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Securing email better, together

Jul 26th, 2019

Email has become the main channel for business communications and a tool that no business can do without. However, this hasn’t escaped the attention of cybercriminals, who are using email as the primary vector for the distribution of malware and launching other attacks.

Adeshni Rohit, Business Unit Manager for Cisco at Axiz, SA’s leading value-added ICT distributor, says, the most recent data breach investigations report by Verizon, indicated that in 95% of breaches, email is the preferred means by which attackers communicate with their victims. “Even more concerning is that 4% of individuals targeted will click on a phishing campaign email without a second thought.”

There’s no question that threat actors are heavily dependent on email to carry out various acts of malfeasance, as they know it is highly effective and profitable, she explains. “There are many ways they do this. They could send out an email that is carefully crafted to appear like a legitimate email from a financial institution, featuring either a link that takes the user to a fake website that is asking for login credentials or they might hide malware within an executable attachment or even a regular, seemingly harmless file.”

One click is all it takes for the device, and too often the entire network, to become infected, adds Rohit. “There are countless ways cyber crooks pull the wool over their victims’ eyes. Tiny changes in a URL name, a slightly different spelling of a legitimate number, a number slipped randomly in – one thing you can be sure of though, is that their tricks are designed to defy all but the most thorough scrutiny.”

And although there are a multitude of email platforms used across the world, there is none as popular as Microsoft Office 365, which has become the standard in businesses of every size and across all industries. “It is highly cost-effective, user-friendly and gives its users a basic level of email security through its Microsoft Exchange Online Protection,” she explains.

However, as an increasing number of organisations adopt the platform, the opportunity for blended threats, or those which employ a combination of attacks against different vulnerabilities, has presented itself. “In reality, the default security levels for most current cloud-based email solutions just isn’t up to the challenge, which is why Microsoft depends on its partners to add an extra layer of security to protect its users.”

“One such partner is Cisco, who’s Email Security Solution can lower the risk of threats from ransomware by automatically removing any malicious file attachments. Moreover, it can protect against spam emails, fraudulent senders, as well as risky URLs,” Rohit adds.

For phishing, the solution has the ability to drop, rewrite or replace any malicious links within an email, and it can defend the business from email compromise through enhanced authentication controls for both senders and targets. “Cisco’s Email Security Solution is definitely the best fit for Office 365 customers.”

Another reason for this is that Cisco’s solution offers comprehensive threat intelligence through Cisco’s Talos team, one of the biggest and best threat intelligence teams in the world, made up of leading researchers, analysts, and engineers that are tasked with protecting Cisco’s customers against both known and emerging threats, she says.

“Take a look at the last few years. Enterprise giants, including Marriot, eBay, Yahoo and more have all suffered attacks, despite having the largest security budgets and the most cutting-edge solutions. And while there is no silver bullet, each layer of security is a layer of defence, making it more and more difficult for attackers to breach your network.”

Cisco Talos analyses more than 300 billion emails every day, Rohit explains. “The more data they gather, the clearer and broader view they have of the threat landscape. This number is more than competing threat intelligence teams see in an entire month. Moreover, they share the latest threat news every three to five minutes, meaning that action can be taken before a threat becomes an actual breach.”