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Email Threat Protection: How to Secure Outlook Office 365

Email Threat Protection

The landscape of the battlefield between email threat protection solutions and an attacking side is continually changing, as criminals develop new ways of gaining unauthorized access to organizations' corporate emails.

On the one hand, enterprises and their employees have always been the key targets of cybercriminals. Stealing, exposing, and selling of personal, corporate, financial, and other types of sensitive information, on the other hand, have always been the key goals of cyberattacks.

Since email is undoubtedly a #1 business tool for communication, no surprise, it is also a #1 vector for cyber-attacks (91%).

While a threat protection system comes with basic options, there is only one way email can be protected — and that is by implementing a strong multi-layered solution that’d be on top of that system and provide ultimate email security.

Advanced Email Threats: What Are They?

Email threat is a broad term.

In a nutshell, it is a whole package of email vulnerabilities cyber-criminals use to attack users’ Inboxes. The definition of advanced email threat relates to the complex of sophisticated cyber-attacks.

There are many types of cyberattacks, but the most popular are:

  • Phishing 
  • Spear phishing
  • Man-in-the-Middle (MITM)
  • Business Email Compromise (BEC)
  • Business Process Compromise (BPC)
  • Email Account Compromise (EAC)
  • Vendor Account Compromise (VEC)
  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Domain/Email Spoofing
  • Impersonation/Identity Theft
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS)
  • Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS)

To understand the sophisticated nature of such attacks, suffice to say that they can stand in close interdependence. 

For instance, an attacker could use an email bomb attack to send numerous emails to the same email address to overflow the mailbox to cover the tracks of other malicious actions or make the user stop using the email address.

This, in turn, can result in an email cluster bomb attack — when a particular email address is signing up to several email list subscriptions. Unsubscribing from those lists carries the risk, as clicking on an unsubscribe link can lead to malware to infect a device in its attempt to hijack sensitive information.

When email constitutes considerable menace and poses a critical danger for the company’s security, the next question naturally suggests itself.

What Defines Advanced Email Threat Protection?

Criminals are attempting to access both personal and company information.

The typical tool used are phishing emails. Such emails encourage you to visit websites requesting personal information.

Because the attacks' methods are different, email threat protection must include multiple layers of defense, combating standard threats like malware, viruses, spam, and targeted email attacks like phishing, BEC, VEC, EAC.

These attacks are designed to trick users into clicking on a malicious link, sharing confidential information, or even worse — wiring money to the fraudsters when selling or purchasing real estate.

Attackers Cannot Rely On Phishing Alone

Cyberattackers use popular vectors of attacks, such as man-in-the-middle, spear-phishing, and impersonation, but they also employ other powerful social engineering techniques.

By utilizing high-pressure email threat methods, cybercriminals urge employees to click, download, and open malware and virus-injected attachments.

There are some salient features by which you can identify a social-engineered email: 

  • A promise of a desirable outcome: no one wants to miss the opportunity to get in touch with a potential client.
  • The email creates a sense of urgency. 
  • Phony invoices make a recipient feel that they have to take action to avoid negative consequences. 

The red flags in the email might look the following: 

  • If you are not expecting an email, then probably you’d better not open it up.
  • An unexpected, surprising email and the unfamiliar sender should invoke your suspicions.
  • Attachments to emails make no sense, and their names are indistinct.
  • The email content is full of spelling and grammar errors.
  • The name of the company does not match the domain of the sender's email address.

Detection Not Equals Protection

Some email security systems solely rely on a couple of anti-malware detection services. While this can be less than non-effective, cybercriminals use specific ways to avoid detection, enabling them to beat traditional defenses.

What cyber fraudsters do is adapt to the detection systems. Files such as Microsoft Office, PDF, and image files can include potentially malicious active content, such as macros and scripts.

Although Secure Email Gateways might be a useful tool for filtering inbound and outbound emails for phishing, malware, and spam, there are thousands of new vectors of attacks, sophisticated techniques and common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE), that can easily ‘solve the issues’ of standard email filters.

As a result, malicious emails almost certainly will remain unnoticed in the Inbox folder. In the long run, that fact could cost you time, money, and resources [with a single click of a mouse].

Outlook Office365 Advanced Email Threat Protection

Email threat protection for Office 365 has the built-in spam filters and cloud-based email filtering service. It helps protect your organization against unknown malware and viruses by providing zero-day protection and includes features to secure your organization from harmful links.

But this is not enough for full email threat protection. The scan system cannot recognize malicious scripts, macro files, and hidden threats embedded in email attachments.

A comprehensive email threat protection is obtained only if you increase its capabilities.

This can be achieved with such a component as an add-in

Add-in is a software program that extends the capabilities of the main program. In terms of email, the main program is Microsoft Outlook.

Besides broaden functionality and enhanced data encryption methods, add-in provides:

  • A familiar user interface that upgrades user experience for better email security (no adaptation required).
  • Secure mailboxes against advanced email threats.
  • Protection against unsafe attachments (add-in prohibits to send emails with certain file types in attachments). 
  • Protection of email environment (you can limit, restrict, or revoke access rights to viewing and forwarding emails and attachments).
  • Prevent unauthorized or unintended recipients from accessing sensitive data.
  • Protection from malware, phishing, ransomware, business email compromise, domain spoofing, and identity theft.

Add-in will allow you to enhance your email security by encryption of confidential data, but it will also help you to accomplish compliance with local regulations and corporate policies (which, again, is impossible within standard functionality).

Improving Email Business Communication Flow

The good way to improve email business communication flow is to secure it. This evenly elaborates on email content and its attachments. 

If a link in a body message is unsafe, the user must be warned not to open this link, or that opening one may harm the organization's confidential data. 

Administrators’ control must be provided, so in case of any minor potential threat or if any suspicions relating to attachment or email itself arise, administrators can track which users clicked a link and when they clicked it.

Also, employees themselves can improve email business communication flow through constant training and education to know how to recognize potential email threats.

Another effective way to improve the flow and enhance a company's overall productivity is to ensure that email communication happens only between individuals whose identities were confirmed, and authorization permissions were granted.

StealthMail: Enterprise-Grade1 Email Threat Protection

The StealthMail cloud-based solution delivers an unprecedented level of email security that procures enterprises with advanced encryption algorithms, which reliably protect sensitive data from the dangers of traditional email communication channels.

Flexible and granular controls enable administrators to set necessary security policy and rapidly apply it to improve security and compliance.

StealthMail provides ultimate email security services, which include:

  • Seamless Integration in Company’s IT Environment (installed as Outlook Add-In).
  • Separate encryption of message content and its attachments
  • Asynchronous algorithms for key generation (ECC).
  • Advanced encryption/decryption standards (AES/Twofish).
  • Patented Technology for secure data transfer and delivery
  • Recognizable MS Outlook UI.
  • Legal Compliance (GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, GLBA, ITAR).
  • Data never leaves the company's secure perimeter.
  • The second factor is used to establish a secure connection and enhance security.
  • Revoke option (ability to withdraw access rights of email back after you’ve sent it).
  • Sensitive data is not sent over the SMTP protocol (only a crypto link).

To learn more about how StealthMail protects organizations from advanced email threats, download the Technical Datasheet, visit StealthMail.com, or Try Free Trial version of the StealthMail email security solution today.

1 “Enterprise-grade describes products that integrate into an infrastructure with a minimum of complexity and offer transparent proxy support.” (https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/enterprise-grade)


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