5 Fundamental Cybersecurity Issues With Email
Emails often contain confidential company information and personal information, so the damage due to an information leak is huge. Users need to be careful, as they may suffer damage from their own mistakes and leniency. While it is convenient, if mail security measures are not taken firmly, end-users and firms may be caught in unexpected trouble. By neglecting email security measures, the risk of information leakage is increased, and it can be infected with malware, etc. and even be targeted by organized cybercriminals.
There are various security risks that exploit email. Malware infections, phishing scams, spam emails, email mismailing, eavesdropping, spoofing, falsification … etc. The method of cyber attack using email has become clever and complex. Therefore, email security measures also change according to the risk. Users also need to take appropriate email security measures to ensure their data is safe. For example, if users get infected with malware via email, there is a risk that the very device (be it a full pledge PC or a smartphone/table) used for email may operate abnormally or data stored in it may leak-out.
If a shopping site or online bank ID or password is leaked, it can be exploited by a malicious third party and cause financial damage. In the case of emails used at work, when such risks occur, they not only cause financial damage but also lose the trust of customers, which is a long-term trouble for the brand.
If email security measures are incomplete, the following information leakage threats will occur:
- Email transmission error
Erroneous Email sending means sending wrong address settings or details when sending Email. There are two main cases of mail mistransmission:
- Input error of destination email address
- It will send information that was not supposed to be sent.
This includes sending an address to be sent in BCC in CC, sending an attachment incorrectly, etc. Unlike the risk of malware and targeted attacks, mismailing is one of the risks that can occur due to the sender’s carelessness. Once you send an email, you can not cancel it. Before sending an email, it is necessary to fully check the three items To, Body and Attachment.
- Targeted Attack (Spear email)
Targeted attacks (spear emails) are attacks that target specific targets to steal important data or personal information. Attackers of targeted attacks are not aimed at entertaining criminals or pranks. It is characterized by the fact that there are attackers who clearly aim at stealing the information held by the target company or user they targeted. Even if the content of the e-mail text is very natural, actions such as opening an attached file or clicking a URL are the most effective measures to always be careful.
- Malware sending / infection
Email attachments may be infected with malware. Types of attachments to infect with malware include executable files (extension .exe) and files containing MS Office macros. In the case of targeted attack mail in particular, there are overwhelmingly many cases in which the attached file is opened by thinking that it is all right. If the computer you are using gets infected with malware, you may even email with the malware attached to another person without your knowledge.
- Email sniffing
By monitoring the route from the sender to the recipient after receiving the email, the contents of the email may be intercepted. Also, if the ID and password of the mail receiving server are leaked, the contents of the mail may be intercepted by a third party logging into the mail server.
Phishing fraud is a form of fraud that steals credit card numbers, IDs and passwords by sending emails spoofing to a formal organization such as a financial institution and having them access fake URLs specified in the email. As a countermeasure against phishing scams, it is effective to take measures such as not accessing the URL described in the text if you think that it is a suspicious email, or checking whether the linked website uses SSL.
So far we have discussed email security risks in using email. What should I do to prevent such risks?
- Email Encryption
There is a widespread way to encrypt messages sent by email. Encrypting emails leads to the following security measures:
- Anti-eavesdropping protection: Prevents e-mail sniffing on your network.
- Tamper protection: Prevents the contents of sent mail from being rewritten.
- Countermeasure against email spoofing: It becomes the original sender and prevents mail from being sent.
- Mail detoxification
The detoxification of mail is to perform various processing in order to secure the text and attached file of the mail. There are two main methods for detoxifying mail. One is to make attachments and mail text harmless, and the other is to make programs used for attacks harmless. There is also a method of extracting the text contained in the attached file and reflecting it in the mail body, or a method of converting the whole body of the mail body and the attached file into an image file.
- Spam settings
Spam email is spam that is sent to an unspecified number of people with posted advertisements and product information. It is often sent for commercial purposes from a dating company or a company handling information products. Such emails can be dealt with by ignoring or blocking them, but if you click on the URL or the attached file in the text, your PC will be hijacked, and it will become a springboard and spam emails. Maybe the source of many spam emails have a stop delivery link at the bottom of the email, but clicking on this doesn’t allow you to stop delivery.
On the contrary, clicks may also cause new spam emails to be sent. There are two ways to deal with spam email: Email server side measures and User side measures. Measures on the mail server side are done on the server side by providers and providers that provide mail services such as Gmail. It provides a function that automatically determines the content of email and treats likely spam as spam.
On the other hand, the measure on the user side is to set processing such as rejecting reception of mail sent from a specific mail address or automatically distributing it to a spam mail folder. These settings can be configured in most email software. Some spam filtering features have learning capabilities, and some continue to do so to improve the accuracy of automatic spam distribution.
Kevin Jones951 Posts
Kevin Jones, Ph.D., is a research associate and a Cyber Security Author with experience in Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Assessments, Monitoring solutions, Surveillance and Offensive technologies etc. Currently, he is a freelance writer on latest security news and other happenings. He has authored numerous articles and exploits which can be found on popular sites like hackercombat.com and others.