Anti-spam: 8 benefits for corporate use

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Emails have gained a great space in corporate communications in recent years, and regardless of the increasing use of instant messaging technologies, many formalizations end up being requested or performed by e-mail. In this way, for many important activities, e-mail presents itself as a communication standard.

As any service widely used, emails have easily become the target of malicious people and companies, sending unsolicited advertisements and even illegal activities in which phishing is prevalent.

According to statistics from the cert.br, there were 735,262 thousandspams reported throughout the year 2014. There are a frightening number if we assume that the vast majority of people and companies do not generate notifications to specialized institutions. In fact, most companies are unaware of such a possibility.

Advertisements and attacks that use e-mail as a means of dissemination are often opportunistic rather than directed. The first case means working with a very large number of mailing list, knowing that rate of opening and clicks are small. Considering a rate of efficiency at 0.1% in a list of 10 million contacts, a potential number of 10,000 is reached, which can be very interesting for the issuers.

Targeted attacks, on the other hand, generally use e-mail as an approach platform, having behind social engineering techniques to facilitate the recipient to open the message. In these cases, one can even use false senders acting as legitimate ones, in order to obtain information to commit the most varied types of fraud. Usually more dangerous attacks, although they occur in much smaller scale.

Large providers offering email to their users have high processing capacity and identification of anomalous behaviors to protect them, so in many cases the structure of the anti-spam is quite efficient, as in the case of Gmail.

Companies, governments and other entities that have their own structures through market products or internally developed solutions have a high incidence of unsolicited messages or spam, and if the protection mechanisms are not properly updated with characteristics compatible with the techniques currently used, they may have much to lose in many respects.

In this post, we will bring 8 benefits an anti-spam solutioncan bring to corporate communication through e-mails, allowing efficient, risk-free use.

1. Anti-spam for increased productivity and email management

Who ever got to work and came across a series of emails sent by unknown senders in the inbox? This could be an extinct problem, but this is not the reality since it is common for people to waste a lot of time with the selection and disposal of unwanted e-mail.

Regardless of this operation using the person’s time, there is a potential even greater problem: the massive removal of emails, without proper analysis of contents. Many people end up adopting such a practice to avoid wasting time and often end up removing valid emails, which can lead to great inconvenience.

The risk of removing a legitimate email in the middle of the junk ones is large, and depending on the case, it can bring serious problems to the company. Revising carefully each email will impact directly on productivity, and in addition, you have the risks associated with the content, see item 2.

A properly configured anti-spam solution ensures that most legitimate emails arrive in the users’ mailbox and prevents unsolicited emails from hitting the day-to-day running of such a powerful corporate communication platform.

2. Anti-spam for protecting your emails from phishing attacks

One of the biggest problems with email is the phishing, which is a technique with which fraudsters try to pretend as another person or organization in order to get privileged data from users and companies. Antispam can substantially increase security by preventing these emails from reaching the users’ mailbox.

Moreover, even if a user clicks on a link to download some malicious content, other security solutions must act in a complementary way to ensure the fraud is ineffective. Since most addresses refer to web page access, a properly configured proxy should prevent users even in the case of clicking some link, but not actually having access to that content. For more information, see the article Web Proxy: Concepts, Types and Terminologies.

In addition to anti-spam and proxy, it is essential that the company also have a good endpoint security policy, with properly updated antivirus. With these three layers, the success of a phishing is reduced considerably without compromising company, user, and in many cases the equipment unavailability for reinstallations.

3. Bandwidth savings with cloud-based antispam

An interesting benefit not directly associated with the anti-spam service, but that ends up bringing positive points to the user company, is the possibility of using a cloud solution. The direct benefit is considerable bandwidth and processing savings involved in unsolicited messages.

In a traditional architecture where anti-spam is located in the company structure, there is consumption of internet link and machine resources for processing spam. Depending on the volume, this can have really good savings.

The cloud-based format, on the other hand, sends the company’s e-mail service only what was not considered spam, considerably saving the traffic of unwanted e-mail, allowing optimization of the internet resource.

4. Decentralization of spam quarantine management

One of the complex aspects in managing many information technology sectors is to treat spam for all users in the company. It really is a rather complicated task, and having accounts that centralize spam content can be a big mistake depending on the company’s security guidelines.

Corporate anti-spam should offer a feature that provides decentralized management of unsolicited messages if security policy permits it. In this way, the user manage totally or partially the emails classified as SPAM.

No phone calls, chats or internal communications are needed for technology professionals to see if something has stuck with SPAM and so on. Users themselves can check the quarantine in real time and receive reports at certain periods, allowing the e-mail to be released by a click.

The quarantine feature allows an easier management for administrators with a global view, as well as allows users full independence to manage any SPAMs. Productivity and time of all involved is maximized.

5. Auditing and archiving of emails

The greater the use of emails for business, the greater the need to have control over them, verifying if resource is being used in an appropriate way by the collaborators.

It is common for SAC and similar sectors to verify the service performed by their subordinates through e-mail platform. Auditing is a powerful feature and can be deployed in anti-spam solutions transparently, without the need for direct user intervention.

The process can be activated for both incoming and outgoing mail. In this way, they have absolute control over the flow and can evaluate the level of service and often satisfaction/interaction with customers.

Another use for directly auditing on anti-spam is to ensure that company can identify potential abnormalities in the misuse of e-mails, whether for personal purposes or misappropriation of information.

Similar to audits, but applied in a non-conditional way, archiving is an extremely important feature in anti-spam solutions that allows you to retain emails over a period, allowing easy retrieval and often covering intervals (black holes) when backup has not yet been performed.

In addition, archiving on some occasions may provide regulatory compliance in maintaining certain types of email being held for periods required by law, which occurs in some sectors of the economy.

6. Access control by sender or recipient

Many companies do not have clear e-mail policies, and even when they does, they do not deploy controls to ensure compliance. Since e-mail has become an easy platform for communicating and sharing information, it is well known that many have misused it.

Access control is a complement to auditing that allows you to take actions based on sender or recipient, such as blocking the sending or receiving by local (company) users.

With this feature, the company will manage from/to which emails or domains (@ostec.com.br, for example) its users can receive/send emails. This is extremely important because many industries have different needs for resource use, and the greater the control, the greater the security for the business.

It is important, however, to be very careful with controls applied, to ensure they do not create obstacles to collaborators productivity, in which case the policies should be flexible. For example, restricting business sectors, sales, etc., dealing with several different emails, can bring problems for businesses.

On the other hand, not offering any kind of control can also expose the company to complicated situations. In these cases, a more permissive policy combined with auditing and DLP will offer a very interesting flexibility between productivity and security.

7. Black and white lists management

Although it seems very simplistic in view of the amount of technology available today for spam combat, managing black and white lists is still an activity that offers efficiency for any type of business.

The black lists for the purpose of combating spammers is something really complicated, since the nature of unsolicited messages is to forge, in a dynamic way, senders and domains to perform the bypass. In this case, efficiency is only guaranteed if you have a standard that can be properly filtered.

On the other hand, whitelists offer a great ability to allow legitimate emails not to be marked as spam, based on sender and other aspects such as source networks, regular expressions, are delivered appropriately for their final destination.

A good non-technological practice is an alignment between e-mail-intensive sectors, along with IT, to create a facilitated form of sender or business management, ensuring that messages sent are marked as legitimate, avoiding communication delays by use of quarantines or other tools.

In addition, that old view that white and black lists are only based on email address or domain is wrong; today there are several other parameters to allow or block an email. It is worth checking what your anti-spam solution has and fit it with your business reality.

8. Data Leakage Prevention (DLP)

A more recent feature added not only to anti-spam solutions, it is a mechanism that performs a deeper inspection of the content of e-mails and their attachments, whose main focus is to protect companies against data leakage.

In this case, every email that goes through anti-spam is truly scoured through a set of patterns entered by administrators to identify suspicious emails. Parameters such as email body, sender, subject, size, as well as looking for patterns within attachments regardless of the format can be evaluated.

What is most interesting is that if it is not possible to view the content in general, a configuration can be created so that the email is quarantined, waiting for approval either from a supervisor or from an administrator or safety analyst.

As there is a lot of substantial information being verified, it is common that, depending on the type of email consumption, a processing upgrade is required to prevent delays in email delivery. Therefore, although it is a powerful tool, improper use can lead to operational problems for the anti-spam structure.

Is your anti-spam efficient? Do you use much of the information collected by this material? If you have any need, you can diagnose your anti-spam.

Keep reading

Cassio Brodbeck
conteudo@ostec.com.br
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