7 Cloud Email Security Platform Essentials

Learn the 7 key capabilities a cloud email security platform should have in order to address and resolve common email security challenges.
November 10, 2022

While every organization has unique requirements for cloud email security, innovative enterprises recognize the universal need for a solution to block the increasing threat of socially-engineered attacks and other malicious attacks that bypass legacy platforms.

These organizations understand that while using a cloud-based infrastructure yields significant benefits in terms of collaboration and agility, it also creates additional points of entry for attackers to exploit. For example, integrations between the organization’s ecosystem and third-party apps can streamline workflows, but they can also create side channels that threat actors can use to gain unauthorized access.

For that reason, the right platform provides advanced inbound email attack protection, offers tools to improve end-user productivity, and tackles the need to secure email infrastructure across each of its various entry points. However, because many vendors claim to offer this cloud email security functionality, it can be challenging to distinguish marketing language from reality.

In a previous blog post, we outlined seven common obstacles security teams face due to the shortcomings of legacy technology. In this post, we’ll explore the seven key capabilities a cloud email security platform should include in order to address these challenges.

Critical Capabilities for Cloud Email Security

1. API-based Approach to Integrating with the Cloud Office

Internal organizational context is crucial for detecting lateral attacks that exploit trusted relationships between employees.

Your cloud email security solution must have full visibility into both north-south and east-west traffic in order to analyze anomalies within email content. It should also be able to ingest large sets of data from multiple products and services, enhancing visibility into identity and relationship data to drive detection efficacy.

An API-based approach allows a cloud email security solution to develop an internal organizational understanding of known good by utilizing a vast amount of data—beyond just email message content.

2. Ability to Proactively Detect and Mitigate Supply Chain Risks

Along with employees, your vendors represent one of the greatest risks to your organization’s security.

A cloud email security platform should be able to build an understanding of how vendors interact with an organization—including invoicing cadence, communication frequency, key contacts, years of relationship, and more. It must use knowledge engines to query and organize information about vendors and then create behavioral profiles for each organization. Finally, the solution should utilize federated risk signals from hundreds of organizations to help defend against vendor account compromise.

With this functionality, the platform can detect behavioral anomalies in vendor communications and, in turn, prevent financial supply chain compromise.

3. Risk-Adaptive Approach to Detection

A reactive approach to threat detection that relies on known-bad indicators of compromise is no longer sufficient.

Intelligent cloud email security solutions combine natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU) of inbound email content with tens of thousands of signals about user identity and behavior to provide a risk-adaptive approach to threat detection. The platform analyzes sequences of events against context to detect never-before-seen threats and remediates inbound email attacks when anomalies are detected.

Rather than forcing security teams into a reactive posture, the solution helps teams adopt a proactive approach against evolving threats with a solution that is constantly learning and adapting.

4. Automated and Instantaneous Remediation of Malicious Emails

The longer a malicious email sits in an employee’s inbox, the higher the likelihood of that employee engaging with it.

A cloud email security platform should remove threats from user inboxes with automated and instantaneous remediation—with no rules, policies, or configuration needed. It should reduce reliance on security awareness training for end users and minimize the burden on the SOC team by automating the review of and response to user-reported emails.

By eliminating dwell time, the platform removes the possibility of employees engaging with malicious emails.

5. Automatic Detection and Mitigation of Employee Account Takeovers

A single compromised account can be used to launch a cascade of additional attacks, which makes preventing account takeover essential.

Your cloud email security solution must be able to baseline normal behavior for every end user. It should analyze signals including login frequency, authentication methods, locations, devices, operating systems, browsers, and more, and then use this information to uncover subtle anomalies to precisely detect compromised accounts. Then, it must remediate messages sent from compromised accounts and disarm compromised users before attackers can do further damage.

A platform that can automatically detect and stop account takeovers prevents attackers from abusing compromised accounts to carry out lateral phishing campaigns.

6. Smart Filtering of Spam and Graymail

Employees spend hours every week deleting and sorting spam and excessive promotional mail (also known as graymail).

An innovative cloud email security platform applies the same advanced behavioral AI, NLP, and NLU that help detect and remediate the most sophisticated email-borne attacks to the challenge of time-wasting email. It utilizes an API-based approach to surface unique productivity insights on user engagement, open rates, folder movements, and the productivity and time impact of limiting graymail on the business. It also maintains a native experience—eliminating the need for end-user quarantines or digest summaries.

Effective graymail management improves executive and employee productivity by removing unwanted promotional mail from the inbox.

7. Ability to Protect the Cloud Email Platform From Unauthorized Access

While inbound email attacks are a primary concern, threat actors have additional avenues for gaining unauthorized access that enterprises need to be aware of.

Your cloud email security solution should offer visibility into the configuration of the cloud email platform and any potential risk exposures. It should monitor for configuration drift in the email environment, acknowledge posture changes—whether positive or negative—and notify administrators of risk.

Addressing these additional potential vulnerabilities secures your enterprise from emerging side-channel attacks targeting cloud email platforms.

Selecting the Right Security Solution

To maximize the impact of your email security platform, ensure that it offers superior protection against all types of email attacks, provides opportunities to improve end-user productivity, and can secure email infrastructure across all entry points.

When combined with the ability to detect and automatically remediate compromised accounts, the right solution will protect your employees, environment, and organization as well as save time for your security team.

To learn more about cloud email security and how to choose the right security partner, download The Essential Guide to Cloud Email Security.

7 Cloud Email Security Platform Essentials

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