Email security is a complex concept. It goes way beyond having a username and password to keep the email secure. In fact, it does not even cover the basic criteria for email security. People still fall prey to phishing attacks and enterprises fighting a complicated battle with the phishers and losing more often than not.
Keeping the employees and enterprises safe by detecting and blocking the various types of phishing attacks by installing and integrating antivirus, anti phishing software is known as email security. In an enterprise, the responsibility of keeping the email system secure falls on the IT department.
Having the firewalls in place, using spam filters, malware filters, etc., will add layers of security to the email systems. Some of the email systems such as Office 365 have security layers as a part of their email system. But to what extent are these filters detecting the phishing attacks is highly debatable.
The increase in phishing attacks in the last two years is a sign that despite the advancement in technology, enterprises are not able to block phishing attacks. Many top organizations have been duped by phishers for millions of dollars. The fact that it took enterprises quite some time (months) before they could detect the fraud explains the extent to which the email security systems are ineffective.
It is important to install anti phishing software that uses advanced artificial intelligence technologies to identify phishing emails and alert the employees. Educating employees about the types of phishing attacks will help when it is combined with the warning banner that popup with the fraudulent emails. An informed employee will always be careful when handling emails that are suspicious.
Before we focus on Spear Phishing Prevention, let us take a look at the types of phishing attacks that can potentially harm an enterprise and destroy its reputation. Most of the phishing attacks follow the same modus operandi.
The attackers impersonate a well-known entity in an enterprise and send emails to other employees asking for information, issuing orders to download files, sharing links to malicious websites, and for payments on invoices. When an employee performs any of the operations thinking that the email is genuine, he/ she provides the phishers access to the system of the enterprise. The phishers either take control of the entire system and demand money, or they continue to dupe the enterprises by taking regular payments by posing as genuine vendors or suppliers.
- Whaling Attacks
- CEO Fraud
- Zero Day Attacks
- Business Email Compromise
- Brand Forgery
- Domain Spoofing
- Malware and Ransomware
- Spear Phishing
Every email user is vulnerable to spear phishing attacks. When an attacker impersonates a trusted person like a boss, the CEO, a vendor, or a colleague to send or share confidential information, it is known as spear phishing.
Enterprises will need to opt for the latest, next-generation anti phishing software to effectively counter spear phishing. Software that alerts the employees when a suspicious email arrives in their email box and tells them exactly why the email is fraudulent will a must. Warnings such as ‘looks suspicious’, ‘external source’, ‘brand impersonation’, ‘fake address’, etc. can help employees understand phishing attacks.
Enterprises will need an anti phishing software that does not rely on examining URLs alone to decide if the email is suspicious. Hundreds of fake URLs and sender addresses are being created each day by the attackers. The existing database of the URLs does not include all the fake links. Moreover, it takes around 48-72 hours to identify the signature of a new URL to determine if it is genuine or fake. And, employees get duped by the phishing emails in less than a minute.
Spear Phishing Prevention requires the use of computer vision to detect the logos in the email and determine if they are the original ones. Identifying the source of the email will enable the software to determine that an email is fraudulent. Using machine learning technology, the anti phishing software develops behavior profiles and social graphs of various brands and the employees of the enterprise. When an email does not fit the existing pattern, the user is warned about the same.
Keep the email systems secure would mean that the anti phishing software should work with any of the email systems and the existing antivirus spam filters. The software should also act as an invisible filter and detect the phishing attacks before they reach the employees’ mailboxes. Working on computers and mobile devices with the same efficiency is an added advantage.
The latest anti phishing software allows employees to report and block phishing emails with a single click on the popup banner. The software works round the clock irrespective of the location of the employee.