Threats from the email channel are growing at a staggering rate, putting businesses around the world at risk. Research suggests that email is the number one attack vector against organizations, an issue exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic which saw many employees turn into remote workers almost overnight. Because of this employees are relying on email channels to communicate and send vital documents more than ever before.
With this reliance on email communications, businesses must ensure that they are protected from the growing major email threats. Attacks from malicious attachments, email compromise, ransomware and phishing can cause major disruption and financial loss to organizations. Research from top email security vendor Mimecast has revealed that 85% of businesses expect to see an increase in threats over the next year.
Protecting against these threats can be a significant business challenge. There are a large number of different security solutions that purport to solve email security challenges, using a variety of different methods. The most well-known is the traditional email gateway, which sits in front of your inbox and filters incoming messages. But in the age of the cloud and new ways of communication, a whole host of other email security services have emerged to solve email threats.
The simple truth is there is no silver bullet that will totally eliminate all threats against your email network. Instead, businesses must evaluate their needs and take a multi-layered approach to protecting their business and data from email threats. In this article, we’ll cover what a multi-layered approach to email security looks like, why it is so crucial, and run down what different kinds of security organizations should be considering.
Perfect Email Protection Is Not Possible
When it comes to email, “perfect protection is not possible.” This is one of the conclusions made by research firm Gartner, in its 2019 Market Guide for Email Security. This is of course true for almost all technology, but especially so in the email space.
Email has always been notoriously unsecure. As a communication platform first and foremost, there has always been the potentially for email scams and the spreading of malware. Today, email attacks are more sophisticated than ever before. With impersonation attacks, sophisticated ransomware, and account compromise becoming widespread challenges to businesses all over the world.
The growing sophistication of these threats and the multitude of different ways of attacks spreading through the email channel, has led Gartner to recommend businesses implementing a ‘CARTA strategic approach to email security.”
What is CARTA? The Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust Assessment is a popular strategic approach to cybersecurity that means taking a continuous assessments and contextual decision making based on evaluations of risk and trust. In a nutshell, CARTA means continuously evaluating your cybersecurity technologies and not relying on just one technology indefinitely for success. The term was first introduced by Gartner in 2010.
What is CARTA?
The Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust Assessment is a popular strategic approach to cybersecurity that means taking a continuous assessments and contextual decision making based on evaluations of risk and trust. In a nutshell, CARTA means continuously evaluating your cybersecurity technologies and not relying on just one technology indefinitely for success. The term was first introduced by Gartner in 2010.
When it comes to email, Gartner recommends implementing a CARTA approach by “layering inbound, outbound and internal detection and remediation capabilities.” They also recommend addressing gaps in email security solutions with additional cloud-based solutions, and implementing user awareness training for further protection.
Taking one approach on its own may solve some email problems, but only by taking a multi-layered email approach can businesses ensure that have effective email security in place against sophisticated modern email threats.
How To Implement Multi-Layered Email Security
There are four main technologies that Garter identifies as being crucial to a strong multi-layered email security strategy. Using a combination of these solutions while focussing on the specific needs and challenges facing your organization will help to ensure your business has a strong email security strategy in place.
Secure Email Gateways
Secure email gateways (SEGs) are the front line of defense for email security, and so should form the core of any email security strategy. The email gateway works by sitting in front of the email inbox and filtering malicious emails from entering the inbox. Typical features of SEGs include email filtering, attachment and URL sandboxing, content inspection and email management. Many gateways may also include other benefits like email archiving and encryption. These services are typically deployed into the email network, requiring MX record changes.
You can view our full guide to the top 11 secure email gateways here: https://www.expertinsights.com/insights/top-11-email-security-gateways/
Postdelivery protection platforms have grown in popularity due to the rise in sophisticated, targeted email attacks like spear-phishing and account compromise. Postdelivery protection solutions work inside the email inbox, and are typically deployed into cloud email networks like Office 365 and Gsuite via API. The benefit of this is that deployment is far easier, and the solutions are able to scan all internal emails, using powerful machine learning systems to detect targeted threats like phishing and account compromise. Many postdelivery protection solutions allow users to report suspicious emails, and giving admins the control to remediate malicious emails even after delivery, something not possible with traditional gateways.
You can read our guide to the top postdelivery protection platforms here: https://www.expertinsights.com/insights/the-top-post-delivery-protection-platforms/
Email Data Protection (Outbound Email Security)
Email data protection solutions, or outbound email security solutions, are a range of services that aim to protect data as it leaves an organization. Traditionally outbound email security takes the form of email encryption and DLP capabilities that aim to stop sensitive data being leaked or accessed by the wrong people.
Outbound email security can also be achieved with new machine learning technologies that can intelligently identify a potential data breach and protect against it. These solutions work by learning email communications and using identifiers to intelligently build identify when someone has for example selected the wrong contract or attached the wrong document. This is very important for industries that handle sensitive customer data, like financial and legal services and healthcare.
You can read our guide to the top email encryption platforms here:
You can read our guide to the top solutions to prevent misaddressed email sending here: https://www.expertinsights.com/insights/the-top-outbound-email-security-solutions/
Security Awareness Training
User training around email security issues is the final layer to help protect organizations and secure legal compliance. Email security awareness training provides training materials to help users learn better security behaviours, including what malicious emails look like and how to avoid falling for phishing attacks.
Many security awareness training solutions also provide simulated phishing campaigns, to help condition users to be able to spot and report suspicious emails. These campaigns are customizable and should give admins valuable data as to who within the organization is at risk of falling for phishing attacks.
You can read our guide to the top security awareness training providers here:https://www.expertinsights.com/insights/the-top-security-awareness-training-platforms-for-businesses/
Benefits Of Multi-Layered Email Security
By combining two or more of these different security layers, organizations can achieve more in-depth email security and secure themselves against targeted threats. Secure email gateways are vital to stopping the bulk of malicious email threats. However, sophisticated attacks that use social engineering are often do not contain malware, and so will not be stopped by email gateways.
Postdelivery protection and user awareness training help to minimize this risk, by giving admins the tools they need to automatically remediate against social engineering and account compromise and training users to be more security conscious. Outbound email security helps to protect emails leaving the email network, ensuring that confidential information remains secure.
Multi-layered email security means organizations are protected from a range of attacks from spam to sophisticated and highly targeted social engineering attacks. It also means that you as an IT admin or security officer have a much deeper visibility into email attacks, with more insights into where attacks are coming from and how they can be mitigated.
Not all organizations will require all of these technologies, but there are significant benefits to using multiple technologies for well rounded email protection. There are multiple email security providers that will offer two or more of these solutions, sometimes as a single purchase, which can help organizations to implement multi-layered email security without adding significantly more cost or administration.
The growth of sophisticated and targeted email threats mean that one layer of email security alone will not be enough to protect organizations. Organizations need to take a CARTA approach to email security by layering inbound, internal, outbound and user awareness training for strong email protection.
This may seem a challenge, but there are a number of email security solutions and vendors that provide multi-layered email security as one platform, with a single plane of glass admin console that allows easy management and visibility into threats.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the top solutions, we’ve put together guides to the top email security, postdelivery protection, outbound email security and security awareness training solutions to help you make the right choice for your organization.