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HOW TO KEEP YOUR EMAIL SECURE

Secure Email Accounts is one of the most important concerns in the digital world since the email account is one of the most targeted sources for cyber-attacks.

The Email accounts are the tempting targets for hackers; they find every possible way to infiltrate your email accounts as they are the unique identifiers for your online account logins.

If hackers gained access to your email account then they can identify the services associated with your accounts and they gain access to the associated accounts by requesting password resets.

Today Email accounts emerged as a major security threat for business and home computers. Attackers follow a variety of sophisticated methods to deliver malware attacks that cause a serious risk.

Top Email Threats

PHISHING

Attackers use phishing methods to infiltrate your sensitive login information such as bank account details, social media logins, and security numbers.

The phishing attacks work by tricking the victim by presenting a fake page by using a typo squatting and lure them to enter the credentials or sensitive information in it.

Most of the phishing emails appear to be coming from authentic sources; they include the same graphics and logo of the targeted financial institutions or banks.

The image is an example of a phishing mail:

SPOOFING

Email spoofing is the creation of email messages with a forged sender address. Because the core email protocols do not have any mechanism for authentication, it is common for spam and phishing emails to use such spoofing to mislead or even prank the recipient about the origin of the message.

Attackers using spoofing techniques to avoid spam blacklists, hiding sender identity and pretending to be from the well-known recipient.

Hackers hijack email address to launch a sophisticated email campaign to deliver malware and ransom ware.

MALWARE

Attackers use social engineered subject lines to trick the user into opening the malicious email attachment. The email attachments continue to be the most popular way to deliver malicious email.

By delivering malware attackers gain complete access to you, steals credentials, mine crypto currencies. In a recent campaign, attackers deliver malware through a corrupted zip file.

Email malware threat’s increasing year after year; attackers take advantage of the Email and deliver a variety of threats that include Ransom ware, viruses, worms, Banking Trojans, and spyware.

WHALING / BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE

Business email compromise (BEC) is a form of email fraud. Typically it involves targeting employees with access to company finances and using social engineering to trick them into making money transfers to the bank accounts of the fraudster. Often email spoofing is used to create an email pretending to be from the CEO, or a trusted customer.

SOCIAL ENGINEERING

Social engineering is a part of manipulating people to grab sensitive information from them. Email spoofing is the common form of social engineering attack.

Attackers posed as they are from a trusted source and engage in conversation with employees to gain access to the organizations and to perform various actions.

The social engineering technique to lure victim’s and retrieve sensitive data and financial data from them.

SPAM

Email spam, also known as junk email, is unsolicited messages sent in bulk by email. Most email spam messages are dangerous because they may contain links that lead to phishing web sites or sites that are hosting malware – or include malware as file attachments.

Spammers collect email addresses from chat rooms, websites, customer lists, newsgroups, and viruses that harvest users’ address books. These collected email addresses are sometimes also sold to other spammers

Method to Secure Email

HAVE STRONG PASSWORDS

Strong passwords play an important role in securing your accounts; hackers use brute forcing tools and attempt to gain access to your accounts.

A strong password is the first step to secure email, it is recommended to create a unique password for each of your online accounts. If you have a weak password then you won’t give hackers much work to hack into your account.

You can use haveibeenpwned.com, a way to search whether your own email address or password has been compromised by a breach at any point.

IMPLEMENT 2FA

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an authentication method in which a computer user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence (or factors) to an authentication mechanism: knowledge (something the user and only the user knows), possession (something the user and only the user has), and inherence (something the user and only the user is)

Two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA) is a type, or subset, of multi-factor authentication. It is a method of confirming users’ claimed identities by using a combination of two different factors: 1) something they know, 2) something they have, or 3) something they are.

A good example of two-factor authentication is the withdrawing of money from an ATM; only the correct combination of a bank card (something the user possesses) and a PIN (something the user knows) allows the transaction to be carried out.

EMAIL THREAT PROTECTION

Email threat prevention (ETP) is a security prevention technique that helps minimize the risks associated with a data breach by adding an additional layer of protection to an existing secure email gateway. ETP is designed to identify and stop email-borne attacks including phishing, ransom ware and other exploitable content that is sent in an email body or downloaded as an email attachment.

ENCRYPT YOUR MESSAGES

Email encryption is encryption of email messages to protect the content from being read by entities other than the intended recipients. Email encryption may also include authentication.

Email encryption can rely on public-key cryptography, in which users can each publish a public key that others can use to encrypt messages to them, while keeping secret a private key they can use to decrypt such messages or to digitally encrypt and sign messages they send.  The Email encryption is the proven mechanism to keep your email private, it hides the data from prying eyes. There are two main types of encryption S/MIME and PGP/MIME.

DON’T OPEN UNWANTED ATTACHMENTS AND LINKS

Don’t open emails that received from the untrustworthy source and open the attachments only if it is required.

The Email is the gateway for sophisticated threats entering your organization, attackers use Email’s to deliver malware and ransom ware. Most Organizations defends from Spam, Malware, Ransom ware, Phishing, and Malicious Attachments by using premium Threat Protection solutions.

DIGITALLY SIGN YOUR EMAILS

By adding a digitally signed email, we can make sure the email was altered while it in transit. Having an Email digitally signed ensures the integrity of the message.The digital signature provides the authenticity and the digital signature in the email ensures the content hasn’t been altered in transit.

USE PASSWORD MANAGER

A password manager assists in generating and retrieving complex passwords, potentially storing such passwords in an encrypted database or calculating them on demand.

Types of password managers include:

  Locally installed software applications

  Online services accessed through website portals

  Locally accessed hardware devices that serve as keys

Password managers keep your password safe and it allows you to set a unique password for all the accounts, it relieves the burden of remembering all the passwords. A password manager allows you to set up a strong and unique password for all of your email accounts.

CONCLUSION

Here we have highlighted the common email attack vectors and the measures that need to be taken to secure email from hackers. By having a strong password does not always protect you from cyber-attacks. You should have some Enterprise Grade Email Security to protect your Email accounts from Ransom ware, Phishing and Spoofing attacks.

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Written by Anthony Olanrewaju

Am a cybersecurity professional and also a network engineer.

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