Great news! Amazon Prime Day has arrived and Amazon is offering a $150 bonus credit! The key is to use it before it expires, so click here and enter some basic information to claim your credit. Happy shopping!
Sounds familiar? How about this one:
Hi John. There is a problem with your Amazon Prime subscription. But you can fix it in a few minutes by updating your billing information. Click here to get started.
Hackers descend on Amazon Prime Day every year like a swarm of locusts, hoping to take advantage of eager shoppers and viewers. The above messages are just two examples of how they try to get your attention via email and then lead you to a fake site to enter sensitive credentials.
The prevalence of these types of scams has prompted Steve Bernas, the CEO and president of the Better Business Bureau for Northern Illinois and Chicago, to give the following warning: “It’s a really big day for the scammers. Retail experts say Prime Day generates more sales for Amazon than Black Friday. That is a great sales potential for the crooks.”
Bigger than Amazon
Only a few things are bigger than Amazon, and email scams can be one of them. The temptation of much and the fear of missing out are just two of the many ways hackers trick unsuspecting users into doing something they wouldn’t otherwise do.
Email-based attacks come in different forms—phishing, spearphishing, vishing, whaling, etc. — but with the right security software, combined with regular user awareness training, you can protect your organization from unrelenting predators.
Understanding the benefits of email security software
Adequately protecting your email account is a two-pronged approach:
- Proactive protection: The first includes the steps you take to make sure no one can hack into your account, such as using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication. This prevents a hacker from sending emails on your behalf or searching your inbox looking for sensitive information.
- Automated Protection: The other uses software that provides automated, multi-layered protection based on the latest threat intelligence to protect your organization from spam, malware, and other email-based security threats.
How email security software protects users
Email security software filters out communications from hackers trying to steal information. Admittedly, if you or your team members know how to spot fraudulent emails, you can steer clear of the threats yourself, but as attackers’ methods have become more sophisticated, it becomes more difficult to detect fake emails without the help of software .
Let’s use an example to illustrate.
Let’s say you receive two fraudulent emails, both pretending to come from a bank you use, Bank of America. Both say you need to click on a link to change your password because there has been a data breach that may have exposed your login credentials.
One of the emails has a few grammatical errors, the Bank of America font is not quite right, and the color scheme also seems a bit odd. You immediately notice that something is not right. You ignore the email and send it to your trash.
The other email is perfect. Everything is perfect from the grammar to the color scheme, from the fonts to the wording. There is also a legitimate Bank of America phone number at the bottom. The email looks legit in every way. You see no harm in clicking the link and you start moving the cursor to do so.
Email security software prevents you from being put in this position in the first place. Here’s how: both emails come from illegitimate URLs, and an email security solution can detect fake URLs and send them straight to your trash or spam folder, removing the temptation to click at all.
Since the software kept the email out of your primary inbox, you cannot unknowingly disclose sensitive information.
Key Features of Email Security Software
Email security software comes with powerful features that protect users from hackers. Among which:
Spam filters work by marking and deleting spam emails. They look for specific spam elements, such as:
- Email header information indicating that the email is from a malicious actor. The header information isn’t visible unless you choose to view it using a feature such as Gmail’s “Show Original” menu option. But an email security system automatically looks for that information to determine if the email came from a spammer
- Fake URLs, such as “yah00.com” with two zeros instead of “yahoo.com”
- Emails from known spammers, or emails that are on a blacklist that is constantly updated
- Spammy content, such as text about offers, deals, or language designed to pressure someone to click
Antivirus email protection is similar to regular antivirus software in that it scans the contents of the email for possible viruses, including viruses in attachments that are automatically installed on the user’s device when the attached file is opened. Antivirus programs can also detect malware hidden in images. Once malware is identified, the software automatically deletes the email.
Business Email Compromise (BEC) Protection
A BEC (Business Email Compromise) attack, also known as: cheater email or CEO fraud— involves a hacker who sends an email that appears to come from someone in your organization — someone you believe is authorized to request sensitive information. Typically, the attacker would impersonate an executive, manager, or anyone else authorized to receive sensitive data.
These types of attacks have attracted the attention of several branches of law enforcement, including the US authorities. For example, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) recently filed a lawsuit against a cybercriminal who allegedly stole $100 million using BEC. Even Facebook and Google have fallen victim to BEC and wire fraud.
BEC attacks use social engineering to take advantage of human vulnerabilities, and email security software protects against BEC threats by:
- Identify fake URLs
- Check the content of the email against a list of words or vocabulary commonly used by BEC attackers
- Prevent users from sending emails from high-level accounts with unauthorized devices
Content and Image Management
Email security software can detect malicious content and images using filtering systems that scan the content of each message. By blocking emails with dangerous content, email security software prevents recipients from clicking on anything that could be a threat.
Hackers can attempt to steal data by intercepting emails sent or received over unsecured connections. But because email security software encrypts data sent in emails, only the intended recipient can decrypt and read the message.
9 things to consider when choosing the right email security solution for your organization
Now that you know the value the right email security solution can provide, here are some things to consider when choosing a solution:
- Easy implementation: The solution should be easy and fast to deploy across your organization. Your provider may include deployment as part of their service package.
- Scalability and customization: Your email security system should support scaling up or down as needed, for example if you need to add temporary employees during a busy season. Customization is just as important because it allows you to customize settings for individual users, teams, or groups.
- Ability to prevent a wide range of threats: The more threats your system blocks, the better.
- Ability to keep pace with the changing threat landscape: Your email solution should get the latest threat intelligence, such as tactics, URLs, and IP addresses, from a trusted threat intelligence platform. This way it can block more attacks, even those that are relatively new.
- Protection across devices: Your solution needs to secure both handheld and desktop devices. Each user should be able to use as many devices as they need, and move seamlessly from one to another while using email.
- Low learning curve: Your email security should be easy to learn so that employees can use it right away.
- Strong return on investment: The solution of your choice should pay off, whether it be blocking a wide range of threats or saving employees time when dealing with spam.
- Compliance: Failure to comply with data security and management regulations incurs serious costs. Make sure your security solution complies with all applicable standards.
- Reliability and authority: A reliable solution often comes with a track record of success. By choosing a reliable provider, you also benefit from their commitment to continue to provide first-class products and services.
Secure your email environment
Whether it’s Amazon Prime time or just a day at the office, email security software can provide comprehensive protection against email-based attacks. Ensure that your solution is regularly updated so that it can pick up the latest threat information and keep you informed about compliance rules.