Why Anti-Virus Alone Just Isn’t Enough to Protect Your Email

Why Anti-Virus Alone Just Isn’t Enough to Protect Your Email

By: Karron Swift, Senior IT Technician

It’s understandable that email security doesn’t sit top of mind for most people. We don’t have time to sit around dreaming up dangers our email systems could face. Many of us just trust our antivirus protection to keep us safe from potential threats.

But if your email account is like a fortress, installing only antivirus and expecting it to keep you secure is like constructing a drawbridge but forgetting to build walls. Antivirus is simply not designed to protect against every lurking threat.

What does antivirus do?

Antivirus defends against one specific threat: computer viruses. These malicious programs infect computers with their own modifying and corrupting code. Generally, antivirus protects against already known threats.

While it detects and destroys viruses, there are other threats to your email security antivirus can’t do anything about.

Those threats include:

  • Phishing
  • Spearphishing
  • Malware
  • Spyware

Phishing and spearphishing

Phishing is an attack that solicits users to download a file, provide personal information, or click on a link that performs an action. Phishing attacks are the most common delivery method of ransomware, a type of software that locks up valuable files until a ransom is paid.

It can be very difficult to differentiate between a real email and phishing email. Scammers use legitimate logos, correctly formatted email signatures, and spoofed email addresses to lend credibility to their attack. They also create false scenarios that instill a sense of urgency, crisis, or authority to minimize critical thinking from their target.

Spearphishing uses the information gained from a successful phishing attack to appear even more legitimate and escalate its penetration with further personalized attempts to gain information.

Malware and spyware

Malware is a broad term that encompasses anything that injects malicious software into a computer system. It includes viruses but also encompasses spyware, worms, adware, ransomware, and Trojans.

That’s why antivirus alone doesn’t keep you cyber safe; there’s an entire range of other threats that exist outside the bounds of viruses.

The effect of having malware on your computer ranges the gambit of unsavory to dangerous, including slow processing speeds, stolen information, locked files, unusable systems and more.

How to practice safe emailing

Install a spam filter
Depending on your platform, a well-trusted spam filter like Barracuda or Norton will go a long way toward protecting your computer system from malicious invaders.

Train your employees
Cyber security is not technology, it’s a mindset. Train your employees to use security best practices when they’re in the office and working from home. Employees at all levels should stop, look, and think before reacting. Create a work environment that encourages employees to throw out emails if they’re in doubt of their authenticity.

Use secure email
If your business sends anything that contains personally identifiable information, consider using a secure email. It’s more expensive, but it encrypts the information so it can’t be intercepted and exploited.

Set your security preferences high
If you manage your own email platforms, make sure your security practices and preferences are set to the highest level. If a sender is caught in the spam filter, train your employees to figure out why instead of automatically whitelisting them.

Get a partner
At Networks Plus, we manage all the security, systems, and settings for our partners. If email security is something you don’t have time to think about, we can step in and think about it for you. Give us a call to talk about how we can help!

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