Email filtering is the process of analyzing emails to identify red flags such as phishing content, attachments containing viruses, worms, or other malware and blocking or quarantining those that are considered illegitimate and some even dangerous. Genuine emails are then delivered to user inboxes.
Most major third-party email providers have email filtering built into their solutions. However, some are not as effective on their own, and often require investment in a third-party email filtering service. The most common is Microsoft Office 365. Many businesses using this service have been forced to invest in additional security for adequate protection against advanced email threats such as phishing, spear-phishing, Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks and email spoofing.
Inadequate email filtering can result in several risks, including but not limited to:
Financial losses as in the case of ransomware and spear-phishing, whaling or CEO impersonation attacks.
Denial-of-service, DDoS attacks when too much spam is delivered on mail servers.
Slowing down of networks and reduced mail server performance resulting from too much spam coming into the internal network.
Loss of staff productivity as staff spend time sifting through many spam and junk emails to identify legitimate emails.
If you're a business, email filtering is crucial to boost employee productivity, minimize fraud risk and provide better overall protection for your network. Email filtering will block malicious software, links, and emails from ever getting to your user mailboxes and hence, reduce chances of infection or reduce the likelihood that an employee will inadvertently become the victim of an impersonation or social engineering attack.
Email filters usually analyze messages for red flags that signal unwanted messages, malware, viruses, worms, spyware or phishing content. Such red flags may include:
Emails containing words like “Free” and “Earn money”.
If the sender sends you an email using your email address instead of your actual name, that could trigger your spam filter, seeing as the sender won't be on your contacts list.
Senders trying to send you content such as newsletters that you haven't opted into may be flagged as spam.
Sender’s IP address is blacklisted or was previously blacklisted.
Large fonts and large images are common triggers for email spam.
In addition, phishing email monitor triggers include:
A link or attachment containing malware.
Email messages from unknown senders that have attachments.
Phishing emails tend to be quarantined by most email filtering software. This means they are put on hold in a separate holding location, usually accessible via an administrator portal. They can then be released if deemed legitimate by the business administrators in the case of missing emails. However, most email security providers who offer such services will typically delete quarantine messages after a specified number of days.
While investing in email filtering solutions can protect you from phishing, ransomware and other social engineering attacks, email filters are not 100% full-proof. Sometimes, a few sophisticated spam emails may make their way through to users’ inboxes.
It is, therefore, important to learn how to recognize the signs of an email scam to avoid becoming a victim of cyberattacks.
First, it is important to know the difference between a phishing email and a basic spam email. A spam email is usually unwanted, possibly annoying, but typically harmless. It may be a sales pitch, newsletter or other such email trying to entice you to purchase something or making you aware of something - say an event or institution, etc.
On the other hand, phishing emails are designed to deceive the recipient into providing confidential information such as usernames/passwords, bank account details, credit card numbers, social security numbers, identity card numbers, and so on. Information that can later be used by the attacker to perpetuate other fraudulent activities, including stealing money or demanding ransom. Here are a few tell-tale signs of phishing emails.
Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
Sense of urgency. It is important you do ABC immediately or within 24 hours before the offer runs out.
Fake email address that is not a business domain such as @yahoo.com or @gmail.com claiming to be from an organization.
Fake website links contained within the email. Usually, if you hover over the link, you will be able to see the actual site it will direct you to on the bottom left-hand corner of your screen.
Clickable link or downloadable file in the email, e.g., to claim your reward, Click here.
Scare tactics - if you don’t do ABC, we will do XYZ . Threats may include disclosing your personal or business information to the public.
Fake information such as a phony name and job title. Often, especially for large organizations, this information is verifiable using a simple Google Search.
While not all emails with these characteristics will be phishing emails, any of these signs should be cause for you to become alert. In a business environment, all it takes is for one staff member to fall for a phishing attempt for your entire network to be compromised. It is therefore important that businesses frequently ensure their users are educated about cybersecurity threats and best practices. Common cybersecurity training topics would include recognizing the different types of phishing scams, how to avoid having your email account hacked, how to avoid common cyber threats, etc. Read more here.
Comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training sessions will include real live phishing tests, i.e., fake phishing emails will be sent to persons within the organization to see whether they can apply their gained knowledge to avoid becoming victims of phishing attacks. Contact us should you require such training for your users.
Equipping users and staff on cybersecurity risks and their role in preventing organizational breaches builds a culture of personal accountability within an organization.
MailSafi Email Security not only protects your network from known risks and advanced email-borne threats, but also applies the same security checks and tests to your outgoing email. Scanning your outgoing emails protects your organization from being blacklisted on the internet. MailSafi Email Security is cost-effective and gives you more than your standard anti-spam solution, and covers a range of advanced email threats. Learn more about this best-of-class email filtering service. Sign up today or schedule a demo with us to learn how our service can improve your organization’s email security.
MailSafi Email Security allows you to:
Apply security policies centrally at the mailbox, group or organization level for broad and fine-grained control.
Eliminate 99.9% of spam coming into your organization.
Have higher spam detection rates by using multiple antivirus and antimalware detection engines, as well as our own expert rules.
Have protection against email spoofing and zero-day attacks.
Improve your staff productivity by reducing the amount of spam coming into your organization
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