5 Elements of Successful Email Monitoring

New platforms, applications, and technologies have come and gone over the years, but email has remained a ubiquitous form of business communication—and the primary attack vector for malware, according to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report. For managed services providers (MSPs), ensuring customers’ inboxes are protected from increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks and hacking attempts is critical to helping prevent catastrophic data breaches and other forms of damage.

Email activity monitoring solutions are essential for protecting your customers’ end users from complex phishing attempts, social engineering attacks, and malware. The earlier a threat is detected, the easier it is to mitigate the damage and keep your customers’ networks and employees safe.

Additionally, the Verizon report found that 30% of security breaches originate from employees within an organization. Email monitoring tools are an incredibly useful safeguard for identifying potential internal bad actors and careless end users who need to brush up on their security training. By scanning both inbound and outbound messages for signs of suspicious activity, email monitoring tools can help to maximize email security and prevent insider threats.

Tactics associated with successful email monitoring strategies

An email monitoring solution can make a huge difference in your organization and for your customers. However, it’s important the email threat protection solution you choose enables a successful email monitoring strategy. Regardless of what solution you choose to implement, it’s important that your software and your strategy makes use of these five key elements:

1. Risk detection

Perhaps the most obvious role email activity monitors must fulfill is risk detection. By identifying potentially malicious emails, these tools not only help harden your customers’ networks against cyberthreats, they can sometimes also help identify internal behavior that could compromise company security. Employees who share nonessential information about the company without authorization—whether that means with people outside the company or with other employees—might one day expose confidential or sensitive data that puts the business at risk.

Email monitoring can assist MSPs in identifying these behavior patterns, which can shed light on what other practices need to be incorporated into their customers’ data security strategies.

2. Best practices and policy enforcement

Teaching end users good security awareness practices plays a crucial, and often-overlooked, role in effectively preventing data breaches. That said, end user training loses its value and effectiveness if no secondary checks exist to verify employees are following best practices, or a desired change in behavior has gone into effect. For example, MSPs can work with their customers to simulate phishing attempts and test end users’ ability to recognize and report suspicious messages.

Email monitoring can also help ensure employees adhere to company policies. For instance, many employers institute policies stating that company email should be used for business purposes only and email monitoring can grant visibility into how well end users are operating in accordance with these guidelines. The goal here is to minimize the opportunities and vulnerabilities available to cyberattackers. Furthermore, companies are likely to struggle with implementing effective data security strategies without a method to monitor internal email and business communications,.

3. Compliance auditing and reporting

The most effective email monitoring strategies will also include protocols for reporting and potentially help with demonstrating compliance. These protocols are especially beneficial for MSPs whose customers work in public relations, customer service, highly regulated industries, and other market sectors that involve regular outgoing email contact and engagement with their own clients and customers.

Email monitoring can help streamline the auditing process, as well as helping to prove that businesses and their service providers are in compliance with industry-specific regulations. Monitoring email, and other primary communication methods, is foundational to helping prevent the exchange of sensitive or confidential information that could be leveraged for financial gain. Furthermore, honest mistakes happen in the course of daily operations, and email activity monitors have the potential to provide an audit trail showing where these mistakes occur, as well as operating as also key evidence if malicious intent occurred.

4. Encryption and archiving

Encrypting and archiving email records factors into compliance audits and reporting. It’s important to make sure emails remain encrypted and tamper-proof so auditors have a proper record. If policy violations are detected, the emails in question not only function as the basis for the company’s response to the violation, but they can also provide auditors with documentation regarding how you and your customers manage security events and regulatory issues.

Automatic encrypted email archiving is also an incredibly valuable service that MSPs should be providing to help prevent data loss. Long-term email archiving enables access to long-term storage of old messages—meaning your customers don’t have to worry about losing important communications. The records remain available and can be searched and managed as needed without cluttering up end users’ inboxes.

5. Email filtering and security

Cyberthreats can take many forms—including malware, social engineering, spam, spear phishing, spoofing, and viruses—but all it takes is one wrong click to bring down an entire network. End user training goes a long way toward minimizing the risk of cyberattacks successfully landing, but mistakes can happen, especially considering bad actors’ techniques have become increasingly sophisticated and convincing. For this reason, in addition to risk detection, email monitoring strategies need to include filtering and security capabilities.

Email filtering systems should use threat definition databases that are regularly updated to stay relevant against well-known email-based threats. They also should utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify suspicious behavior and protect against emerging threats. Some of these systems are able to track which quarantined emails end users are viewing, deleting, and block-listing or allow-listing; then, they can use that data to update threat definition databases and refine the approach of pattern-based detection features.

An efficient and affordable approach to email security

N-able Mail Assure provides MSPs with a robust set of email filtering, security, and archiving tools designed to help ensure business continuity and provide multilayer protection. Drawing on insights and behavior patterns gathered from a base of more than 23 million inboxes across 2 million domains, Mail Assure leverages machine learning to update your customers’ threat definitions for inbound and outbound emails in real time. This combination of threat intelligence and security features allows Mail Assure to provide MSPs—and their customers—with 99.999% filtering accuracy.

Not only that, Mail Assure also offers built-in, round-the-clock email business continuity services through an intuitive web console. This helps ensure your customers will be able to send and receive messages even if their primary email server is down. It also helps prevent further business disruptions in the wake of both scheduled and unanticipated downtime.

Other Mail Assure features include automatic encryption and email archiving with unlimited retention periods, as well as seamless integration with Microsoft 365. Your customers using Microsoft 365 as their email platform can take advantage of additional security safeguards and efficiency improvements to augment the Microsoft 365 native features.

Mail Assure provides powerful and affordable email security features that are critical to any effective email monitoring strategy. MSPs will have the tools they need to provide their customers protection from known and newly discovered threat vectors. Mail Assure also makes it possible to provide support, remediation, and damage mitigation in response to cybersecurity events. To discover how N-able Mail Assure uses collective threat intelligence and machine learning to provide highly effective email security and continuity solutions, sign up for a free trial of Mail Assure today.

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