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Email Security: are you following best practice?

If a cyber-attack is launched against your business, it will most likely come in the form of an email 

That’s because it’s not a complex crime for a cyber-criminal to pull off, and they can send thousands of emails en masse. 

Out of all of those, all it takes is for the scammer to ‘hook’ one unwitting employee – and for them to give the scammer an ‘in’: a password, or access to a company folder – and it can cost your SME an average of £11,000 to fix. 

It’s always more expensive to resolve a data breach than it is to prevent one – and this is why many businesses trust tools like Microsoft Defender for their email security. However, as email-based cyber-attacks become more and more sophisticated, here’s why you can’t afford to do this part of cybersecurity ‘by halves’. 


What security issues can I expect to face? 

If you haven’t read our guides on impersonation and suspicious links in emails already, we recommend that you do so, because these explain the most common ways that cybercriminals will attempt to breach your system. 

As a quick summary, this type of activity, known as ‘phishing’, simply relies on a malicious actor tricking one of your employees into giving up access to data, either by: 

Without any security measures, you may not even know that a breach has happened until you notice data is missing (or you receive an email from the scammer holding your data for ransom). 


What is Microsoft Defender – and why do so many SMEs rely on it? 

The more barriers you place between a cyber-criminal and your data, the more likely you will deter would-be criminals from prodding at your defences. It’s what the National Cyber Security Centre calls a ‘multi-layered’ approach to email security. 

So, aside from having well-informed, well-trained employees who can spot the tell-tale signs of a phishing attempt (such as suspicious email addresses and attachments, or emails worded with a sense of urgency), many businesses using the Microsoft 365 suite will rely on Microsoft’s own Defender for 365 software to identify or block malicious emails. 

It’s a solid option for many SMEs’ email security needs. 

This isn’t only because it can counteract the most common threats such as malware, phishing and spam by filtering or blocking malicious material, but it also integrates seamlessly with your key software applications, such as OneDrive and SharePoint. 

This functionality means that administrators can set up permissions or policies that, for example, automatically prevent sensitive data from being sent, or which alert them to irregular activity in their file folders. This is without mentioning how easily you can integrate it with Microsoft Authenticator to provide two-factor authentication (2FA). 

In short, it’s easy to use, integrates well with Microsoft 365 software, and at a modest price per user, it’s often sufficient for most SMEs. 

However, when it comes to cybersecurity, often sufficient isn’t always sufficient. 


Can I depend on Microsoft Defender? 

Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean that it has a ‘low barrier for entry’. In fact, Defender has some very advanced features that let you encrypt emails, check a sender’s domain’s reputation, and use dashboards to see the kinds of threats you’re facing and devote appropriate attention to them. 

However, as you grow, cyber-criminals will start to combine hit-and-run attacks with more patient, more intricate attempts to breach your data, as the pay-off could potentially be worth the extra effort. 

This effort can include anything from inserting themselves between two employees in ‘man-in-the-middle attacks’ to cutting-edge tactics, such as using ‘packet sniffers’ to intercept unencrypted communications over vulnerable networks. 

The more these tactics evolve, the more the protections given by Defender are outclassed by more robust tools, such as Mimecast. 


Why choose Mimecast for email security? 

Mimecast for Email Security provides “business-critical supplemental security to Microsoft 365” like Defender, however, it’s more robust for a number of reasons: 

Fundamentally, good email security can respond actively to threats – but the best email security prevents them from even reaching you in the first place. 

In that, Mimecast isn’t just more secure – it also delivers a labour-saving user experience – which saves time and makes your operation that much more efficient.  

For a few pounds more per user per month than Defender, a tool like Mimecast is invaluable in the peace of mind it provides. 

As IT security experts, we recommend Mimecast, but we’re a vendor-neutral partner, so you can be certain that whatever we advise will be in the best interests of your long-term business goals. 

Do you think you could work smarter, or are you worried about your cyber security? Take our quick assessment to see where your Microsoft 365 weak spots are – and how to fix them. 

For a no-obligation conversation, call 01268 288100 or email [email protected].