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Businesses of all sizes are at risk of cyber-attacks through email. How to protect email from cyber-attacks? 

In this blog, we’ll talk about how to protect your email from potential attacks. 

How do hackers gain access to your email? What types of attacks can originate from your email, and what can you do to protect it?

Most hackers gain access to your email by sending two types of emails. The first type contains attachments. When the receiver opens the attachment, it may run some macro on a Word document. 

Once the user reaches that stage, the computer will be infected with malware.

There are two types of email scams that you should be aware of. The first type is the email containing a phishing link that takes you to a fake login page. The link may be disguised as a paid or outstanding invoice or virtual fax, but when you click on it, it will take you to a website similar to a legitimate service, such as an Office 365 email login. However, this is not a real service, and you may give away your sensitive information to scammers.

It is important to be aware that cybercriminals can steal your username and password, which can cause serious damage. For example, attackers may use attachments with malware to access your computer and establish a foothold on the network. They may target regular users in the organization who do not have many privileges. Still, once on the network, they can exploit additional tools or vulnerabilities to move throughout the network. It is crucial to be vigilant about suspicious activities and to take necessary precautions to protect your personal information and sensitive data.

Later, cybercriminals attempt to escalate their privileges to gain access to a domain administrator’s account by learning as much as possible about the network.

When hackers compromise an email account, they may have two reasons for doing so. One reason is to obtain the actual username and password of the email account owner. Once they gain access to the email account, they typically search for specific keywords such as wire payment, receivables, and other financial terms. They are interested in anything financial-related that may help them make money.

Unauthorized individuals can gain access to a standard user account and not find the information they were looking for. However, they may still try to obtain other valuable information. For instance, they might be cc’d on an email that contains important financial details. Even though they may not have the authority to make payments, this information can be valuable to them. They could use it to craft an attack targeted specifically towards the data they have, or at the very least; they could use it to identify the right person to target within the organization.

What are potential attacks originating through your email? 

Two examples of cyber attacks are becoming more common these days. The first one is called “business email compromise”. This happens when someone gains unauthorized access to an organization’s email system, either by hacking a single user’s email or by other means. Once they have access, they can see all incoming and outgoing emails. They can use this information to their advantage by impersonating a vendor and requesting payment for a fake invoice that appears to be real. The second example of a cyber attack is ransomware, malicious software that can encrypt your files and demand payment to unlock them. 

We’ve seen cases where employees request HR to update their direct deposit information for their paychecks. Unfortunately, attackers have many clever ways to exploit the information they obtain about your business once they access someone’s email account.

Ransomware is a cyber attack that can start with an innocent-looking email but quickly escalate into a nightmare scenario. In a ransomware attack, the attackers encrypt all your data and then demand a ransom payment to decrypt it. This effectively renders your data useless and can bring your entire business to a halt. The attackers then hold your data hostage until you pay the demanded ransom, which can be a significant amount of money. As a result, taking precautions to prevent ransomware attacks and protect your data from being compromised is crucial.

So, how to protect email from cyber-attacks?

These three effective ways will answer your question on how to protect email from cyber-attacks.

An example of a security measure is multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Another option is Defender ATP, which stands for Advanced Threat Protection.

The third essential component is security awareness training, which includes multi-factor authentication (MFA).

If a user accidentally enters their login credentials on a fake website, the hacker cannot gain access to their email account. This is because when users log in from their computer, they are prompted to enter an additional code or click “approve” in their multi-factor authentication app. This means that the user must physically verify the login attempt by approving it on their phone to grant access. If the user did not initiate the login attempt and saw the prompt, they would not hit “approve” and deny the hacker access to their account.

Implementing multi-factor authentication can effectively prevent over 90% of email-related attacks, provided that all email accounts in the organization are secured using this technology. This measure can significantly decrease the number of successful attacks against your email. Therefore, it is crucial to consider multi-factor authentication as the most important aspect of your email security strategy.

The second example is Defender ATP, a service within Office 365 email that offers advanced threat protection.

One of the security features offered by Microsoft is called Safe Links. Safe Links replaces email links with a redirect that takes you to Microsoft Safe Links. Once you reach the site, it verifies whether the link’s final destination is safe or malicious. You’ll be directed to the page without issues if it’s safe. But, if it’s malicious, Safe Links will block it and display a warning message. Additionally, it can create a case for your administrator to investigate. This way, you can be sure that even if a bad link was sent to your user and they clicked on it, we will have blocked it and prevented any harm. 

Another example they have is Safe Attachments, which works similarly to Safe Links. It can remove an attachment if it is determined to be malicious, based on how you set up Defender ATP. You can deliver the attachment immediately to avoid slowing down your users or delay it until it has been scanned and verified as safe. Safe Links protects against phishing attacks where users unknowingly enter their credentials into fake websites. At the same time, Safe Attachments are important in safeguarding against files containing bad macros or viruses.

The third crucial step in ensuring security is conducting security awareness training. In most cases, the human element is the weakest link attackers target. They can create convincing emails that appear genuine and important, using various techniques to make them look legitimate. Therefore, the best approach is to protect the human element by educating them about the potential threats and what to look out for. Doing so can minimize the chances of these attacks being successful.

It is impossible to rely on a single solution to protect your organization from all threats. You need to implement multiple layers and approaches to achieve the best protection.

To summarize, how to protect email from cyber-attacks? 

Hackers can access your email in two ways: by sending malicious attachments or stealing your login credentials. The most common types of email attacks are business email compromise and ransomware. However, there are three effective ways to protect your email: 

1. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security to your account.

2. Implement Defender ATP (Advanced Threat Protection) to detect and block malicious emails before they reach your inbox.

3. Undergo security awareness training to identify and avoid email phishing scams.

Implementing these precautions can significantly reduce the risk of cybercriminals compromising your email.

Contact us to discuss your email setup and learn how we can assist you.


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