these defenses are static and single-layered. Moreover, attackers are now engineering their malicious campaigns to bypass these simplistic filters. Due to the architectural uniformity of cloud platforms, malicious actors are able to open any account and test their methods until they are able to bypass default security features.

Safeguarding the cloud mailbox against modern attacks requires critical supplementary defenses designed to fill the gaps in default protection. An effective supplementary solution must be proactive, leveraging multi-layered detection engines informed by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) and Machine Learning (ML) to detect and block threats before they reach the network.

2. Sender Fraud Protection with Advanced Email Authentication Protocols

Properly implemented email authentication protocols - namely, SPF, DMARC and DKIM - are an essential component of an effective email security solution. These protocols verify sender identity, confirm the legitimacy of messages and set up key standards and barriers for email communications, preventing sender fraud and spoofing - techniques used in the majority of modern cyberattacks.

Learn how SPF, DMARC and DKIM secure email against sender fraud in this blog post.

3. Malicious URL Protection

Phishing is the predominant modern cyber threat businesses face. Although attackers are increasingly employing stealthy fileless tactics in their deceptive scams, the majority of phishing attacks still leverage malicious URLS. Thus, malicious URL protection is a critical aspect of securing business email against phishing and other dangerous, persistent threats.

Learn about malicious URL protection and why you need it to secure your email in this blog post.

4. Adaptive Real-Time Protection Supported by a Global Input Program

In the context of this modern threat landscape, securing business email requires intuitive defenses capable of rapidly adapting to the ever-evolving threats that challenge them with automatically-adjusting detection algorithms that anticipate and block attacks in real-time.

To fortify email against attacks and prevent breaches, organizations should implement an advanced auto-learn security system that scrutinizes millions of attributes of each email that passes through it, quickly utilizing resources of systems around the world to identify and block threats. Preferable, this system would be engineered using the innovative open-source development model. In this collaborative model, emails gathered from millions of systems from around the world are used to identify patterns and perform large-scale tests on filters. Results of these tests are then distributed back to the community and incorporated into open-source email security systems, equipping them with highly effective zero-day and phishing detection capabilities.

5. Managed Services & Expert, Accessible Support

Managed services is a key characteristic of effective email protection that is too often overlooked. The ongoing expert system monitoring, maintenance and support that these services provide simplifies administration, improves security and reduces costs for businesses, delivering a rapid return on investment (ROI). In this model, the email security provider you select partners with your company in securing its users, critical data and reputation by becoming a permanent extension of your IT team, and acting as  the front line of defense against cyber thieves. The team of security experts overseeing your systems around-the-clock considers the individual risks your business face and works with your company to develop a strategy specific to your needs. This often involves identifying the individuals within your organization who are most likely to be targeted in an attack, and closely monitoring them to watch for targeted threats. It should be noted that not all managed services providers live up to these ideals - making it imperative that you select a reputable, trustworthy provider.

When choosing an email security provider, companies should also prioritize expert, accessible customer support. This level of support - which is unfortunately pretty rare in the technology industry - offers invaluable convenience and peace-of-mind, knowing that answers and assistance are a simple phone call away.

Ensure below checklist for securing Google Workspace & Microsoft 365 emails at the minimum:

1 Enable Sender Fraud Protection (SPF)
2 Enable DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
3 Enable Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC)
4 Set up a email spam filter
5 Enable mail relay parameters
6 Create a throttling policy for all users of Microsoft Exchange
7 Disable local email domain
8 Set attachment restrictions
9 Ensure log visiblity and history
10 Consider email encryption
11 Turn on DNSSEC to prevent any DNS attack vectors
12 Educate your employees
13 Regularly test configurations
14 Backup your data

Next Steps

Does your business’s current email security strategy lack any of these key elements? If so, you are at heightened risk of suffering a cyberattack or a breach.Next Steps

Get further insight into the magnitude of your business’s email risk, advice on how you can reduce it and insight into how solutions you are considering measure up using our free Email Security Test tool.

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