Stacking Up Your Email Security Strategy


Thought Leadership

Stacking Up Your Email Security Strategy

Dena Bauckman

Malware is often a critical component of most cyberattacks known as "advanced persistent threats." They're advanced because they rely on sophisticated techniques and highly-developed criminal ecosystems, and they're persistent because they identify and relentlessly exploit every possible vulnerability. By combining layers of protection, organizations can achieve the highest levels of security and protect against advanced persistent threats.

The Hidden Gaps in Every Cybersecurity Strategy

The reason so many cybersecurity strategies fall short is not because decision makers are underestimating the threat, but rather it's because the threats are so sophisticated and constantly changing.

For example, having an email threat protection solution that only filters out emails from addresses that are known to be suspicious deflects a lot of threats from your inbox. But it only deflects the known threats. Unfortunately, the cybercriminals who've invested heavily in discovering vulnerabilities, developing exploits, and planning attack strategies don't rely on known tricks.

The most dedicated hackers adapt their strategies and invest in established domains that filters don't red flag. Moreover, they'll move to set up sophisticated spear- phishing schemes that can deceive even the most astute observers.

Building Up Multiple Layers of Protection

Relying on one layer of protection is like trying to block traffic by putting a single cone in the middle of the highway –— hackers can easily get around it. Given the myriad ways to bypass a single layer of defense, infection is almost inevitable. Basing a protection strategy around a single type of threat leaves you vulnerable to the dozens of others that are currently out there.

While no security can provide 100 percent guaranteed protection, a multi-layered cybersecurity strategy can safeguard organizations against the most sophisticated threats. Using the right combination and configuration of solutions, organizations can effectively layer their approaches and bolster their cybersecurity strategies.

Protecting against advanced persistent threats should begin with the most common threat vector used by hackers to start an attack – email. Even within this single threat vector, multiple layers of defense are required to ensure the ever-changing attack strategies are prevented.
  • Block Suspicious IPs and URLs. Think of this as the front line of cybersecurity. By blocking emails from IP addresses that are known to be suspicious, you deflect the vast majority of threats. This will only protect your organization against the most obvious threats, but by getting those out of the way, you're able to focus your efforts on threats that have the worst consequences.
  • Look for Contextual Clues. At this level of protection, you're dealing with the most recent, advanced, and illusive threats on the horizon. From a technical standpoint, this means looking at every aspect of an email -— the wording, call to action, header data, and metadata. Sophisticated email threats are hard to spot, especially when you're dealing with something like business email compromise, where hackers send an email from an internal address or from an address that looks like it is internal. Even so, the good news is that there are clues in the email that can be identified and acted on. Being able to identify clues based on different types of attacks allows you to effectively target and filter them out.
  • Analyze Suspicious Attachments and Links. This layer of protection is critical to preventing malware from getting into your systems. Attackers know how to get users to click, so your security must include the ability to inspect every attachment and link — not only when it first comes in but also at the time the users clicks. Sandboxing and URL re-writing for time-of-click analyses allows inspection and prevention of the malicious malware typically associated with advanced persistent threats.

Cybercrime is more lucrative than ever. Hackers have a powerful incentive and tools to build more sophisticated attacks, which means that any single, static solution is likely to fail. That's exactly why we recommend organizations start their cybersecurity defense by implementing a multi-layered email threat protection solution to fortify themselves against advanced persistent threats.