email viruses explained

Cybercriminals take advantage of an organization’s reliability on email services to distribute viruses and computer codes that can lead to compromised accounts and data loss. Due to how popular email is in modern-day companies, threat actors implement various types of phishing attacks into their techniques to infect devices and spread malware across others. Other email threats come in the form of social engineering attacks, which employ advanced impersonation and coding techniques that make messages appear trustworthy to victims.

Email viruses can steal sensitive information, destroy hardware, and take up time, resources, and energy your workers might need to complete daily operations. Unfortunately, security professionals identify thousands of malware variants every day. This article will discuss the basics of email viruses, how to identify and prevent attacks, and a solution Guardian Digital has to guarantee online email protection.

What are Email Viruses? How Do They Work?

email virusAn email virus sends maliciously coded links, attachments, or downloads in messages that cybercriminals can spread to devices on the same server once a victim opens the email. Computers within a network can all face infection if users are not careful when reading through messages. Threat actors can program viruses to go out to everyone in a victim’s address book following a successful compromise.

Most frequently, email threats take the form of phishing email attacks, malware ransomware attachments, or embedded links with any of the following extensions: .exe, .dll, .com, .bat, .cmd, .pif, .scr, .dot, .xls, .xlt, .docm, .pdf. Since these labels appear regularly, victims hardly think twice about the file, only to have their computer attacked.

Email viruses use spoofed email addresses and compromised accounts in social engineering attacks that manipulate a victim into trusting a cybercriminal due to the supposed legitimacy of a message. Sometimes, user naivety is all a threat actor needs, as victims could spread chain letters and virus warnings to people they know while panicking about the threat. A phishing attack tricks users into facing spam, malware ransomware, and Business Email Compromise email security issues that can have lasting, damaging impacts.

What Types of Email Viruses Should I Know?

New email threats and viruses emerge daily, and an eye for these issues is critical in maintaining a secure email account. Here are the most common and threatening viruses to remember when opening messages in your inbox.

  • In boot sector viruses, malicious code attaches itself to the master boot record, and removing email viruses can be challenging, causing most organizations to reformat their systems completely.
  • During direct action viruses, users open an infected file that spreads encryption throughout a server to make files inaccessible.
  • A resident virus installs itself on PCs and can persist even following primary removal by security professionals.
  • Multipartite viruses infect the boot sector and computer files while spreading rapidly. This type of threat is complicated to remove.
  • In a keylogger virus, malicious actors install spyware on a computer to track the keys a user strikes on a keyboard to put together sensitive information like login credentials, pin codes, and account numbers. This theft can help hackers commit fraud.
  • A polymorphic virus changes its signature as it reproduces to appear harmless to users as it spreads. Antivirus software struggles to detect these email threats, meaning these attacks stay hidden for a long time while encrypting files and embedding malicious code into spam, malware, and other infections.

How Do We Detect Email Viruses?

cybersec tipsCompanies must develop advanced threat detection methods to combat these issues. Here are a variety of antivirus software and email security programs you can employ to prevent malware and viruses from damaging your system:

  • Signature-based detection: Traditional email protection software uses this service to identify new malware variants. It can extract file signatures and log threats in a database for future detection. However, threat actors have found ways to disguise their attacks to avoid matching virus signatures that a company has logged already.
  • Heuristics: This method focuses on examining code to detect new and unknown virus variants so it can combat issues in the future. Heuristics is one of the few programs capable of identifying polymorphic viruses.
  • Automatic email protection: Most email companies have built-in security features that monitor systems for suspicious activity. However, these offers often need to be more robust to prevent phishing email attacks entirely on their own.
  • Sandboxing malware: You can run programs in a virtual environment to see what behaviors you should identify as malicious in an actual email threat situation. Companies use this effective solution sparingly due to its slow pace, but sandboxing can be very effective for organizations that utilize it frequently.
  • Data mining: Machine Learning algorithms classify file behaviors to determine what activity is malicious based on the file’s features.

Antivirus software has limitations even when detecting viruses and other email security risks. They cannot always identify zero-day viruses and need frequent updating since they only detect threats they recognize from their databases.

How Can I Recognize and Prevent Email Virus Infections?

Utilize the best practices for email security to ensure online protection for you and your company. Here are a variety of tactics to implement:

  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links, dangerous executable files as email attachments, or any other download from unknown senders.
  • Integrate a malware URL scanner into your server that can check your messages.
  • Know what to do if you open a phishing link.
  • Patch mail clients, operating systems, and web browsers regularly.
  • Program your mail servers not to open attachments or HTML content immediately and set up content previews so you can see the email without opening it.
  • Verify suspicious emails by contacting the supposed sender separately.
  • Only forward legitimate emails and avoid responding to or sharing information in messages from unsafe sources.
  • Close pop-up ads using a right-click in your taskbar instead of the visible “X” in the corner.
  • Act smart, not fast.

What Solution Does Guardian Digital Offer to Users?

You cannot mitigate malware ransomware, spear phishing attacks, and zero-day exploits through only built-in security features and antivirus software. Modern email threats require organizations to install cloud email security software that is multi-layered and comprehensive for users. Guardian Digital’s EnGarde works in the cloud to combat issues and maintain web and email security. Our defense-in-depth approach to security helps us effectively implement email protection solutions that help you in each of these ways:

  • Work in environments while reassuring that our security professionals provide complete, resilient, fully managed, end-to-end control of your email.
  • Prevent phishing and malicious messages from entering your inbox with adaptive, advanced antivirus engines and heuristics that can pick up on many malware variants and threats.
  • Utilize cryptography to secure endpoint threat protection and encryption.
  • Use a transparent, collaborative development approach to tight email security, flexible implementation, and eliminate vendor lock-in risks.
  • Continue daily operations, knowing exceptional 24/7/365 customer support focuses on online safety for you.

Keep Learning About Email Viruses

In the modern digital landscape, threats are everywhere, and cyber criminals continuously seek new methods to deploy their malicious tactics. Taking as many preventive measures as possible is crucial to email phishing prevention.

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