Emails Could Be Infecting Your System

Emails Could Be Infecting Your System

Emails look harmless, but may be infecting your system

After the mobile phone, email has become one of the most significant inventions for personal and business use. Today, over 316 billion emails are sent in a day, with an estimated total of 2.4 million emails a second. Unfortunately, the mass communication of email is open to exploitation, with many cybercriminals attempting to infect your system.

Nowadays most professionals will understand that emails aren’t safe formats of communication. They are often carriers of malware which can compromise the performance of your computer and steal your data.

In addition, you may be overlooking the number of phishing emails and infected messages you receive on the daily. When viruses infect your workplace system, they can compromise your business’ sensitive data, causing catastrophe.

This is why having the ability able to stop and identify a harmful email, or other email-borne cyberattack can be so valuable. So, in this article, we explain how infected emails can lead to huge losses for your business and how you can protect your assets from exploitation.

Infected emails causing global disaster

According to research, there are more than ten different types of threat which can affect a computer each time an email is opened. These could be in the form of malicious attachments, suspicious website links, and uncommon schemes/enticements.

A clear example would be the Anna Kournikova worm. It made its appearance in an email to a company based in Europe with the subject line “Here you are…” and an attachment entitled “AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs.” Once downloaded, the bug quickly infected your system and clogged up the email drive, which severely impacted productivity. It also sent itself to other computers, clogging more email systems across the Atlantic to the US. Although the Anna Kournikova worm didn’t harm systems drastically, there are many email-borne viruses which can cause enormous damage to organisations.

Another infamous virus was the Love Bug worm. First sent through an email to a company in the Philippines with the subject line “ILOVEYOU,” it had an attachment called “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs.” Upon download, the worm set about destroying the system inside-out, overwriting files, destroying graphics, and sending copies of itself across thousands of email IDs. Within a few months’ time, the virus had cost damages worth US$5.5–8.7 billion worldwide. It then took another $15 billion to remove the worm from the 50 million systems it had infected globally.

How do email-borne cyberattacks affect organisations?

Emails are more prone to virus infection and cyberattacks compared to other forms of technology because of the lack of proper screening filters. Often, these email systems follow the reputation-based and signature-based security protocols. This allows hackers to bypass such traditional email protection systems with sophistication. Some hackers have also designed malware which escapes detection by the latest anti-virus technology.

Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of spear phishing incidents. This is where viruses and malware infect your system through emails from trusted sources. Therefore, with spear fishing it can be extremely difficult to detect which messages are genuinely safe and which aren’t.

The sad reality is that most anti-virus programs are designed to prevent attacks from only known malware. And commonly, most organisations find themselves vulnerable to new viruses and malware each day.

Protecting organisational cyber assets from infected emails and malware attacks

Luckily, there are ways to reduce your vulnerability to email-borne malware attacks. Here we have listed some of the key practices and precautions you should be implementing to protect your business:

Install top-quality email filters

Strong email filters are a quick, easy addition to safeguarding your data and keeping business systems safe. With good email filters you can put in place strict security measures which can deflect malware-ridden emails.

Often these added filters are necessary to heighten your cybersecurity, as built-in email security is outdated and ineffective against new malware. Some email filters can even alarm the system to protect itself against attack.

Regularly change email passwords

Always use multiple passwords for email accounts, as this adds significant protection to your system, and defends it from hackers. You should also be regularly changing your passwords every 2-3 months. Even small changes in password characters can make a real difference in safeguarding your systems.

Set in place stringent managerial controls

Top management should be doing everything they can to put in place a workplace environment of cyber awareness with a strong cybersecurity policy. This will include regular training on cyber safety to instil confidence and encourage communication between employees. Senior staff should also help ensure that every employee on every level of the organisation is aware of healthy email cybersecurity practices.

Never open any suspicious looking emails

If an email looks weird or too good to be true, you should be treating it as suspicious. In these cases, never open any links or attachments until you have confirmed with the source it claims to originate from.

Don’t panic if it seems to be from your boss or a senior colleague, as its okay to not answer an email or look at an attachment once. Remember, if it’s an important or urgent email, the sender will find another way to get in contact with you. Ignoring suspicious emails could save your organisation from suffering millions in damages.

Secure the hardware and software components of your mail system

Strong hardware and software are key to strengthening your mail system’s security and protecting your inbox from infected emails. You must be implementing data authentication software, secure mail server applications, mailbox authentication and PKI technology to boost your email system’s protection.

Reach out to an expert for cybersecurity support

Since 2008, totality services have been providing London’s small to medium businesses with end-to-end IT services. With everything from purchasing and installing hardware, to providing Mac & Windows support, cloud solutions, and data backup, we closely manage business IT systems and security. We deliver robust, high-quality IT services to our clients by using IT security practices that blue-chip companies take for granted.

We consistently achieve excellent client satisfaction thanks to a process-driven approach, concise documentation, and our team of friendly and highly trained London based IT Support engineers. So, if you would like to learn more about how to protect your email systems and what cybersecurity services we can offer, please reach out to one of our experts today!