best email security

For effective incident response, use a remediation checklist

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Email occupies a precarious place in our lives today, being both completely necessary and totally hazardous. I’m not just referring to the trouble it can sometimes get us into when we respond too quickly — overlooking an embarrassing typo or using colorful language — but to the inviting entry point that it gives cybercriminals into our organizations.

Today’s hackers use familiar language, deceptive domains, and numerous other tactics to bypass even the most advanced email security controls in attempts to gain access to people, data, and finances.

Security practitioners know that there’s no email security technology that’s 100% effective at preventing email attacks — a targeted attack will inevitably make its way into a recipient’s inbox. Of course, an effective email security architecture will go a long way in keeping successful attacks to a minimum. Still, for those that are missed, it’s crucial to have a strategy to stop the spread, minimize the damage, and reinforce prevention and detection methods.

The aftermath of an email attack can compromise an inordinate amount of IT resources. According to a survey conducted by Barracuda researchers, manual incident response consumes an average of three to five hours per incident — and that’s on the conservative side. A recent IBM report stated that it takes an average of 287 days to identify and contain a data breach.

When it comes to email incident response, time is money. Not only can inefficient incident response monopolize precious IT resources, but it can result in stolen data, financial loss, and brand damage. Having an incident response strategy can minimize the effects of a potentially devastating email attack. We’ve developed a remediation checklist for email incident response that you can use to prepare your organization and recover swiftly from an attack.

A survey conducted by Barracuda researchers, manual incident response consumes an average of three to five hours per incident.Click To Tweet

Prepare: Plan ahead by aligning technology, people, and processes

  • Technology:
  • People: 
  • Processes:
    • Document an actionable process for incident response. Use the proceeding checklist items as a template for this process.
    • Communicate the process to key players.
    • Make it readily available for quick reference.

Escalate: Reduce monitoring time and quickly escalate to an incident response platform that provides you with the following capabilities:

  • A central location to monitor and prioritize threats that have been reported or discovered post-delivery.
  • Proactive threat hunting using a wide variety of classifiers, such as unusual locations, suspicious logins, and inbox rules.
  • Automatic remediation of malicious content.
  • Mailbox integration for single-click user reporting.

Identify: Identify the nature of the attack, its scope, and the impact on users and infrastructure

  • Automate incident creation based on reported emails, post-delivery detection of malicious content, and potential incidents based on past threats.
  • Gather threat details from the malicious email and identify all affected users and their actions (click, forward, reply, etc.).
  • Coordinate with your team to understand the status of the incident at all times to maximize efficiency.

Contain: Respond fast and swiftly to minimize the spread of the attacks

  • Remove the suspicious email from all affected user inboxes.
  • Block access to malicious websites.
  • Alert all affected users, both internal and external.
  • Enable continuous remediation to stop any future instances of the same attack.

Recover: Recover any lost data and improve your security posture

  • Restore data from cloud backup.
  • Monitor endpoint health.
  • Reset user passwords.
  • Update email security policies to blocklist malicious senders, geos, etc.
  • Utilize community-sourced threat intelligence to bolster your security.

If you’re looking for the most effective and efficient way to identify and remediate email threats, consider an automated response solution like Barracuda Incident Response. Our solution helps security admins easily identify the scope of an email attack and quickly remove the unwanted email directly from all affected inboxes. Malicious content that weaponizes post-delivery will be automatically flagged and removed without your involvement. Only Barracuda leverages community-sourced threat intelligence to identify potential incidents within your organization for proactive threat hunting and prevention.

To learn more, you can join us on Wednesday, April 27 for the webinar, Boost email security with post-delivery detection and response. Join Barracuda email security experts for this informative new webinar about all the benefits of post-delivery detection and response and how it can better protect your business. Save your spot now.

Barracuda Resources:

Barracuda Content Shield: Protect users and business from malicious links, websites and downloads.
Barracuda Security Awareness Training: Attack simulations for multiple vectors, including phishing, smishing, vishing, and found physical media
Barracuda Cloud-to-Cloud Backup: Easy protection and fast backup for your Office 365 data.


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