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This report provides an overview of the Email Security market and provides you with a compass to help you to find the solution that best meets your needs. We examine the market segment, vendor service functionality, relative market share, and innovative approaches to providing Email Security solutions.

1 Introduction / Executive Summary

Email has been a standard and preferred communication tool for 30 years. It will remain so for the foreseeable future. However, it is a prime vector for many kinds of cyber threats. To protect enterprise users against these threats, robust email security measures are essential. Here are some examples of the types of threats that can infiltrate an organization via email, which also illustrate the need for email security.

Phishing Attacks: Phishing emails are deceptive messages that attempt to impersonate real users or authoritative sources, luring recipients to click on malicious links or download malicious attachments. These attacks preface other attacker tactics and can lead to the compromise of enterprise users’ devices and other sensitive information, such as login credentials, financial data, personally identifiable information (PII), and intellectual property (IP).

Malware: Attackers still use malicious software to take control of victims’ systems. Malware can be disseminated via email attachments or links, infecting systems when opened. Malware can include viruses, ransomware, spyware, and Trojans/rootkits, each designed to exploit known or unknown vulnerabilities and likely to steal or encrypt data.

Spear phishing: This is a specialized and more targeted form of phishing. Spear phishing is when attackers perform reconnaissance on organizations and specific individuals within organizations to develop target lists and decide on tactics. The attackers then use this information to craft convincing emails and related content that make it harder to distinguish the spear phish emails from legitimate correspondence.

Business Email Compromise (BEC): The purpose of BEC attacks on employees is to get them to transfer funds or sensitive information under the guise of a trusted authority within the organization, such as a CEO or CFO or a specific employee’s manager. These attacks often use social engineering tactics. BEC attacks can be related to spear phishing. Some brand protection services provide executive monitoring services to alert when these types of attacks could be forthcoming.

Spoofing and Impersonation: Email spoofing and impersonation tactics involve falsifying sender information to trick recipients into believing the email is from a trusted source. These attacks can be used to spread malware or gain access to sensitive data. Spoofing and impersonation tactics run the gamut from faking the account name to typosquatting to even compromising legitimate senders’ accounts.

Email Bombing: This is a variation of a denial of service in some cases. Attackers flood a target's inbox with an overwhelming volume of emails, causing service disruptions and potentially leading to data loss or exposure. This method is also like MFA SMS/text fatigue, where attackers repeatedly hit an account hoping that the recipient will eventually give in and open a message and interact with its malicious content.

Data Leakage: Unauthorized data leakage can occur when employees inadvertently send sensitive information to unintended recipients. This could result from human error or malicious intent (either on the part of the employee or through manipulation by bad actors).

Zero-Day Exploits: Attackers may discover and exploit unknown vulnerabilities in email clients or servers, enabling them to deliver malware or compromise systems. Attackers may also simply use email to deliver zero-day exploits to victims.

Given the pervasive and evolving nature of these email-based threats, email security is something that all organizations must have.

1.1 Highlights

  • Email security solutions must be an essential component of every organization’s security architecture
  • Email is a primary vector for many cyber-attacks, and malicious actors are constantly evolving their techniques and payloads
  • Malicious actors are using generative AI to create much more realistic phishing and spear phishing emails, leading to more incidents of business email compromise (BEC)
  • Security vendors are also leveraging AI, including Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL) algorithms for detecting anomalous and suspicious email and malicious content
  • There are many attack patterns against email services as well as user inboxes, and email security solutions should be able to detect and stop such attacks
  • Innovative features in this market include using browser isolation, Content Disarm and Reconstruction (CDR), integrated security awareness training and testing, email archive, and legal e-discovery
  • Although email security is a long-established cybersecurity product area, new innovative approaches in the marketplace are welcome, which is why we see new entrants in the market within the last five years
  • Additional consolidation is expected in this market, as some of the smaller or newer players will be acquired by the heavyweights to augment their email security offerings.
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