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How to protect against the most advanced email-based attacks

- May 26, 2017 - 2 Comments

With over 100 billion corporate emails exchanged each day, it’s no wonder that email remains a major threat vector. Organizations around the globe depend on email to quickly communicate and collaborate. And as long as organizations use email to send and receive files, communicate and interact, malicious files, links and attachments will continue to plague corporate inboxes.

Protecting the enterprise against email attacks is no easy task. No longer do we have the 9-5 mentality where we come into the office and connect via hardwire to the network. Work is no longer somewhere you go, it’s now something you do. We want to be able to connect and send emails on any device, at any time of the day from anywhere. And this makes security very difficult. Simply put: organizations today face an ever-increasing number of email-based threats focused on getting employees to click on links or open attachments and download malware.

So, given today’s security challenges, what is the safest and smartest approach to email security? You need a comprehensive and intelligent defense model that provides multi-layer protection across the security attack continuum: before, during and after an attack:

  1. Advanced detection and prevention

With hackers constantly on the lookout for ways to infiltrate your system, reliance on traditional defenses such as antivirus and other signature-based technologies is no longer sufficient. Threats change quickly and hackers can adapt and change malware at the drop of the hat. As such, email content and attachments must be analyzed using real-time threat intelligence to analyze anomalies, uncover new threats and monitor traffic trends.

  1. Multi-layer Defense

Dealing with today’s modern email threats means having a multi-layered email security defense allows each layer to act as a safety net- filtering out additional threats to keep your network safe. Combining tools such as reputation based filtering, anti-spam engines, AV scanning, and sandboxing capabilities ensures that your organization will catch as many threats as possible up front as possible.

  1. Ongoing, network wide visibility

Visibility is critical to protecting your network. But if you don’t know what’s on your network how can you be expected protect it?

Scanning and inspecting emails at the point they cross your email gateway is important, but does that give you full visibility? Not even close. What happens if a file is deemed malicious after it crosses the gateway? Would you even know the disposition changed? To get full visibility into your network, files need to be continuously inspected and analyzed, regardless of their initial disposition. This allows you to see changes in behaviors and patterns inside your network and be alerted if malicious behavior is spotted down the line. This guarantees that even sophisticated malware that manages to evade your front-line defenses can be caught before it does damage.

  1. Investigation and response

Eventually you will be compromised and something will get in. When a malicious or unknown file is spotted, it should be sent to a sandboxing solution to be thoroughly analyzed to identify malicious behavior and activity. This analysis helps you understand what the malware is doing, or attempting to do in your network, and how big of a threat is poses so your security team can prioritize and block sophisticated threats.

  1. Integrated Protection

It is important for your email security solution to easily integrate into your larger security strategy to thwart coordinated attacks and eliminate silos created by the inability to share critical threat intelligence. Disparate systems that don’t integrate and share information, leave blind spots that limit visibility into your network, and create gaps of time and space where cybercriminals can launch attacks.

Every day cyber criminals send malicious emails targeting your organization in an attempt to steal financial information, credentials, data and other confidential information. According to Verizon, for 95 percent of breaches, email is the primary means of communication to the target. Cisco’s own Annual Cybersecurity Report found that global spam volume is growing, with spam accounting for nearly two thirds of total email volume, and earlier this month the FBI issued a new report that business email compromise (BEC) losses have reached more than $5 billion worldwide. Now, more than ever organizations need to be certain that their email security solution will truly protect their users, data and assets. Today’s enterprises need a multi-layer email security defense that provides advanced protection to not only block and detect email-based attacks, but also deliver visibility and control to find and remediate malware once it has entered your network.

To learn more about how Cisco AMP for Email can protect your organization watch the below video or visit: www.cisco.com/go/ampforemail

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2 Comments

    Great post Lindsay. EMail is the most vulnerable threat vector and this goes a long way towards helping users make better choices.

    Great tips to be sent out to our partners, thank you!

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