Are You Relying on Your Spam Filter to Protect Against Viruses?

Posted by Steven Vigeant on 12/24/13 1:01 PM

Cursor hovering over Spam folderEmail has become such a ubiquitous technology that it is easy to become complacent about the security threats it creates. There is a very real risk that you or one of your employees could infect your entire IT infrastructure with a catastrophic virus delivered through email. As sophisticated hackers have gotten better and better at disguising spam and other malicious messages, it is a challenge for even IT professionals to use email safely.

If you are skeptical about the significance of this threat, consider these stunning statistics.

  • 69 percent of all emails sent are spam
  • 1 in every 291 emails contains a virus (think of how many emails you receive in a week)
  • 66 percent of companies have dealt with a virus, malware, or malicious attack
  • 12 percent of these corporate victims have lost sensitive information.

To learn more about the current state of email security, consult this 2013 Symantec Report and this 2013 Kaspersky Survey. It is clear, however, that email presents as many challenges as opportunities, regardless of the size or type of business that you run. Securing the data that flows through email accounts should be a crucial component of your overall IT security strategy. Unfortunately, too many businesses rely on a spam filter as their only line of defense. Use these tips to avoid this common and costly mistake.

Don't Overlook the Junk/Trash Folder

Just because a message has been identified as spam and removed from your inbox does not mean that it has been destroyed. Frequently, these messages are simply rerouted to a special folder and left to sit. The malware that they contain is still accessible, and still has the ability to cripple your IT. If employees are browsing through their junk/spam/trash folder looking for a misplaced message, they could mistakenly open a malicious piece of spam and access its dangerous contents.

Rely on Outsourced Assistance

Services like McAfee SaaS and others contain advanced measures for identifying and sequestering spam before it even reaches your inbox. These technologies have the ability to recognize suspicious senders, see through phony links, and scan unusual attachments. All suspicious emails are automatically routed to a secure holding area where they can be reviewed through a web portal. If the message is malicious, you can destroy it, and if it is not, you can safely send it on to your email inbox. Basic spam filters may offer a few of these services, but their capabilities are frequently weak and outdated.

Added safety is not the only reason to rely on managed email scanning. This technology is relatively affordable compared to some other comprehensive security measures. The cost is roughly $4 per computer per month, depending on the nature of the service. This is also an easy way to take the hassle out of spam monitoring. Rather than setting up your own protections and trying to configure them properly, a managed scanning provider allows you to handle the essential details through a simple interface.

It is time to start taking email security seriously. Rely on your IT service provider to make sure that the process is effective. They can help you evaluate the spam filter you have in place now and offer suggestions for improvements. When your company’s most sensitive information is under threat, this kind of expertise is invaluable. To learn more about strengthening and streamlining you company's data security, read our white paper “The Ultimate Small Business Guide to IT Outsourcing.”


The Ultimate Small Business Guide to IT Outsourcing

Topics: Data Security, Email