EMAIL SECURITY


TL;DR:

The blog emphasizes the importance of email in digital marketing and its increasing vulnerability to cyber attacks. Alarming statistics on threats like phishing, malware, and credential stuffing are highlighted. Tips for enhancing email security, including phishing simulations, email filters, and list cleaning, are provided. It also addresses the need for a security culture, with practical measures like cybersecurity training and secure gateway solutions.


Email security best practices, phishing

Marketing campaigns must emphasize email security. Among all digital marketing channels, email marketing has proven to be one of the most successful. According to recent surveys, 80% of marketers believe email provides the best Return on Investment (ROI) compared to other media. With over 4 billion daily email users expected by 2025, the number of digital buyers is set to soar, and its popularity shows no signs of diminishing.

But as email is increasingly used, hackers see it as an attractive attack vector. Almost one in three data breaches were related to email, according to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Prominent cyberattacks like SolarWinds, affecting over 18,000 companies, highlighted how compromised email accounts can provide extensive network penetration and espionage capabilities.

For marketers, a breach in email security gives hackers the opportunity to spread malware, deceive consumers with phishing scams, and use their name for illicit gains. For this reason, cleaning email lists is essential, among other things. These breaches can have various effects, such as short-term delivery issues, long-term reputation damage, legal ramifications, and decreased customer trust. Marketers can continue to harness the potential of email while protecting the interests of consumers and brands by prioritizing robust security protocols and secure email providers.

The growing complexity of email-based threats

Current cyber threats are increasingly significant and sophisticated. These details shed light on the growing threats to email security:

  • According to Google research, phishing attacks increased by 220% during the pandemic, demonstrating how security flaws worsen in crisis situations.
  • According to the FBI, since 2016, business email compromise schemes have cost companies $43 billion, with a dramatic increase in losses.
  • According to SonicWall, ransomware attacks increased by 105% between 2020 and 2021, with email as the primary infection vector.
  • More than one in five companies have experienced email account takeovers, allowing broader network intrusion, according to research by security company Barracuda Networks.
  • According to Agari research, 84% of companies believe they are susceptible to domain impersonation attacks, allowing fraudulent emails to impersonate a brand's identity.

These threat data underscore the urgent need for robust email security measures in the current high-risk landscape.

In-depth look at the main types of email threats

Email security best practices, email threat types

Here are some details about the most common security threats currently affecting email marketing:

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks use fraudulent emails that mimic trusted sources in an attempt to deceive users into disclosing login credentials or private information (deceptive digital practice). Information gathering techniques include the use of malicious attachments, links, or embedded forms. According to Cofense data, 91% of cyberattacks start with a phishing email. Through compromised accounts, phishers can carry out extensive and highly targeted attacks against their clientele.

Use a VPN to strengthen your defenses against phishing attempts. You might be wondering, "Should I use a VPN?" To enhance your security and make it more difficult for hackers to trace your online activity, a VPN can provide an additional layer of protection by encrypting your internet connection and hiding your IP address.

Malware Infections

Malware, such as ransomware, spyware, and viruses, often spreads through infected email attachments and links. Once inside your network, it can create backdoors for continuous access, corrupt files, and compromise databases. Malware often uses strategies like macro infections in Office documents to bypass standard email defenses. According to FBI estimates, ransomware attacks alone cost companies over $49 million annually.

Credential Stuffing

Credential stuffing is a tactic used to access accounts using stolen usernames and passwords. In 2021, Akamai recorded over 93 billion credential stuffing attacks, highlighting the rapid expansion of the problem. Account theft in social media, cloud services, and finance is possible through stolen email account credentials. Resulting damages can range from fraud to data theft.

Insecure Data Management

Inadequate protection of customer data can lead to breaches that violate privacy laws like GDPR or damage consumer trust. Less than 10% of organizations, according to surveys, currently fully comply with GDPR regulations. Errors such as inadvertently emailing unencrypted customer data to unauthorized parties are possible due to insecure data management.

Business Email Compromise

Inadequate protection of customer data can lead to breaches that violate privacy laws like GDPR or damage consumer trust. Less than 10% of organizations, according to surveys, currently fully comply with GDPR regulations. Errors such as inadvertently emailing unencrypted customer data to unauthorized parties are possible due to insecure data management.

Achieving the Best Email Security

Email security best practices, security

For your email environment to be completely secure, you must go beyond the basics:

  • Conduct external phishing attack simulations to find spear-phishing vulnerabilities and address them before hackers exploit them.
  • Establish secure email handling procedures to prevent phishing, authentication, data handling, and other areas by implementing employee security training.
  • Install email filters that analyze all outgoing messages for security flaws such as confidential information leakage, harmful content, or prohibited senders.
  • Conduct monthly compliance audits to ensure that consumer data handled through email marketing complies with privacy laws and regulations.
  • Periodically clean email lists by removing bounced addresses and providing an easy way to unsubscribe. This ensures current subscriber consent and improves delivery capability.
  • To minimize damage, create an incident response plan that prepares teams to quickly identify, assess, contain, and recover from an email-transmitted attack.

A Broader View of Email Security

Maintaining security requires a broad perspective. Develop a security culture:

  • Foster a workplace environment where employees see security as a shared responsibility. Continue their training and promote secure email handling practices. Encourage staff members to recognize and report potential dangers. In addition to technical defenses, strengthen human defenses.
  • Team Collaboration - Promote collaboration between divisions such as marketing, IT, HR, PR, and cybersecurity to eliminate silos. Integrate email security information across all groups to increase visibility. Coordinate actions to safeguard the overall security posture of the organization.
  • Emphasize Customer Trust: As a central component of your customer value proposition, security and privacy should be prioritized. Inform subscribers about potential risks and offer advice on how to handle emails securely. Being open and honest about your security policies and privacy procedures fosters subscriber trust and safeguards your company's reputation.
  • Develop a Constant Vigilance Attitude: Consider security as an ongoing practice rather than a one-time solution. Look for new threats in threat intelligence. Use testing and audits to continuously verify that controls are working as intended. Stay flexible to introduce new defenses as the threat landscape changes.
  • Protect the Human Attack Surface: When it comes to security, people are often the weakest link. Prioritize security awareness and the development of skills to safeguard accounts, avoid scams, report incidents, and perform related tasks. Foster an environment where workers take ownership of security.

Practical Tips to Enhance Email Security

The following concrete measures can be taken to strengthen protections:

  • Make cybersecurity and phishing prevention training mandatory for all staff members to raise awareness of the security issues posed by email handling. Require annual training updates.
  • Create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for security to track metrics such as phishing email click rates, spam reports, failed authentication attempts, etc. Augment defenses with insights.
  • Install a secure email gateway solution with AI-based antispam, antiphishing, and antimalware features.
  • To proactively find vulnerabilities before criminals do, conduct email penetration testing. Close any security gaps.
  • Use threat intelligence to stay informed about malware campaigns, new adversary Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs), emerging threats, and high-risk indicators.
  • Implement privileged access management policies that offer greater oversight and auditing of access to email accounts at the administrator level.
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