Using Email Filtering to Defend Against Malware

The world of malware changes on a constant basis. What was safe just a few months or weeks ago can now be dangerous, and it’s difficult for business owners and their teams to keep up. With just the click of a mouse, malware can infiltrate your system, damaging your hardware, stealing data, or disabling your system. One of the ways you can protect your staff and your systems from malware is by using a high-quality email filter.

Why to Use Email Filtering

Did you know that more than 90% of cyber-attacks originate from emails? While many spam emails are obviously not legit—the poorly written content and name of the sender are quick tip-offs that you have a potentially dangerous message in your inbox—some are well-crafted and can easily pass as legit. This is one of the reasons why training your team on security awareness is so important. Even with proper training, your team members can still make the mistake of clicking on a link they aren’t supposed to and opening up your system to malware and ransomware. That’s where email filtering comes in.

What is Malware?

We discussed the topic of what malware is in-depth in a previous blog. To sum up, malware is short for malicious software and the term is used to describe any type of software that is designed to damage devices, steal data, or cause problems with your system. There are numerous types of malware, including adware, spyware, ransomware, trojans, and worms. Malware is constantly evolving, which is why it can often be difficult to keep up on training and identifying what types of messages might be dangerous.

What is Email Filtering?

Think of email filters like your security guards against malware. A good email filter can capture and quarantine spam messages. They do this by identifying email blasts (emails sent out to multiple recipients), suspicious file types, and attachments. Though legit messages can be caught by these filters and end up in your spam folder, it’s pretty easy to glance through them once a week or so to retrieve any messages that were mistakenly identified as spam.

A filter can also scan for malicious code in executable files, zip files, and documents—all before they are opened. This proactive service keeps you and your employees from downloading dangerous files and also saves you the time and energy it takes to reach out to the sender to make sure they really sent you a file. Once the scan deems the file safe, you can go ahead and open it without fear.

Do I Need Extra Email Filtering?

If you use one of the popular email services such as Gmail, you already have spam and antivirus filters. But is it enough? Probably not. The Gmail filters can’t delete attached files if they deem them dangerous, but other email services can. In addition, a good extra filter will not only scan for phishing scams and malware, but it will also identify and block suspicious URLs. They also offer customized reporting and enhanced detection capabilities on top of what was just mentioned. The service we use for security-focused clients is called Barracuda Essentials. It has a ton of add-ons including journaling and archiving for those who need to keep records for compliance purposes, machine learning/AI for even more filtering, message encryption, and detailed logging of emails for troubleshooting purposes. Malware is a tricky and insidious attacker. Implementing multiple ways to protect against it is always the best plan of action. When you incorporate email filtering into your protection plan, you develop one more layer of security to keep your company safe.

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