What is Email Security?

How to Secure Your Emails Against BEC and Phishing Attempts

Did you know that the United States was the top country for an average total cost of a data breach for the eleventh year in a row?

An IBM security analysis pegs the average total cost of data breaches due to business email compromise as the highest at $5.01 million, followed by phishing ($4.65 million), malicious insiders ($4.61 million), social engineering ($4.47 million), and compromised credentials ($4.37 million). Additionally, it took an average of 212 days to identify a breach in 2021 and an average of 75 days to contain it!

This brings us to the question.

How Secure is Email?

We give you a hint: not secure enough. The above stats show the alarming rate of losses in revenue and reputation to organizations due to data breaches. So, the question you must ask is how secure is your email? Email remains the primary and most critical and convenient means of communication. But it also acts as a major vulnerability for organizations and users.

Hackers often use deceptive messages to entice recipients to share sensitive information, open attachments, or click on hyperlinks with malware installed to gain a backdoor into an enterprise network and obtain valuable company data.

Often, email is the primary source of all ransomware, malware, phishing attacks, and email threats. Let us understand what those are.

Types of Email Attacks

Hackers these days are using various sophisticated techniques than traditional phishing emails or the “Nigerian prince” emails of yesteryears to get to your data. We discuss a few common ones here.

  • Business Email Compromise (BEC): These are mostly impostor emails that require deeper knowledge of people’s roles and messaging patterns within a target organization. Let us take the example of a law firm. Hackers can send an email purporting to have been sent from the litigation law partner to the law firm’s client, using information commonly found in litigation filings, requesting the client to add funds for additional expert costs. When the client responds to the email, hackers forward the email to a lookalike domain, pose as the law partner, and reply with details and wire instructions; as well as an expression of urgency and importance to the case. The client forwards the email containing the wire instructions to their accounting department with a note to urgently fund the litigation expense. When the funds are diverted to offshore accounts, the scam is complete!
  • Phishing: The second vector attack on IBM’s list, phishing, is a form of fraud, where cybercriminals either buy passwords from the dark web or use email, instant messaging, and other social media to gather information such as login credentials by masquerading. They then use this information to send a fraudulent email to the victim’s known associates with the intention to trick the recipient into installing malware on their device or into sharing personal or financial information. And then there is spear phishing. Think of it as a highly targeted phishing attack, where attackers send customized emails to a specific person by researching the target’s interests before sending the email.
  • Whaling: It is similar to a phishing attack – only in this case, the targets are high-profile like senior leadership in an organization, film stars, sportspersons, and even ministers in a government.
  • Spam: This is a mostly unsolicited email that sits in the junk mail and is often sent as an advertisement for products or services with an end goal to obtain sensitive information, such as a social security number or bank accounts via clicks. The devices or networks infected by a virus or worm are used to send out as much bulk email as possible to infect the recipient devices.

This underscores the importance of email security for businesses and adoption of the best practices to protect your critical data.

Email Security Best Practices You Should Adopt

With security a top concern, it’s a good idea to proactively adopt some best practices.

  • Train your employees/users on spotting and identifying phishing, BEC, and other threat vectors like social engineering, which involves sophisticated, personalized tactics to elicit more information.
  • Create effective spam filters via whitelisting tactics on accounts that only should receive internal communications or installing an email antivirus on computers used by individuals who send or receive external emails.
  • Implement multi-factor authentication to improve your email security and have your developers continuously analyze threats and update patches.
  • Make it a practice to encrypt your emails.

Sometimes, even after following these and other email security best practices or setting up email policies, your business could fall victim to data breaches. RMail, a global email security solution from RPost, can help you ward off all these threats with its advanced capabilities. Let us deep dive.

How RMail Protects Against Serious Email Attacks and Threats

The level of sophistication seen in imposter emails is unmatched today, reflecting a deeper understanding of people’s roles and messaging patterns within a target organization. RMail offers several advanced email security functionalities that helps businesses protect against a majority of email attack vectors.

Domain Age Detector

Picture a scenario. Impostors buy passwords from the dark web, hack into the servers, and keep tabs on activities related to high-value transactions or sensitive financial information. They then buy a domain that is very similar to the one that your staff communicates with and send an email to your team with one letter off or flipped off in the domain (e.g., valleyinsurance.com vs. valleyinsrance.com). This tricks the eye and mind because humans tend not to “read” every letter in a word. Your team thinking the email came from a familiar email address responds and there goes your company’s bank routing numbers or any other highly sensitive financial data.

One of the ways RMail prevents such mis-direction of emails is through its advanced “Domain Age Detector” feature, which displays warnings to the sender when they are about to send an email. The recipient “domain age” analysis brings AI into the email-send-flow in real-time. Based on age of the domain, along with other domain metrics, the sender is nudged to pause and re-verify addresses. Relatively new domains are highlighted in yellow or red, as they are more likely to be clever misspells of real addresses and potential threats to email security. You can customize notes and age rules to get alerts on the age of a particular domain.

Email Security Domain Age Detector
Email Security RMail Recommends in Context

RMail Recommends

People forget. Has it ever happened to you that, after sending an email, you regretted not encrypting it as it contained sensitive information or you have completely forgotten to encrypt? This has happened to 35% of the people in the legal sector and almost 70% in the insurance industry. RMail’s advanced “RMail Recommends” feature provides AI-infused and rule-based, in-the-moment e-security and email security training that automatically sensitizes users to treat certain messages differently.

Basically, it reminds you to encrypt your emails when you press the “send” button. So, if you are sending an email that contains a string of characters that look like a SSN or a credit card, for example, RMail will prompt you to suggest or even mandate (depending on your configuration) that you encrypt the email. You can customize the rules. RMail’s AI engine also learns from user behavior and adapts over time.

Right Recipient

Have you ever mis-addressed an important email to a wrong person? Most of us have at some time, where we go exclaiming later, “That address sure looked the same!” Such human errors are the number one reason for data breaches and loss of reputation arising out of it. It can be a common mistake or part of a larger cyberattack, where an impostor traps you by creating an email account that looks and reads almost exactly the same as someone in your company. RMail understands the “security of sentiment.”

RMail’s AI engine anticipates email impostor trickery in-the-moment of email interaction. What it does is allow you to pause and prevent such trickery through prompts. If RMail’s AI engine determines that you are about to misaddress a sensitive email, it prompts you to double check the recipient addresses. It also alerts the sender if the recipient domain is likely to be a clever misspell of an authentic recipient domain, considering domain age and other variables (the domain age detector discussed above). This helps ward off those snarky whaling attempts.

In fact, both domain age detector and Right Recipient look at users’ historical message patterns, content, and internet connected intelligence to provide the appropriate (non-intrusive) alerts. The analysis is instant. Once re-verified, you can snooze the alerts for that recipient. You can also tune the frequency and trigger these alerts to your needs.

Email Security Right Recipient Alert in Context
Email Security Transmission Level Encryption

Smart encryption

RMail has an “AI brain” that uses dynamic double-layered email encryption protocols to secure your emails. It adapts smartly per the encryption modes offered by the users’ email clients and switches the email encryption accordingly – without bothering either the sender or the recipient.

1. Transmission level encryption - RMail’s default email encryption mode transmits the message encrypted using a configurable level of TLS or Transport Layer Security and auto decrypts the email messages and attachments for the recipients. Your recipients do not need to enter any password, click any link, or install any software to decrypt the message. The email is sent encrypted right to the recipient’s inbox with a banner that says “Registered Encrypted” email and a text which will tell them that the email was sent encrypted.

2. Message level encryption - If your recipient’s email client does not have TLS or has a lower level of TLS than the minimum TLS threshold, the email will automatically revert to RMail’s “message level” encryption option. It automatically wraps the email content and attachments inside an AES 256-bit encrypted PDF to guarantee 100% email encryption. What this means is that the message and all attachments remain encrypted within the recipient’s email inbox and encapsulated inside a PDF file, and can be read only after decrypting in the recipient’s PDF reader. Here, you can create a password for your recipients or let RMail autogenerate one to decrypt email messages. Your recipients can also set their own decryption passwords.

Email Security Message Level Encryption (Recipient)
Email Security Redadct+

Content controls

Sometimes you take all the standard security measures to protect your content, only to find that the recipient later replies or forwards your email unencrypted, exposing your sensitive information. RMail offers a slew of content control features that will ensure your sensitive content remains protected even if it’s sent unencrypted or forwarded.

1. Redact+ - You can tag selected sensitive parts of an email by adding a carat sign (^), so that those parts are removed from the email body, which prevents recipients from replying or forwarding. It’s like erasing sensitive content from within an email or kill access to an attached document while at the recipient’s end. You can customize it to be viewed and redact access after one-view, a certain timeframe, or other criteria. This is part of RMail’s “protect-the-thread” revolution.

2. Disappearing Ink – To keep ultra-sensitive parts of messages private, use RMail’s Disappearing Ink to tag certain parts of an email message so that they disappear from within the email after delivery. You can set a timeframe to have the message disappear based on number of views, or time per view. Think of a remote-control way to “kill” certain content in email even after sending it.

Email Security Redadct Disappearing Ink Landing Page (Reader View)
Email Security Double Blind CC (Bcc Reader View)

3. Double Blind CC – You can remove the blind copy recipient reply-all risk. This is useful if you don’t want all the recipients to know who you are blind copying. With this feature, you can also remove potentially embarrassing moments when a BCC recipient deliberately or inadvertently replies to all.

Secure Your Emails with RMail

Email is an indispensable part of our lives now. It’s critical for businesses to not become complacent when it comes to protecting data shared via emails, as it can cause severe damage. With the growing threat of email threats, BEC frauds, viruses, spam, phishing, identity theft, and ransomware attacks, businesses have an added responsibility to secure their business data and treat email security as a priority.

RMail is simple to use and protects your data at a fraction of a cost of what you currently spend. Try it to protect your emails for free!