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Strengthening Business Cybersecurity with Secure Email Gateways (SEGs)

Last updated: 06 Jan 2024

The increase in cybercrimes in recent years has caused shutdowns to many businesses or faced legal consequences. Small businesses are frequent targets due to their limited cybersecurity resources to combat attacks. A simple and quick way of these attacks is through emails, the primary communication tool for most businesses. 

Forbes reports that email is still the preferred method of cybercriminals in 2023, with 75% of organizations worldwide reporting an attempted business email compromise. The average cost of the most expensive e-mail-based attack worldwide was around $1.5 million. Email threats, such as phishing scams, spoofing attacks, malware, and ransomware, are just a few potential hazards lurking in your inbox.  

Organizations have implemented robust email security strategies to combat the growing number of phishing attacks, causing devastating consequences from financial loss to reputational damage. This roadmap guides you to understanding Secure Email Getaways (SEG) to strengthen your cybersecurity posture. To start your strategy, we’ll uncover SEG basics, benefits, and best practices. 

What Are Secure Email Gateways?

Secure Email Getaway filters and protects your incoming and outgoing emails from potential threats. Its primary objectives are: 

  • Detecting and blocking malicious emails. 
  • Preventing spam and unwanted emails from clogging your inbox. 
  • Ensuring email communication complies with security policies and regulations. 

These solutions act as your first line of defense between your email system and the digital world, intercepting potentially harmful emails before they reach your inbox. 

How SEGs Work?

SEGs use a multi-layered approach to ensure only safe and legitimate emails get through your inbox. 

  1. Email Filtering: SEGs utilize advanced filtering algorithms to identify, sort, and manage emails that are malicious or could be spam.
  2. Content Scanning: Emails are meticulously scanned for threats like malicious links, attachments, or contents that could infiltrate your system.
  3. Heuristic analysis: This function analyzes suspicious email content using specific words or phrases(e.g., urgent, verification required, free, your account has been compromised, etc.)
  4. Encryption: Encryption serves as a defense mechanism, protecting the confidentiality of email messages by transforming readable data into unreadable, preventing unauthorized access. This is particularly beneficial for sensitive information shared through email, like financial records, bank details, personal identification, etc.
  5. Logging: This function records sent and received emails to help you track and investigate suspicious activities. It enables swift identification and response to email threats and provides an audit trail for compliance purposes.
  6. Reporting: This feature generates a detailed report of your email traffic. These reports can assist you in identifying trends, tracking security incidents, and uncovering areas where you could enhance your security posture.

Key Features and Components of SEGs

  1. Antivirus Scanning: It examines incoming and outgoing emails for malicious emails from various threats, including viruses, worms, ransomware, and spyware. 
  2. Anti-phishing measures: It identifies suspicious emails susceptible to phishing scams and blocks them before they reach your inbox. Phishing scams are deceptive emails tricking recipients into revealing personal information or credentials. 
  3. Sandboxing: This feature diverts suspicious emails from your inbox in an isolated “sandbox” environment. In this environment, emails can be examined without posing any risk to your actual systems and neutralize them before they cause harm. 
  4. User Authentication: This feature verifies the identity of a user attempting to access an email account by using credentials like usernames and passwords or more advanced methods such as biometrics or multi-factor authentication. 
  5. Email hygiene: This feature maintains a clean and secure email list by regularly checking and removing invalid addresses, preventing bounce-backs, and reducing the risk of your emails being marked as spam. 

Benefits of Implementing Secure Email Gateways

Implementing secure email gateways enhances email security by proactively identifying and blocking suspicious emails to reduce the risk of phishing and malware attacks. By preventing cyberattacks, SEGs save your business from potentially crippling expenses related to data breaches and system repairs. They also improve employee productivity and email efficiency by streamlining email management. 

Implementing Secure Email Gateways: Best Practices

  1. Understand Your Requirements: When implementing SEGs, a clear understanding of your email security needs and objectives is essential in developing the right strategy. Factors such as the types of sensitive information you handle, the volume of email traffic, and industry-specific compliance requirements should all be considered to align your SEG solution with all your requirements. 
  2. Choose the Right SEG Provider: The right SEG provider will make all the difference in your email security posture. Develop a list of providers and evaluate their capabilities, track records, and offered features. Choose a provider offering robust threat detection capabilities and responsive customer support. 
  3. Configure Your SEG: Proper configuration of your SEG is essential for optimal performance. Tailor the settings with your organization’s specific security policies and requirements. Set up email filtering rules, define acceptable content and attachments, and establish protocols for handling suspicious emails. 
  4. Integrate With Your Existing Infrastructure: Your SEG should be compatible with your email platform for hassle-free implementation. Integrate your existing email infrastructure to prevent disruptions to your email communication. 
  5. Test Your SEG: Test the effectiveness of SEG in detecting and blocking threats by simulating various types of email-based attacks, such as phishing attempts, spam, malware, and suspicious attachments. This process will help identify the weaknesses in your SEG’s security measures and finetune your process before full deployment. 
  6. Train Your Team: Conduct training on recognizing and reporting suspicious emails and how SEG protects your email environment. Educate your team on best email security practices, as human factors are crucial in maintaining email security. 
  7. Monitor and Adjust: Continuously monitor and improve your SEG’s performance by reviewing logs, reports, and security alerts in identifying issues or emerging threats. Be prepared to make adjustments to your SEG configuration or policies based on changing security needs and the evolving threat landscape. An adaptive approach ensures that your email security remains effective over time. 

The collaboration between secure email gateways and employees is essential for comprehensive cybersecurity. While gateways provide automated protection, employees are critical in detecting and reporting threats, raising security awareness, and helping to adapt security measures to the evolving threat landscape. By incorporating both important elements, organizations can establish a more resilient and effective defense against email-based cyber threats. 

Let BlackPoint IT help secure your business’s email communications with a robust Secure Email Gateway. Our cybersecurity experts ensure your SEG is well-integrated and finetuned to meet your needs. Contact us to learn more about our cybersecurity solutions. 


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