What is email security and how to protect from CEOs and CFOs fraud?
Importance of Email Security
Emails are a crucial mode of communication for most firms, especially in today’s extreme business climate. As a result, it is not surprising that they have become a primary conduit used by hackers to target their victims. According to F5 Labs (the threat intelligence arm of application service provider F5), phishing occurrences climbed by a stunning 220% during the peak Covid-19 period.
Fake President Fraud Emails
‘Fake President’ or ‘President Fraud’ emails are a prevalent sort of assault. Cybercriminals use an organization’s domain to mimic high-level officials such as CEOs or CFOs in this form of a phishing attack. President fraud emails generally portray a feeling of urgency, prompting workers to provide critical information, click on dangerous links, or even pay fictitious invoices.
In an email spoofing or impersonation attack, attackers disguise themselves as known or trusted individuals so that their email lures in the victim. Such an attack is a subset of protect domain from phishing, which also uses emails from unknown or untrustworthy senders (like that wealthy uncle you never heard of before).
While Fake President emails have caused the greatest damage, there are numerous other types of email impersonation, such as those claiming to be from a supplier demanding invoice payments, or a client requesting that you simply click on a link or fill out a form.
Emails impersonating someone from your firm pose a risk to your organization, as well as to your clients and business partners if your employees fall for them.
Ways to Prevent Email Spoofing
The minimization or complete erasure of email spoofing can be accomplished using basic protection measures such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, which give extra security and prevent your domain from being impersonated and misused for fraudulent purposes.
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication mechanism that allows a domain owner to determine which mail servers can deliver emails from their domain. The SPF record provides information on who is permitted to send emails on your behalf. If an unauthorized party attempts to send an email from your domain, the receiving email server either rejects or labels the email as spam based on the SPF record.
The DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) standard is intended to ensure that email contents are not altered during transit. The email is electronically signed by the transmitting email server to ensure its validity. Some email security service provider (for example, Gmail or Microsoft Office 365) employ DKIM by default to sign emails, whereas others require it to be activated manually.
Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) adds an extra layer of protection by advising email servers on what to do if an email fails SPF and DKIM authentication tests. When the DMARC policy is in place, inbound email is subject to SPF and DKIM authentication tests.
If the email passes either of the above tests, it is delivered to the recipient’s inbox. DMARC rules allow you to reject or quarantine (label as spam) all communications that fail DMARC tests. The protocol also provides a monitoring mechanism where the receiving email server can be instructed to generate DMARC reports containing details of emails that fail authentication checks. These are then sent back to the sending domain. Therefore, by having DMARC Email Authentication implemented, you will be able to detect and prevent fraudulent emails from being sent using your domain.
Although SPF is installed in the majority of the sample businesses, DMARC is used by far fewer organizations. Enforcing DMARC alongside SPF can dramatically enhance email security. Furthermore, establishing SPF and DMARC in such a manner that an email server can reject suspicious emails (i.e. a strong SPF/DMARC policy) decreases the risk and should thus be enforced.
Methods to Implement Security Protocols
SPF and DMARC can be implemented with little effort while most email providers already have basic DKIM protection in place. These policies go a long way in protecting your email infrastructure and ultimately your organization.
Both these mechanisms can be set up by publishing certain DNS (Domain Name System) records. They are a set of instructions that are published and publicly visible for all domains (such as qwerty.com). These records instruct servers on how to interact with your domain. SPF and DMARC records provide information on how to handle emails sent using your domain.
Usually, a technical person can publish the required SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records to the DNS server through your hosting provider, a service provider that enables you to set up websites on the internet. For example, Cloudflare, GoDaddy, etc. EmailAuth’s DMARC, SPF, and DKIM generators help you create the correct email security DNS records with helpful tutorials based on your hosting provider. Even though these protections are not fool-proof they can make your domain less susceptible to impersonation attacks or email fraud.