In this modern mobile era of heightened digital risk, effective email security defenses are of critical importance to the security and success of your business. Over 90% of modern cyberattacks begin with a phishing email, and threats like targeted spear phishing, fileless malware, and zero-day attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and difficult to detect. A successful cyberattack can carry great costs for victims including data theft, significant, costly downtime, financial loss, and severe, lasting reputation damage. Securing business email in 2022 and beyond requires a defense-in-depth strategy that includes multiple layers of proactive technology customized to meet businesses’ individual security needs, and expert ongoing system monitoring, maintenance, and support. 

Many third-party email security solutions on the market fall short in providing the level of protection required to defend against today’s advanced threats, leaving businesses susceptible to damaging cyberattacks and breaches. This article will explore whether your current email security provider is failing to offer the level of protection that is needed to keep your business secure, and how you can make email safe for business with a proactive, multi-layered email security solution.

Common Shortcomings of Email Security

Email is the preferred method of communication in business, and also accounts for the source of over 90% of cyberattacks. The sophistication of attackers’ methods continues to increase making static, single-layered email security defenses alone, like endpoint security solutions and built-in Microsoft 365 email security, ineffective in protecting organizations. As a result, many companies remain exposed and often fail to realize their security solutions are inefficient until there is a breach. 

Even with third-party protection in place, businesses are often still at risk. A recent survey conducted by Osterman Research revealed that an overwhelming number of security teams believe their email security systems to be ineffective against the most serious inbound threats, including ransomware, and 89 percent of organizations experienced one or more successful email breaches during the previous 12 months - most of these incidents due to phishing attacks that compromised Microsoft 365 credentials.

Many email security providers fail to offer the level of customization required to effectively meet businesses’ individual security needs and don’t recognize that security is a process, not a product, and requires an ongoing partnership between the vendor and the client. Additionally, many email security providers sell security in an “a la carte” fashion in which clients must pay extra for additional features and greater levels of protection, as opposed to offering the highest level of protection to all clients free of additional charge.

What Makes a Business Email Security Solution Effective?

Below are list of important features to look for in an ideal email security solution:

Multi-Layered Architecture

The effectiveness of your email security depends on defense in depth as no single security feature alone is enough to defend email against advanced attacks. The solution should include multiple features and technologies designed to work harmoniously to detect and block threats in real-time, building on each other to provide stronger, more effective protection than any of these features would on their own.

Closing Critical Gaps in Built-In Microsoft 365 Email Protection

85% of users report that they have experienced a data breach in their email, despite built-in protection in Microsoft 365. In order to elevate Microsoft 365 and make it safe for businesses, consider implementing additional layers of security provided by a third-party email security solution designed to close critical gaps in static native Microsoft 365. This protection should also include complete phishing, malware, and account takeover protection, as well as expert, ongoing system monitoring maintenance and support.

Expert Managed Services & Accessible Support

Expert, ongoing managed services are a critical component of an email security solution that are too often overlooked, leaving businesses at risk even with third-party protection in place. Email security providers generally fail to offer the individualized level of service required to understand the client's business and the unique threats they face, but rather provide a boilerplate solution that attempts to fit every organization using a one-size-fits-all template.

Many businesses, especially SMBs, face the ongoing challenge of lacking cybersecurity resources and expertise. The vast majority of email security solutions on the market leave management and security to the small business owner or part-time email security administrator, who may lack the time or expertise to figure out how to properly protect their users. A successful attack or breach can lead to data theft, financial loss, reputation damage, and significant downtime or even permanent closure. Forty percent of SMBs are targeted daily by cybercriminals, making it especially crucial that these businesses invest in managed email security services. 

Ongoing system monitoring, maintenance, and support can simplify administration, extend IT resources, improve security and reduce costs, which delivers a rapid return on investment (ROI). Experts should work with you to understand your security needs, identify individuals within your organization who are most likely to be targeted in an attack, and closely monitor them to watch for targeted threats.

Malicious URL Protection

The most common cybersecurity threat against businesses is phishing and the majority of phishing emails will use malicious links to manipulate victims into sharing sensitive credentials or installing malware on their devices. Because of this, malicious URL protection is required for securing business email. While HTML email provides users the ability to hover over a link and view its destination, the majority of users fall short of using best practices. URL rewriting is a strategy found in many email security solutions, however, it can provide a false sense of security, as IT professionals are the only ones who typically fully understand it. Ideally, it should extract links from Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, archive files, and other file types and conduct a dynamic real-time analysis of these files in order to detect malicious URLs leading to compromise.

Email Authentication Protocols

Your security solution should include email authentication protocols to prevent spoofing sender fraud and to protect sensitive information, such as SPF, DMARC, and DKIM. Such standards verify the sender’s identity and confirm the legitimacy of email communications. An effective solution goes beyond standard measures of email authentication, tracking hundreds of thousands of message attributes including sender-recipient relationships, domain reputation, email headers, envelope attributes, and message content.

Complete Spam & Virus Protection

Spam and viruses are a common threat to all email users and can contain dangerous links and attachments, and an email virus can result in inconvenient, costly downtime for businesses. The most effective email security solutions perform predictive spam and virus detection through heuristics analysis - an advanced technique that scans messages for characteristics and behaviors that are unique to spam email.

Open-Source Community Input

Since the beginning of the Internet, Open Source has played a critical role in the innovation and development of the technologies, standards protocols like SPF, DKIM and DMARC that secure communications, and it continues to power the Internet and email to this day. Open Source embodies the values of transparency, accessibility, collaboration, and community, which set the precipice for an open-source development model applied to email security technology. The combined strengths of developers, programmers, engineers, and passionate community members have led to the creation of innovative, flexible software, products, and solutions designed to identify patterns and block malicious emails.

The open-source model draws on a broad development base and extensive resources, tools, and intelligence available through the open-source community, and is supported by a collaborative global input program, resulting in rapid updates and improved security and resiliency. When applied to email security, emails gathered from millions of systems worldwide are used to identify patterns and perform large-scale tests on filters. Findings from these tests are then rapidly distributed back to engineers and incorporated into the technology and solutions that adhere to this model. Effective email security is contingent upon accurately separating malicious email from safe email, and open-source solutions are equipped with the intelligence, resources and agility required to do this effectively. This results in enhanced protection against phishing, zero-day attacks and other dangerous threats for businesses that have implemented a well-designed open-source email security solution.

How Can I Make Email Safe for Business with Comprehensive, Fully-Managed Email Security Services?

With an intuitive, multi-layered design, Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security is a solution that offers various layers of security that detect and block threats in real-time and build on each other to provide more effective protection. Designed to defend against sophisticated attacks like targeted spear-phishing, ransomware, and emerging zero-day attacks, EnGarde is engineered to protect your users and business against today's most advanced threats. Coupled with this protection is the level of support needed to deliver digital peace of mind for your business. 

Key features and functionalities of EnGarde include:

  • Phishing, spoofing, and impersonation protection
  • Malware and ransomware protection
  • Zero-day attack protection
  • Multi-layered design powered by open-source technology - the same technology that powers the Internet itself
  • Dynamic-link and file analysis
  • Heuristics-based spam and virus protection
  • SPF, DKIM, and DMARC checking
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Comprehensive management and support services

The Bottom Line

Now more than ever, businesses cannot afford a weak email security strategy. Implementing a comprehensive third-party email security system can help defend against advanced threats, such as targeted spear-phishing, ransomware, and emerging zero-day attacks. Additional email security defenses will help bolster inadequate built-in cloud email protection and fortify Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace against damaging, costly credential phishing attacks and account takeovers. By implementing the type of proactive, defense-in-depth email protection discussed in this article, businesses will experience improved security, enhanced productivity, and a rapid return on investment.

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