Email Security: A Priority for Small and Medium Enterprises

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Email Security: A priority for Small and Medium Enterprises. Email security is a critical priority for businesses of all sizes Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security > Email Security: A Priority for Small and Medium Enterprises By Cian Fitzpatrick | 3rd June 2024 As a small-to-medium business, you might think you don’t need to be concerned with all this cybercrime stuff. Cybercriminals don’t care for small businesses. The takings are too small. This couldn’t be further from the truth. But oddly, it is a widely held misconception.  There’s a certain logic here that cybercriminals would be well aware of: big businesses have big budgets, right? They can spend a fortune on protecting their digital assets. Conversely, smaller businesses have smaller budgets, and probably less digital assets to protect (we’re talking data, the new gold). The return might be smaller, but the fruit is hanging lower.  While you might think that you’re a small fry and don’t really need security for your business, make no mistake, that someone out there thinks you’re fry enough.  And cybercrime is a growing economy, it’s become an easy trade, with ready-made software solutions available on the Dark Web.  The facts are not optimistic. Cybercrime is the number one threat when it comes to financial crime in Ireland, says the Compliance Institute, which surveyed 230 compliance professionals working in Irish financial services. Hacking, phishing, online scams and other forms of cybercrime have overtaken tax evasion and insider trading. And anybody who accesses the internet, is a target and possible victim. So while smaller businesses are squeezed for resources, they simply cannot afford to neglect this issue. According to a 2022 report by Grant Thornton, cybercrime was going to cost Ireland more than €10bn that year. That’s a lot of money leaking out of the economy.  The same report showed that one in three SMEs fell victim to cybercrime between May ’21 and April ’22, with an average pay-out to fraudsters at €22 773 per incident. But 2023 figures say that nearly three in four businesses (not necessarily SMEs though) had been attacked in the 12 months prior. That same report says that Ireland had the highest median average number of attacks, Ireland is the country most likely to pay a ransom and that the number was four times higher than the previous year.  There is a silver lining however: The single biggest attack in Ireland in 2023, cost €118,128, down from €5.2m in 2022. Silicon Republic has also said that according to Hiscox Business Insurance, Ireland has the highest rate of cyber-insurance ownership of all the countries surveyed, which included the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the US. The direct financial implications are obvious, but less obvious is the reputational and trust damage that results from these issues. As well as private data that is now “in the wild”.  Protect Your SME with topsec cloud solutions Get A Quote Types of cybercrime that target SMEs: Ransomware, as the name suggests, kidnaps data until money is paid over, simplistically. This is malware that blocks access to a victim’s data by encrypting it, and a decryption key can be “bought”.  Business Email Compromise, BEC, attacks specific employees that have access to company funds or sensitive data. This is often combined with impersonation, where a fraudster will pretend to be a senior staff member or client. They’ll request money or access to systems.  Password attacks unsurprisingly, involve cybercriminals using a range of methods to learn credentials. One study in 2022 found  that more than 80% of successful hacks are as a result of accessing user login details. Social engineering, phishing, brute force, are all methods of gaining the information that’ll get a criminal in, either providing access to sensitive systems and data, or even to money.  SMEs are just as much at risk of social engineering attacks. A recent report from 2022 says that organisations with over 2000 employees are only slightly more of a target than their counterparts with less than 100 employees. The number of attacks on a larger enterprise is far more, but as a percentage, it remains more-or-less the same.  The bigger issue is that the cost of a breach is generally far more devastating for a small company, than it is for a larger organisation. Cybersecurity Ventures says that 60% of small businesses will close their doors six months after a security breach. This is a huge threat to small businesses, with 43% of online attacks focused on SMEs currently. Of concern should be that SMEs are seemingly unprepared for an attack. A 2023 report found that almost 25% of SMEs had either been attacked or hadn’t realised they’d been attacked in the 12 months prior. 61% of SMEs didn’t have dedicated cybersecurity experts, 47% didn’t have an incident response plan and 27% didn’t have cyber-insurance coverage. What can you do? Every company is experiencing budget cuts right now. It’s tight, but a large part of being a secure company is phishing awareness. Employee training and instilling security consciousness into each and every staff member is key. Regular training on identifying a potential “phishy” email, or social engineering and impersonation attempts are crucial.  Multifactor authentication is an account login process that demands more than one method of logging in. It may involve a password as well as a security token, or biometric verification.  Software systems that prevent dodgy emails from even entering an organisation’s domain are a favourite preventative measure. If measures can be taken to halt the threat before it even reaches inboxes, that’s ideal.  An incident response plan should also be in place. A cyber attack has become a likely event in today’s world, and planning for the eventuality may help limit the damage. It also generates a preventative-approach-mentality. Forewarned is forearmed.  More and more, legislation is forcing companies – big and small – to take responsibility for their own environment and accountability for a breach. Organisations are only really holders of data, not owners. The onus is on these companies to

DMARC is now compulsory, thanks to Yahoo and Google.

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DMARC is now compulsory, thanks to Google and Yahoo. Email Security requires DMARC Protection. Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security > DMARC DMARC is now compulsory, thanks to Google and Yahoo. By Cian Fitzpatrick | 17th May 2024 Not the cool kid in town, and as old as the internet itself, email remains the most productive business tool. By the same token, it’s the most effective tool for cybercriminals. With this in mind, regulators have been focusing on email security in an attempt to curtail cybercrime.  As methods became more sophisticated than simply poorly worded emails promising royal riches from secret vaults in places unknown, so too have security protocols and technology to halt the incoming onslaught. Proactive security solutions are the only way to protect organisations in this age where data is gold. DMARC is now a compliance issue Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, also known as DMARC, is a solution developed to be highly effective in email security.  So much so that Google and Yahoo have implemented stringent DMARC regulations taking effect in February of this year for senders of 5000 or more messages per day.  Email domains must have a DMARC policy in the DNS (Domain Name System) and messages must pass DMARC alignment, or they won’t be delivered to Yahoo and Gmail inboxes. This applies to messages sent on an organisation’s behalf through email service providers such as MailChimp.  The DNS is the equivalent of the internet’s phonebook – remember those? We access websites through a name, but web browsers talk to each other through IP addresses, so the DNS essentially converts domain names to IP addresses. What’s DMARC? DMARC integrates SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) to verify an email’s authenticity.  One of the biggest issues in recent security breaches has been that attackers can impersonate a domain, making an email look like it comes from someone, when it really comes from someone else (a fraudster).  DMARC is a robust solution that makes sure to check that the email originates where it says it originates, and can then block phishing and impersonation attempts.  DMARC relies on two key elements:  SPF confirms the origin of an incoming email. And DKIM, which uses encryption to authenticate an email and prevent identity forgery.    DMARC records instruct recipient servers on handling emails that fail authentication checks, either by quarantine or outright rejection. This may be flagged due to a difference between a supposed email sender and the actual email address. It’s a crucial layer of defence. In the old days, platforms like Google relied on filters to sieve out spammers and fraudsters. The filters were often so severe that legitimate emails would be blocked. Cyber security is always a fine line between keeping a system safe and minimising user discomfort. Get DMARC Compliant with Topsec today Get A Quote More than just compliance, it’s about trust. Google and Yahoo’s move to compel businesses to adopt DMARC is encouraging. On one hand, organisations are teaching their employees to have a healthy distrust of email. However, as a brand and organisation, you want those with whom you engage to trust your digital communications. By implementing solid security measures like those offered by Topsec Cloud Solutions, it’s an opportunity to strategically raise your brand profile as one that can be trusted.  The DMARC initiative by Google and Yahoo isn’t purely about technology.  The three pillars behind this strategy from a user’s perspective are that email will be authenticated in the background (as discussed above), it will be easy to unsubscribe from mailing lists, and emails cannot be spammy – they have to be wanted by recipients.  This is a positive move for users and organisations, although it does mean that businesses may have to review their technology strategy if they send more than 5000 emails a day. The idea is to encourage and enhance trust in email communications and to proactively protect against fraud.  For organisations that have yet to implement DMARC, it’s an opportunity to ensure the protocol is correctly executed, but it’s also as a confidence-building practice within and across organisations.  There’s an element of brand reputation and integrity in all of this. Who doesn’t want to do business with an ethical organisation that looks after its assets and its clients’ assets? For marketing teams, it’s a chance to demonstrate outstanding values and a security-aware ethos.  This is not just a technology issue. Once again, it’s highlighted that cybersecurity belongs to each stakeholder in the business.  There’s also the compliance angle. Failure to comply will lead to delays in email delivery and possible rejection. The effect on brand reputation and trust in integrity will be significant.  And that’s the best-case scenario.  The possibility of a cyber attack becomes very real for organisations that don’t comply, or which implement DMARC incorrectly. These attacks have devastating financial and reputational consequences. It’s the responsibility of each organisation to secure their digital channels. Recovering from a phishing or spoofing attack is expensive, time-consuming, and incredibly stressful for stakeholders. Data and privacy breaches become a nightmare for everyone and the damage can be permanent, or at best, lengthy to repair. DMARC in practice. Both Google and Yahoo offer transparent error codes for each email rejection. The error codes are freely available and offer an explanation along with the numerical code, making it easy to understand why an email was blocked, and what action should be taken. Failures are generally either temporary or permanent.  With 90% of all cyber attacks initiated through phishing, which is generally done via email, it’s understandable that the largest tech organisations are taking control. By forcing companies to protect themselves and their users, they’re helping to make the internet a safer place and combat cybercrime. This is and always will be a process, but organisations need to work together. And this is more than a security issue, it’s a chance to prove to clients that your organisation is taking security seriously.  Our DMARC Protection

How to Build a Resilient Email Security Architecture

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How to Build a Resilient Email Architecture. Strategies for Enhanced Cybersecurity Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security > How to Build a Resilient Email Architecture. By Cian Fitzpatrick | 1st May 2024 Email (and email security) is the cornerstone of modern business. Efficient, convenient, productive, it’s the most prolific business tool on which we’ve come to rely. Hence, email remains the primary medium by which cyber threats enter an organisation (91% of threats come through this gateway). Tactics to slide through security systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and reliance on human fallibility is key to successful breaches. Effective cybercriminals use a multipronged approach in their endeavours: technology… and social engineering. If we wish to counteract their techniques, we need to proactively defend our assets. And also use a multidimensional strategy. Technology alone is not enough. But it helps. Employee education alone is not enough. But it helps.  What are the biggest threats to email security? Bad actors are getting smarter. We’re seeing more malicious QR codes within emails and email attachments. They often appear harmless at first, but post-delivery, they’re able to change destination or characteristic. Likewise with URLs, threats can be triggered and clicks redirected, hours or even days after arrival in an inbox. This can make it difficult for gateway security systems to nab threats as they enter a domain.  There’s also been a rise in OneDrive as a delivery method of malicious threats, with files that look initially like they contain nothing untoward. Again, threats are triggered some time later.  Whaling and spear phishing attacks are on the increase, where senior staff is tracked and targeted. Information is accumulated from across the web, using social media, and professional platforms to find out who’s-who and where they are. Impersonation techniques involve the clever use of AI and other easily available technology. Remember that this is an industry the size of a country’s economy (third after the US and China, in fact). Compromises in the supply chain are also growing. The use of contractors can be risky. But who doesn’t use contractors and partners? If a supplier’s security is not up to scratch, the knock-on can be huge, and cybercriminals are exploiting smaller suppliers to funnel into larger organisations. Partners are often trusted and the relationship is solid, and so systems don’t flag them up.  Human behaviour will always be a stumbling block for organisations. And not just users who are prone to social engineering – which is all of us – there’s also the risk that protocols like DKIM/DMARC are not set up correctly. Compliance regulations and cyber insurance policies may demand these protocols, but correct set-up takes effort and understanding. IT departments are under huge pressure, it’s not surprising then that these protocols become a mere box-ticking exercise. IT staff are often at the point of burn-out and their familiarity with risks, or incessant flags on the systems they monitor, can hinder them from seeing the wood for the trees.  What can we do? Central to protecting a cyber environment is a proactive approach. Constant staff-awareness training should be one arm of defence, and technology, the other.  A proactive approach means tackling emails before they reach inboxes, before they’re in transit on an organisation’s infrastructure. Once a threat is in an inbox, it could be too late. The onus is then on the user to determine that the email is fraudulent, and this could be the weak link. The sophistication of these scams lies in their appearing sound of character, links and attachments are unthreatening. But they’re manipulable once they’ve reached their destination, and that when they attack. Scammers are taking less of a birdshot approach now. They’re targeting specific people or roles in an organisation, and starting a process of engagement which begins innocently enough. Like this, their emails seem legitimate and go unflagged. Once they have you on a trusting journey, they’re able to lead you to malicious content.  DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) is an email authentication protocol. Its aim is to protect an email domain from unauthorised use, particularly email spoofing, or the creation of forged email addresses. Set up DMARC Protection correctly in order to protect businesses from email-based compromises, phishing scams, and other cyber threat activities. Ensure your email security solution scans malicious qr codes Get A Quote The path of an email in an ideal environment On entry to an organisation, an email encounters an antivirus scanner, where it will be reviewed for legitimacy. DMARC and DKIM protocols will be correctly configured and vulnerabilities are constantly monitored on the Dark Web. The AV scanner will look at whether an email’s credentials have been previously encountered, if there’s an existing fingerprint for it, whether or not it has an attachment, link, or QR code. There are three options at this point. The email may be found to be legitimate and risk-free, it may be deemed malicious and blocked, or it may go into a sandbox for further investigation. There are several sandbox environments, one for attachments, one for URLs, one for QR codes. What’s a sandbox? An email sandbox is an isolated environment identical to the user environment. It’s like a laboratory, where an attachment can be exploded or code can be executed in the vacuum of the sandbox without affecting or bringing down the entire network. Sandboxes are particularly effective against Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), which are custom-developed, targeted attacks. Their aim is to steal data and they’re designed to elude traditional detection methods. Human intervention and observation allows for further research into an attempted attack and action taken. The knowledge and experience of people cannot be underestimated in cybersecurity.  Architecture aside… You can have all the best systems in place, solid procedures, cutting edge technology, and the most vigilant IT team, but ultimately, the target for cybercriminals is you and me. Every person in an organisation is a possible access point for a scammer. And so it is up to each person to be the

Ransomware and Email Security: A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Digital Assets

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Ransomware andEmail Security A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Digital Assets Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security >Ransomware Ransomware and Email Security: A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Digital Assets By Cian Fitzpatrick | 14th February 2024 Ransomware attacks have escalated rapidly in the first few months of 2024. And while they were always a formidable threat to individuals and businesses alike, these attacks are becoming even more sophisticated.  But all is not lost.  As Deloitte’s report explains, 91% of all cyber attacks come through email. That gives us the first clue as to how to withstand being In the crosshairs of ransomware attacks. Namely, email security emerges as a frontline defence, pivotal in thwarting the advance of malicious actors. To do this, it’s important to understand the intricacies of ransomware and how fortifying your email protocols can significantly mitigate the risk of a devastating breach.  In this article, you will learn: The nature and evolution of ransomware threats. Best practices for enhancing email security. How to create a robust response plan for ransomware attacks. Investing in your email security is a strategic business move that has benefits across your whole organisation.   Now that it’s Spring, why not spring clean your inbox to protect your digital assets against the growing tide of ransomware threats through strategic email security measures. Understanding Ransomware DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. This protocol, integrating SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), is crucial in verifying email authenticity. In turn, ensuring an email really is from who it says it is from reduces the risk of cyber threats such as phishing and spoofing. Now we can see the Valentine’s link! Verifying your email authenticity is how you treat your email recipients well! The Critical Role of Email in Ransomware Attacks Email remains the most common vector for ransomware attacks, serving as a direct line for attackers to deliver malicious payloads to unsuspecting victims.  This is a sobering thought, but it’s also an encouraging one. Shore up your email security and you go a long way to securing your whole business. The simplicity and effectiveness of email-based tactics, combined with the human factor of curiosity or negligence, make email a preferred tool for cybercriminals. Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails that masquerade as legitimate communications from trusted entities. These emails might contain malicious attachments or links that, once clicked, initiate the ransomware infection process.  For example, a seemingly benign PDF or Word document attached to an email can, when opened, unleash ransomware onto the user’s system. Similarly, links embedded within the email body can redirect users to compromised websites designed to download ransomware directly onto their devices. Protect your organisation against ransomware attacks Get A Quote Enhancing Email Security to Combat Ransomware Even with robust preventive measures in place, the possibility of a ransomware attack cannot be entirely eliminated.  For this reason, having a comprehensive ransomware response plan is crucial for minimising damage and swiftly restoring operations. Key components of an effective response plan include immediate isolation of infected systems, identification of the ransomware variant, a communication strategy, engagement with cybersecurity professionals, recovery and data restoration and post-incident analysis and strengthening defences. Developing a Ransomware Response Plan Google and Yahoo will start rejecting a portion of email correspondence from users who don’t comply fully by the deadline in the coming months. You may receive particular error codes and messages if your emails are refused because they don’t follow these new guidelines. These codes are useful bits of information that can help you solve the problems; they are not just arbitrary strings of characters and numbers. Case Studies: Successful Defense Against Ransomware These case studies have been compiled from an amalgamation of real world examples to highlight the importance of preparedness, the efficacy of comprehensive email security and the benefits of having a rapid response plan. 1. Example of a Phishing Email Leading to Ransomware Infection. Imagine a finance manager at a mid-sized company receives an email that appears to be from their CEO, requesting urgent review of an attached invoice. The email looks legitimate, complete with the CEO’s email signature and company logo. However, the attachment is actually a malicious file that, once opened, encrypts the company’s financial data and demands a ransom. This example illustrates the sophistication of phishing attempts and the importance of verifying email contents before opening attachments. 2. Example of a ransomware attack on a small business without a backup plan. A small retail business falls victim to a ransomware attack after an employee clicks on a malicious link in an email. The ransomware encrypts their sales and inventory data, causing the business to halt operations. Without recent backups, the business faces a dilemma: pay a hefty ransom with no guarantee of data recovery or attempt to rebuild its data from scratch, risking significant financial and reputational damage. This scenario highlights the critical need for regular data backups as part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. 3. Successful Mitigation of a Ransomware Attack Through Quick Response. An IT administrator at a law firm notices unusual network activity and quickly identifies it as a ransomware attack in progress. By immediately isolating the infected systems and deploying the firm’s response plan, the administrator prevents the ransomware from spreading to critical case files. Thanks to well-maintained and encrypted off-site backups, the firm is able to restore the affected systems without paying the ransom, showcasing the effectiveness of a rapid response and robust backup strategy. The Ransomware Menace The menace of ransomware looms large. It’s also not going away anytime soon (if ever). But understanding its workings and prioritising email security can significantly reduce your vulnerability to attacks. Our intention with this article has been to explore the evolution of ransomware, the critical role of email in its dissemination, and actionable strategies for fortifying your defences against these cyber threats. Additionally, the development of a comprehensive ransomware response plan cannot be over exaggerated, nor the lessons learned from successful

Enhancing Email Security with DMARC: A Must for Businesses in 2024

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Navigating the New DMARC Landscape Google & Yahoo’s 2024 Regulations & Error Codes Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security >DMARC Navigating the New DMARC Landscape: Google & Yahoo’s 2024 Regulations It can seem strange to link Valentine’s Day with DMARC rules, but the month of love has something to tell us about how we treat our email recipients. And the two largest email platform providers in the world are driving this point home. As of February 2024, Google and Yahoo have implemented stringent DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) regulations, significantly impacting how businesses handle email security.  For years, Topsec Cloud Solutions has been at the forefront of guiding companies through all of their email security needs. We’re here to do the same with the latest rules. Follow the advice in this blog to ensure your firm is fully compliant with the DMARC requirements. By Cian Fitzpatrick | 14th February 2024 Understanding DMARC and Its Importance in Email Security What is DMARC? DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. This protocol, integrating SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), is crucial in verifying email authenticity. In turn, ensuring an email really is from who it says it is from reduces the risk of cyber threats such as phishing and spoofing. Now we can see the Valentine’s link! Verifying your email authenticity is how you treat your email recipients well! The Mechanics of DMARC: SPF and DKIM The DMARC protocol hinges on two foundational elements:  SPF, which confirms the origin of incoming emails. And DKIM, employing asymmetric encryption to authenticate emails and prevent identity forgery.   The Impact of Google and Yahoo’s DMARC Rules on Businesses Adapting to the New Standards The recent mandate from Google and Yahoo necessitates businesses sending over 5,000 emails daily to adopt DMARC technology. This move is aimed at reinforcing trust in digital communications and safeguarding against electronic fraud.  Therefore it’s safe to say that adopting DMARC rules in your own organisation is not only a compliance issue. It’s a strategic move towards strengthening your email integrity, fortifying your cyber threat defences and ultimately taking care of your brand’s reputation. In this era, where email communication forms the backbone of corporate communication, ensuring that emails are verified and trusted has never been more critical.  Your emails are the vital conduit between you and your customers. For this reason, businesses must understand that DMARC implementation is more than a technical requirement. It’s a commitment to upholding the highest standards in digital communication.  By aligning with these new standards, businesses can demonstrate their dedication to cybersecurity. This goes a long way to enhancing your reputation and building stronger relationships with clients who value security and reliability.  Moreover, with the proliferation of sophisticated phishing attacks and email scams, DMARC acts as a frontline defence, ensuring that the emails businesses send and receive are legitimate and safe. Start your free dmarc trial today Start Trial The Consequences of Non-Compliance Failing to align with these standards could lead to significant communication barriers, as emails may be rejected by these platforms.  This change underscores the importance of adopting DMARC not just for compliance but for enhancing digital security and maintaining corporate integrity.  If your organisation doesn’t comply with these rules, email rejection will be just one of the consequences you face. You’ll also need to account for diminished brand reputation. It’s not difficult to see how customers and partners would lose trust in an organisation’s ability to secure its communication channels.  In the worst-case scenario, businesses may find themselves vulnerable to cyber-attacks, including phishing and spoofing. The devastating consequences of these attacks, ranging from data breaches to financial losses, are frequently reported in the media.  Moreover, non-compliance could also translate into legal challenges, especially for businesses in industries regulated for data protection and privacy. Therefore, it is imperative for organisations to understand that adhering to these new email security standards is not an option but a necessity.  The proactive adoption of DMARC can serve as a badge of honour, showcasing a company’s commitment to security and modern best practices in digital communication. So there’s a marketing and business development win here too. Recognising Various Google & Yahoo Error codes Google and Yahoo will start rejecting a portion of email correspondence from users who don’t comply fully by the deadline in the coming months. You may receive particular error codes and messages if your emails are refused because they don’t follow these new guidelines. These codes are useful bits of information that can help you solve the problems; they are not just arbitrary strings of characters and numbers. Google Error Codes Google offers transparent explanations for each email rejection. These are a few of the error codes that you can see if you don’t follow Google’s guidelines for senders. 550, “5.7.26” Unauthenticated email from domain-name is not accepted due to domain’s DMARC policy. Please contact the administrator of domain-name domain. If this was a legitimate mail please visit Control unauthenticated mail from your domain to learn about the DMARC initiative. If the messages are valid and aren’t spam, contact the administrator of the receiving mail server to determine why your outgoing messages don’t pass authentication checks. 550, “5.7.26” This message does not have authentication information or fails to pass authentication checks (SPF or DKIM). To best protect our users from spam, the message has been blocked. 550, “5.7.26” This message fails to pass SPF checks for an SPF record with a hard fail policy (-all). To best protect our users from spam and phishing, the message has been blocked. 550, “5.7.1” The IP you’re using to send mail is not authorized to send email directly to our servers. This usually happens when the IP address used has been blacklisted. You can access the full list of Googles error codes here.  Yahoo Error Codes The error codes you’ll encounter due to non-compliance with Yahoo’s sender requirements are 5xx (553 and 554). Here’s what receiving these error codes indicates: Authentication failures Your email failed one or more authentication checks

Navigating Email Security Challenges: Trends of 2023 Show The Way Forward for 2024

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Email Security 2024:Overcoming Challenges faced in 2023 Here are the top Email Security trends that we think will shape 2024. Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security &gt Navigating Email Security Challenges: Trends of 2023 Pave The Way Forward for 2024 As we progressed through 2023, the digital landscape witnessed a continuous evolution in email security threats.  In 2024, these challenges are not just growing in number, but also in sophistication, making it imperative for businesses to adopt robust security measures.  In this detailed exploration, we will uncover the trends that have defined email security in 2023 and share the comprehensive solutions that Topsec Cloud Solutions offers to counter these threats effectively in the next 12 months. By Cian Fitzpatrick | 18th January 2024 Topsec’s Key Email Security Trends Observed for 2023 Post-Delivery URL Threats The year marked a significant rise in URLs that initially appear safe but later transform into gateways to malicious websites.  This sophisticated tactic evades conventional security measures, as the harmful nature of the URLs activates only after they have bypassed initial security screenings. This trend underscores the need for more dynamic, real-time security solutions capable of responding to threats as they evolve. In response to this challenge, Topsec’s URL Scanner offers a robust solution by providing real-time scanning of URLs. It effectively identifies and neutralizes threats even after the URLs have been initially cleared, ensuring continuous protection against these evolving cyber threats. Malicious File Shares Increasingly, attackers are embedding malicious content in shared files. These files often appear benign and pass through security checks unnoticed. Once opened, they can unleash malware or lead to data breaches.  This trend highlights the need for more advanced file scanning technologies that can detect hidden threats within shared documents. OneDrive as a Delivery Method The trust placed in OneDrive, due to its integration with Windows, has been exploited by cybercriminals. They use it as a conduit for delivering malware, relying on the inherent trust users have in the platform. This method’s rise in popularity calls for more nuanced security measures that can differentiate between legitimate and malicious OneDrive links. In response to this growing threat, Topsec’s Office 365 Email Security Solutions offer robust protection mechanisms specifically designed to intercept and neutralize such threats before they reach users. By employing advanced scanning technologies, Topsec ensures that only safe, verified content is allowed through, enhancing the security of your digital communications within Office 365. Malicious QR Codes The use of QR codes in emails and attachments as a means to redirect users to harmful websites post-delivery has become more frequent. Known as quishing, these QR codes often change their destination URLs after passing initial security checks, making them a formidable threat to track and neutralise. Impersonation Scams The sophistication of impersonation scams has grown, with attackers expertly mimicking legitimate entities to deceive users. This trend has been exacerbated by the increased use of digital communication, making it harder to distinguish between genuine and fraudulent interactions. Lack of Proper Setup (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) A notable number of organisations still fall short in setting up proper email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM and DMARC.  This oversight leaves them vulnerable to spoofing and phishing attacks. Proper implementation of these protocols is essential for authenticating email sources and maintaining email integrity. Stay a step ahead of malicious actors Get Quote Phishing Awareness Deficit Despite heightened awareness, phishing remains a prevalent threat, with many users still falling victim to these scams. This trend highlights the ongoing need for comprehensive phishing awareness programs that educate users about the subtleties of these attacks and how to avoid them. Multiple Admin Access Issues The practice of multiple administrators having access to a single account has introduced significant security risks. This approach can lead to confusion, oversight, and increased vulnerability to coordinated attacks targeting admin credentials. Supply Chain Compromises Supply chain issues, exacerbated by global economic and geopolitical factors, have led to increased vulnerabilities in email security. These compromises affect organisations at multiple levels and require a more integrated approach to security that considers the entire supply chain. Challenges of Hybrid/Remote Work The shift towards hybrid and remote work models has introduced new challenges in email security. Remote work environments often lack the robust security infrastructure of office settings, making them more susceptible to email-based attacks. Burnout in Cybersecurity The increasing complexity and volume of threats have led to burnout among cybersecurity professionals. This human factor can significantly impact an organisation’s ability to effectively manage and respond to security threats. Direct Forwarding Risks The convenience of direct forwarding features in email systems has been exploited by attackers, leading to security breaches. Attackers manipulate these features to reroute sensitive information, often without the original sender’s knowledge. This trend calls for a more comprehensive monitoring of email flow within organisations to detect and prevent unauthorised forwarding. How Topsec Cloud Solutions Can Help? Inbox Protection Topsec’s advanced Inbox Protect provides a robust defence against the sophisticated threats outlined above. Our solution employs cutting-edge technology for dynamic scanning, real-time threat detection, and adaptive response mechanisms. This approach ensures that emerging threats are identified and neutralised promptly, safeguarding your email communications against the latest tactics used by cybercriminals. VIP Impersonation Stamp Our VIP Impersonation Stamp technology is a game-changer in combating impersonation scams. It employs advanced algorithms to analyse email content and sender information, flagging potential impersonation attempts. This tool is particularly effective in protecting high-profile individuals within organisations, who are often the targets of such attacks. Implementing DMARC/DKIM Implementing DMARC and DKIM protocols is no longer optional but a necessity in today’s digital landscape. Topsec assists organisations in setting up these protocols, ensuring that emails are authenticated at their source and maintaining the integrity of email communications. Our experts guide you through the implementation process, ensuring these protocols are configured correctly to provide maximum protection. Phishing Awareness Programs Awareness is the first line of defence against phishing attacks. Topsec’s comprehensive phishing awareness programs are designed to educate employees on the latest phishing tactics,

What is Spear Phishing?

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What is Spear Phishing? It is considered to be the most potent form of attack, learn how you can prevent these attacks. Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security >Phishing What is Spear Phishing? Among different cyberattacks, spear phishing poses the most potent threat. Unlike standard “Spray and Pray” phishing, spear phishing is a highly targeted and deceptive form of attack. It integrates sophisticated social engineering techniques, often going unnoticed by its target.  In addition, according to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report(ISTR), 65% of attackers relied on spear phishing attacks. So, it’s highly important to understand what spear phishing is to create a protective shield against it. By Cian Fitzpatrick | 16th November, 2023 Spear Phishing Definition Spear phishing is a type of phishing attack that targets highly specific individuals or roles within an organisation to acquire sensitive information. Spear phishing is much more effective than a standard phishing attack. The attacker does intensive research on their target and uses social engineering techniques to craft a message to make it seem to be from a legitimate source. For instance, they collect personal information about a target and send messages disguising themself as a trustworthy friend to acquire sensitive information. Types of Spear Phishing Attacks Some of the major spear phishing types are: 1. Whaling Phishing It is a highly targeted attack that targets high-profile or high-ranking individuals such as C-suite executives or board members. It also involves non-corporate targets such as celebrities or politicians. Attackers aim to fetch large sums of cash or acquire confidential information that can be used against them—no wonder it requires more research than any other form of spear phishing attacks. 2. Business Email Compromise(BEC) CEO Fraud The threat actors impersonate or hack into the email account of a senior executive, typically a CEO. And instruct lower-level employees to wire money into fraudulent accounts by creating a sense of urgency to make them act abruptly. Email Account Compromise(EAC) Attackers gain access to lower-level employees to send fraudulent emails and trick other employees into sharing confidential information. EAC is often used to acquire the credentials of senior executives to perform CEO fraud. Barrel Phishing It is a phishing attack where scammers send emails to a large number of recipients, pretending to be from a legitimate source. The scammers anticipate that at least one recipient will click on the link to steal sensitive information. Try Our Phishing Simulator Now Get Quote How Does Spear Phishing Attack Work? Spear phishing attack works in various stages; they are: Selection of Target Scammers choose individuals or organisations they want to target based on their goals, whether their goal is to gain large sums of money or sensitive information. Use of Reconnaissance Technique Before commencing the attack, the scammer gathers detailed information about the victim using social media platforms. Crafting Email By using gathered information, scammers craft a personalised email to make it look as if it’s from a legitimate source. This causes the target to immediately lower their guard. For instance, it could be a coworker, manager, or a trustworthy friend of the target. Call to Action Fraudulent emails often have a call to action to create a sense of urgency to ensure the attack works 100% of the time. In the heat of the moment, the target will click the link or download an attachment. This action can lead to serious consequences, including identity theft, data breaches, ransomware attacks, corporate espionage, etc. Covering Footprints After the attack, the scammer removes every trace of the attack to evade detection and prolongs access to the system. Common Targets of Spear Phishing Attacks Spear phishing attacks involve detailed research of a high-value or high-profile individual. Even though they are often time-consuming, they yield a higher anticipated reward than standard phishing attacks. Commonly targeted individuals of spear phishing attacks are: High profile individual Scammers target high-profile individuals like CEOs, politicians or celebrities to steal their sensitive information. Lower-level or New Employees Lower-level or newer employees often fall victim to phishing attacks, as they are frequently unaware of policies or procedures they must follow to prevent spear phishing attempts. Specific Group or Types of Employees Scammers target employees with access to sensitive or confidential information, such as HR or finance executives. Learn how you can protect your staff Contact Us Spear Phishing Characteristics Some of the characteristics of spear phishing are: Targeted Recipients Spear phishing employs highly personalised messages to target specific individuals or organisations. These messages focus on high-profile or high-value individuals, promising substantial rewards. Spear phishing targets specific individuals, unlike standard phishing, which targets a high volume of individuals. Personalised Messages Scammers on various social media platforms conduct intensive research on their targets to formulate emails that create a sense of familiarity, often leading to the disclosure of sensitive information. Sophisticated Tactics and Techniques Scammers use reconnaissance and social engineering techniques to carry out spear phishing attacks. The reconnaissance technique involves intensive gathering of information on a target. At the same time, social engineering techniques involve the manipulation of personality traits to make the target perform a certain action. Common Objectives Spear phishing takes on various forms, but the goal remains the same: extracting sensitive information such as credentials or credit card information. Links to Malicious Websites or Files Scammers use phishing emails, which include links to malicious websites or files created by threat actors, to extract sensitive information when recipients click on them. Common Techniques Used in Spear Phishing Attacks Some of the characteristics of spear phishing are: Social Engineering Techniques Spear phishing attacks thrive on social engineering techniques. They manipulate personality traits such as desire to be helpful or curiosity about events or news. Individuals let their guard down easily with this technique, enabling threat actors to leverage the situation to extract sensitive information. Suspicious Emails and Phone Calls Attackers, using generic or misspelt domains in their emails, disguise themselves as legitimate entities to reach out to their targets through emails and phone calls. Malicious Emails with Attachments or Links

What is a DMARC Record?

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What is A DMARC Record? Know the components of a DMARC record and it’s importance  Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security > DMARC What is a DMARC Record? In today’s digital landscape, implementing DMARC records to tackle the rising threat of cyberattacks is of utmost importance. These attacks jeopardise sensitive information and put entities interacting with your company at risk. However, you can eradicate this risk by implementing the DMARC record. These records act as robust shields, instructing recipient servers on handling emails that fail authentication checks. By quarantining or rejecting suspicious emails, it provides a much-needed layer of defence. By Cian Fitzpatrick | 16th November, 2023 What is the Purpose of a DMARC Record? A DMARC record has two main purposes. They are: Instruct the recipient server   It guides the recipient server on what to do if the email fails authentication checks like: Reject the message Quarantine the message Allow the message to continue the delivery       2. Send the reports  Reports are sent to the email address mentioned in the DMARC record about all email activities associated with the domain. What does a DMARC Record Look Like? Creating a DMARC record ensures servers can distinguish between legitimate and fake emails. As a result, it protects against various security threats, such as phishing, spoofing, and spamming. Before getting started, we need to learn about DMARC TXT Record tags. Tags Meaning V It represents the protocol version. For example, v=DMARC1 pct It is the percentage of messages subjected to filtering. It ranges from 0 to 100. ruf It indicates the reporting URL for forensic reports. rua It indicates the reporting URL for aggregate reports p It is the policy for the organisational domain. It includes three types of policy. “p=none”“p=quarantine” “p=reject” sp Policy for a subdomain of the organisational domain. adkim Alignment mode for DKIM. aspf Alignment mode for SPF fo Get email samples for messages that fail SPF and DKIM. You can choose four values; “0” if SPF and DKIM fail (Default) “1” if SPF or DKIM fails “d” DKIM failure “S” SPF failure Try our 7 day free DMARC trial now Sign Up Now What DMARC Record Looks Like? Typically, DMARC records consist of plain text, a list of DMARC tags segregated by semicolons. It consists of atleast three components, but you can add other optional tags as per need. It’s necessary to place “v” and “p” tags at the beginning; other tags can follow any order. To get in-depth insight, let’s break down the example of a DMARC record and learn it piece by piece.  “v=DMARC1; p=none; rua=mailto:dmarc@yourdomain.com” We have three mandatory tags, v, p and rua, with the values DMARC1, none and mailto:dmarc@yourdomain.com. The v tag indicates the version of DMARC. The p tag is the policy that indicates what action the receiver should take if the message fails the authentication checks. The rua tag sends aggregate reports to a specified email. The prefix mailto: should be added before writing an email address.   Based on specific requirements or needs, you can use other tags like pct, ruf, fo, etc.    DMARC Policy: If your message fails the authentication check, you can specify what actions to take in the policy(p) tag. There are 3 types of policy you can choose from: Monitoring Policy (“p=none“) This policy doesn’t give any protection. But emails are constantly monitored. Generally, during the initial implementation process of DMARC, emails are monitored. Gradually, it is upgraded to quarantine and finally reaches the reject stage.   Quarantine Policy(“p=quarantine”) It places emails that fail authentication checks in the spam or quarantine folder.   Reject policy (“p=reject“) It immediately rejects emails that fail the authentication check. It protects against fraudulent mail by not giving a single chance to reach the recipient’s email. Why are DMARC Records Important? DMARC has grown from a mere option to the absolute necessity for email security and protection against cyber attacks such as email spoofing and phishing attacks. With the surge in technology, the threat actors have come up with new sophisticated techniques to steal company identity and deceive customers and employees. By implementing DMARC, you’re defending against constantly lurking threats. Improved Email Delivery Performance Even your legitimate emails may fail to reach the recipient server’s inbox. To amend this, you can use the DMARC record, which helps to identify and fix any authentication issues. As a result, email delivery performance is enhanced. Reduced Phishing and Spoofing Attacks It is a primary defence against cyberattacks like phishing, spoofing, and identity theft. In addition, it helps domain owners prevent unauthorised parties from sending emails on their behalf. It protects not only the company but also the customers associated with it. Enhanced Brand Protection and Reputation Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight, yet a single mistake can cause your brand to crumble like a chain of falling dominoes. Not only will your company suffer, you’ll likely lose hard-earned loyal customers. In addition to that, your reputation will take a direct hit, and sometimes, it’s impossible to build your reputation the way it was. DMARC record prevents bad actors from impersonating your brand’s domain. It ensures that your employees and customers get only legitimate emails. Furthermore, it will enhance your credibility as a brand that prioritises protecting your customers’ interests. Increased Visibility into Email Sending Behaviour The DMARC record provides ongoing data about the use of your domain, and it also aids in identifying threat actors that impersonate your domain. Moreover, the reporting mechanism of DMARC will instantly recognise if someone is misusing your domain. More Control Over How Your Domain is Used Implementing DMARC records in your domain’s DNS enables you to gather information about the entities sending emails on your behalf. DMARC record eradicates this risk and prevents your domain from being used for malicious purposes. Learn how you can be DMARC compliant Contact Us How Does a DMARC Record Work? Before publishing the DMARC record, it’s essential to implement DKIM and SPF protocols. Combining these three

Navigating New DMARC Email Authentication Rules for High-Volume Senders

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Navigating New DMARC Authentication Rules Google and Yahoo have set strict authentication rules for DMARC, know what that means for you Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security > DMARC Navigating New DMARC Authentication Rules for High-Volume Senders Unpack the latest DMARC email authentication requirements set by Gmail and Yahoo for high-volume email senders, exceeding 5,000 daily emails. Discover steps for compliance and best practices for email security. By Cian Fitzpatrick | 7th November, 2023 Understanding Managed Email Security The Evolution of Email Security Standards DMARC is in the news once again. Google recently declared a significant change, setting new requirements to be enforced from February 2024. The new requirements are aimed at entities dispatching over 5,000 emails per day to Gmail accounts.  Yahoo! then followed suit with an announcement of their own requiring email authentication. These two announcements signal an industry-wide shift towards stricter email authentication and management practices.  This article will chiefly examine Gmail’s stipulations, as Yahoo!’s changes mirror this new industry benchmark. Previously, email authentication was advised as a best practice to protect sender domains and prevent misuse within the email ecosystem.  With Gmail’s update, these recommendations have now transitioned into mandatory requirements. With 1.2 billion users situated across the globe, Gmail is the most popular, and the biggest, email provider in the world. And with this new announcement, there is no doubt that the largest email provider in the world is taking a more stringent approach to email security. Key Components and the Importance of DMARC Records DMARC: Not Just Recommended, But Essential A critical change is the mandatory publication of a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) record for those meeting Gmail’s specified email volume.  It’s important to note that while the DMARC record must be published, it does not necessarily need to be set to the enforcement level (p=reject or p=quarantine) initially.  This indicates Gmail’s understanding of the complexities involved in implementing DMARC at a large scale, acknowledging the risk of inadvertently blocking legitimate senders. The implementation of DMARC, despite its complexities, remains a best practice for combating domain spoofing and other abuses. It’s a key strategy in maintaining a secure domain and a trustworthy email environment. Try our 7 day free DMARC trial now Sign Up Now Detailed Look at the Newly Enforced Requirements Mandatory Steps for Compliance For effective compliance with these new standards, high-volume senders should focus on several key areas: Implement Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) for email authentication. Establish a DMARC policy for your sending domain. Tools like Valimail can aid in this setup, guiding senders towards achieving enforcement level. Align the domain in the sender’s “From” header with either the SPF or DKIM domain. Validate sending domains or IPs with accurate forward and reverse DNS (PTR) records. Facilitate one-click unsubscribe features in subscribed messages, ensuring the unsubscribe link is easily noticeable. This method is a proactive step in reducing spam complaints and enhancing recipient trust. Keep spam rates reported in Google Postmaster Tools below 0.3%. Format email messages according to the Internet Message Format standard (RFC 5322).   These new requirements redefine what was once an aspirational goal into a necessary standard for high-volume email senders. Google and Yahoo!’s initiatives are driving the industry towards heightened security measures. Although these changes might introduce some initial challenges, they pave the way towards a more secure and effective email communication framework in the long run. As you navigate the complexities of DMARC email authentication rules, especially for high-volume senders, gaining a comprehensive understanding of DMARC becomes crucial. To deepen your knowledge and ensure full compliance, we strongly recommend reading our detailed guide: “What is DMARC?” This guide provides essential insights and actionable steps for effective DMARC implementation, which is not just recommended but essential. Understanding these details will help you comply with the new standards effectively.  Contact us to help with your email authentication requirements. With more than 20,000 customers, we protect 2 million + email inboxes a day. And we’d be delighted to protect yours too! Learn how you can be DMARC compliant Contact Us

Managed Email Security: Why Your Business Needs It

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Managed Email Security & Why Your Business Needs It Know why a Managed Email Security Service is an add on for your organisation Get a Quote Download Datasheet Email Security Managed Email Security: Why Your Business Needs It In the digital age, our email inboxes serve as the vital gateway to our organisations. Enter Managed Email Security. However, the ever-evolving landscape of email attacks, which has grown both in sophistication and volume, poses a significant threat. Shockingly, over 91% of cyberattacks commence with a phishing email, underscoring the urgency of robust email security measures. By Cian Fitzpatrick | 31st October, 2023 Understanding Managed Email Security Managed Services for Email Security represent comprehensive solutions provided by third-party vendors to bolster your organisation’s email security. These services aim to relieve the burden on your in-house teams and leverage industry-leading email security practices. This guide delves deep into the realm of managed email security services, offering insights to help your email security evolve. Levels of Email Security by Managed Services 1. Business Hours Coverage Most vendors offer Managed Services for Email Security at two levels, catering to your organisation’s specific needs and engagement goals: 2. Full-time Coverage With business hours coverage, email security services are active during standard office hours, providing protection for nine hours a day, five days a week. Beyond these hours, the vendor typically relies on its email protection and security software products. Full-time coverage ensures email security round the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, irrespective of office hours or non-working days. This level of coverage includes operational and strategic support, along with 24×7 incident management through a dedicated security operations centre (SOC). Organisations have the flexibility to choose the coverage level that aligns with their email security requirements. Services Offered by Managed Email Security Providers Managed service providers for email security offer a range of services aimed at fortifying your email security infrastructure: 1. Email Protection Emails are critical conduits of business communication, often carrying sensitive information in the form of attachments and files. Email Protection encompasses various measures, including inbound email authentication, spam policy creation, anti-spoof management, and user directory monitoring, among others. 2. Inbound Filtering Inbound spam filters play a pivotal role in sorting out spam emails, ensuring secure and manageable inboxes. These filters employ advanced techniques like locality-sensitive hashing and heuristics to identify and block spam messages effectively. 3. Outbound Filtering Outbound mail filtering scrutinises emails sent by internal users before dispatch, applying content and malware checks. This proactive approach safeguards against unintentional data leaks and ensures that only safe emails reach their destination. 4. Advanced Threat Protection Managed services extend advanced threat protection (ATP) as part of their email security solutions. ATP safeguards sensitive data against phishing campaigns, malware, and other cyber threats, providing real-time threat visibility and endpoint security. 5. Email Encryption Email encryption services protect your emails and critical information from cyber threats like malware and phishing. By employing techniques like DKIM, SPF, and DMARC authentication, these services identify and block phishing emails, enhancing your email security. 6. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Outbound mail filtering scrutinises emails sent by internal users before dispatch, applying content and malware checks. This proactive approach safeguards against unintentional data leaks and ensures that only safe emails reach their destination. 7. Compliance Control Email security compliance is crucial for safeguarding electronic communications. Managed services providers monitor, enforce policies, and conduct regular email audits to maintain the confidentiality of your organisation’s data. 8. Analysis, Review & Reporting Managed email security services go beyond protection, offering ongoing software maintenance, health checks, and support. They provide valuable reports, including incident tracking, executive-level reporting, and monitoring summaries, essential for informed decision-making. Conclusion: Ensure Email Security Email security is paramount for your organisation’s well-being. Partnering with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) ensures top-tier security and protection against unauthorised access, data breaches, and email security threats. Managed Services take the responsibility of maintaining, managing, and monitoring your email technologies, allowing your team to focus on core business operations. It’s time to prioritise email security and evolve your approach to safeguarding your digital communication. Managed Email FAQ’s Is there a difference between regular email and secure email? Regular email lacks additional security features and checks, making it susceptible to threats. Secure email offers enhanced security measures, such as data processing and the ability to block suspicious emails and files. Why should I invest in email security? The return on investment in email security depends on factors like licences, package choice, and contract duration. Remember, the cost of a business data breach far outweighs the investment in email security. What are some common email threats today? Common email threats include phishing, spam, business email compromise, malware, ransomware, and DDoS attacks. What is email encryption in transit? Email encryption in transit ensures that emails are unreadable to anyone other than the intended recipient. Transport Layer Security (TLS) is the standard method for email encryption in transit. Do encrypted emails still pose a security threat? While encryption protects email content, it doesn’t safeguard against all online threats. Other vulnerabilities, like account hacking, can still pose risks. Learn how our team can keep your data safe Contact Us