February 4, 2021
“Not until a program has been in production for six months will the most harmful error be discovered” - Troutman's Second Programming Postulate
Unfortunately for everyone, this programming corollary on Murphy's law often turns out to be the ugly truth.
How often do you hear the news about another IT security flaw being discovered? It happens on an on-going basis.
For example, in 2019 a severe privacy flaw was found in Bluetooth protocol: a device sent its Bluetooth MAC address to so-called advertising channels — public channels via which Bluetooth devices announce their presence to other devices. This flaw allowed anyone who was in a close range of a signal to collect a unique identifier. For this reason, anyone could easily track the device with the Bluetooth turned on.
The issue was addressed not only to the headphones and speakers but also could impact "printers, data and image exchange between devices and car systems".
Since then, it has got many people thinking, hackers exploring, and IT security working.
IT (information technology) security aims to protect collected, stored, and processed company's both physical and electronic data (for example, contracts, blueprints, credit card numbers, email addresses, and customers’ names) and information systems from unauthorized access. It combines the implementation of measures that prevent the misuse, alteration or stealing of sensitive information.
In other words, IT security is utilized to ensure confidentiality, security, and integrity of data created and available to an enterprise.
Securing electronic types of information requires especially great efforts from IT security, as this is the aspect that is most at risk. Thus, it is not surprising that IT security has to respond to the threats mentioned above quickly.
Unlike IT, cybersecurity is responsible for the protection of online data. It covers security aspects which mainly focus on preventing data from being exposed and remaining safeguarded from hackers and cybercriminals.
As more businesses rely on cloud computing, cybersecurity includes developing systems that can repel risks associated with disclosing confidential data online.
Cybersecurity not only protects electronic data that’s being transferred across the internet, but it also takes care of data at rest and in use.
The telling illustration of all three types of data states (in transit, at rest, and in use) can be found in a single daily operation of every organization — emailing.
Every email or attachment employees send or open may expose (in- or unintentionally) sensitive information to cybercriminals. Add to this the fact that malware in attachments and phishing emails continuously develop to be more trickier to detect. It becomes clear why implementing a cybersecurity plan is critical for businesses and why they're paying attention to this issue more and more these days.
For the same reason, nowadays, you will often find the terms IT security and cybersecurity used interchangeably as they essentially focus the majority of their effort on addressing electronic data security.
The list of means employed to ensure security often contains essentials like antivirus, firewall protection, encryption software reinforced with various anti-spam and email filters. But even despite the efforts and precautionary measures, hacks and leaks still occur. Why?
Email protocol has been around for dozens of years yet continues to delight IT security experts (and hackers) with new vulnerabilities.
It is the inviting crack in the existing security walls of many companies, and here are the three solid reasons why:
The current condition of the email protocol can be easily exploited.
Initially, email was introduced back in the early 1980s and was never built with the mind to respond to security threats 40 years into the future. Sure, the original protocol received a few upgrades here and there, but they failed to introduce any significant changes to shift the conversation around email security.
Simply Googling ‘how to hack email’ will reveal over 250 million results in a fraction of a second. Some of those methods are working too, even on the first page.
The availability of information surrounding the exploitation of email vulnerabilities and the low skill requirement for execution means anyone can attempt a ‘hack’.
The subject of firewall protection, email filters, anti-spam software, and various encryption solutions was briefly mentioned as these means are a typical go-to when it comes to email protection. The problem is that they hardly address the core issue of email – SMTP.
A similar suite of solutions is typically deployed in an attempt to deal with select email problems minimizing overall risks, but only to a certain degree of success.
Anti-spam, for example, blocks several incoming threats while email filters provide an additional, often customizable and more aggressive, layer of filtering to dispose of an above-average amount of sneaky phishing attempts. For threats that get past the filters, in theory, firewall protection software exists to stop them. And in the worst-case scenarios, the hope is that anti-virus should be able to detect and to hunt down the stealthiest of malicious programs that made it all the way through. All of these solutions are designed to decrease risk, not eliminate them.
In practice, computers remain infected for months until threats are spotted and dealt with. By then, terabytes of data often happen to have been already stolen.
But did you notice that we have briefly talked about incoming emails only?
That’s because, in most cases, companies have little to no control over the transfer of outgoing data. At best, outgoing files are encrypted hoping that a rouge party won’t have the means or computing power to crack it open.
Outbound email is Pandora's box of IT security no-one wants to open.
The number of ways to exploit email is extensive and goes beyond security vulnerabilities.
These exploits are relatively simple to pull off, and most cybersecurity solutions do not focus on sealing up the cracks in corporate IT security that make it possible. As a result, cybercriminals often simply don’t feel the need to find new vectors.
Email continues to be a key component of cyberattacks and the reason being mostly the dated SMTP.
With the current state of email, the only surefire way you can keep your emails safe is by NOT using SMTP to transfer email content at all.
Here are a few things about StealthMail that you need to know:
With StealthMail, you can strengthen your IT security and protect your organization from notorious email threats such as man-in-the-middle, BEC, and EAC. To learn more about the StealthMail solution, visit stealthmail.com. For more technical information on how exactly StealthMail works, download the technical datasheet or install a free trial to try StealthMail email security solution today.
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