Email Security: A Growing Concern
In today’s world, email has become the most prominent means of communication in every industry, especially in business and government sectors. Consequently, the importance of email security has increased significantly. Often emails carry confidential and sensitive data. Such information or data provides the attackers an opportunity to make financial gains through illicit means.
Email security refers to the protection of email content from various attackers or threats, protection against unauthorised revelation and unauthorised modification. The architecture of the underlying network plays an important role in securing emails. Many organisations make use of firewalls to prevent their network from the malicious attacks. To secure email from threats, an understanding of its background is important.
It is important to secure emails because of the following considerations:
Email Security Issues
Email continues to be the apex of threat areas in the field cybersecurity. Through email, a variety of malicious programs and social engineering tactics can be propagated.
Here are some of the email security threats faced by users:
Malicious email attachments: When a user receives a suspicious email attachment from an unknown sender, such attachment is referred as malicious email attachment. This email attachment, if downloaded, may result in the user’s login data getting compromised or cause damage to the operating system.
Malicious user direction: Malicious user direction emails lure a user by promising something that is completely different from what will eventually be delivered. The aim is to encourage the user to click a link that may redirect to another link or website hosting malware or spyware. Eventually, the user’s system is infected by the malware/spyware.
Spamming: Spam email is the unwanted junk mail that arrives in user’s mailbox such as brochures and pamphlets. Spam emails are sent in large quantity to an arbitrary set of recipients. These are also called Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE) or Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE).
Snowshoe spamming: Snowshoe spamming refers to the practice of sending spam across multiple domains and IP addresses to dodge filters. The use of multiple domains and IP addresses makes it difficult to recognise and catch snowshoe spams.
Phishing: Phishing is the practice of obtaining private information in a fraudulent manner. Phishing emails are legitimate looking emails that makes a user believe in them. An email may appear under the name of trustworthy company or a website requesting you to update your details.
Spear phishing: Spear Fishing has emerged as a recent threat. Like Phishing, spear phishing is the practice of obtaining private information in a fraudulent manner, but targets only few users or a specific individual. Phishing aims at sending large volumes of emails with the expectation that only few will respond. On the contrary, spear fishing requires the attackers to research and targets few people.
Spoof mail: Spoof mail, also called hoax mail, is a fake email message which is propagated as a genuine email. It is basically a scam that is designed for making a monetary gain.
Email Security Threats: Malicious Email Attachment
A malicious email attachment is sent by the attacker with the purpose of causing harm to the receiver’s computer. Such mails can install malware capable of destroying data and stealing information. They can also enable the attacker to take control of the user’s system, thereby giving them access to the data and other network systems.
Identifying Malicious Email Attachments
Malicious emails with attachment or links are sent by the undisclosed senders. Such mails usually appear with the subject line- “Hurry, time is about to be over” or “call to action:They try to create panic and sensation. The attempt is to create a situation where you are unable to use your judgement and can easily be tempted. Always beware of exciting and tempting offers, these can be a bait for performing a criminal act.
Risks Involved with Malicious Emails
Malicious emails received by unsuspecting recipients are capable of installing a virus, trojan, or key logger (for capturing keystrokes) on the recipient’s computer. Consequently, the computer become prone to public access.
Let us assume that you have downloaded a malicious attachment received in an email. In such a scenario, perform all the following steps:
- Disconnect the Internet connection immediately.
- Run antivirus software to scan your computer.
- Avoid passing critical data while scanning your machine.
- Enable filter or firewall software to avoid hazardous circumstances.
In order to safely use email, you should never download an attachment from an email that appears suspicious or you are unsure about. You must install antivirus software on your computer and ensure that the virus definitions are updated. It is advised that you scan your computer for infections on a regular basis.
Email Security Threats: Spamming
Spamming is the act of sending unwanted email message containing commercial content in large quantities. It is the form of commercial advertising that exists is not only in email service but also is news group, online games, instant messaging and so on.
Effects of Spamming
Some of the bad effects of email spamming are:
- Identity theft.
- Increase in worms &Trojan horses.
- Loss of Internet bandwidth and decreased performance.
- Mail servers and hard disk crash.
- Critical email messages are delayed.
- Search results are altered.
To prevent spam from entering your mailbox, perform the following:
- Avoid sharing personal information with unreliable sources.
- Avoid responding to unsolicited emails.
- Use spam and virus filter.
- Use firewall to stop attackers from outside world
- Make use of the BCC field while forwarding email messages to multiple recipients so that your email address is hidden from other recipients.
- Do not make a purchase by clicking links received in spam emails.
- Avoid opening suspicious looking emails.
Anti-Spamming Tool (SPAM fighter)
SPAM fighter is software that prevents unwanted email messages containing spam advertisements from entering your mailbox. It improves the system’s performance by providing optimisation and security and protection solutions. SPAM fighter blocks spam from entering the user’s inbox. It has a reporting feature that enables you to report any spam mails that you have received despite this control in place. Upon reporting, the toll will remove that email from the inboxes of all other community members also with a single click.
SPAM fighter has the following features:
- Protects all email accounts on your computer.
- Protects against identity theft and other email fraud.
- Privacy is guaranteed as the tool does not read your emails.
- Spam reporting can be done with a single click.
- Unique language filtering tool blocks email written in specific languages.
Spamihilator is a spam filter that acts between email clients and the internet. It examines and ccheck every incoming message and filter out the message and filters out the spam and junk mails among tham. It work in the background.
The merits of using Spamihilator are:
- Removes more than 98% of Spam mails before they enter the Inbox.
- Highest Spam recognition rate because it uses multiple filters.
- Highly configurable open source program.
- Spamihilator works with almost every email client such as Outlook , Eudora, opera, thunderbird , etc.
- Processes commonly used protocols such as POP3 and IMAP.
- Best possible separation between spam and non – spam is achieved.
- Adds all buddy messages to the friend list.
- Delete message from blocked sender list with out downloading them