Yesterday, we announced two new measures designed to protect against spear-phishing. Attachment Protect and User Awareness reduce the threat from malware-laden attachments, and help IT teams raise employee security awareness.

Both services are available as part of Mimecast Targeted Threat Protection, which now gives customers a comprehensive defense against the key technical and human risks from spear-phishing.

Spear-phishing attacks are a rapidly growing and evolving threat that needs a new generation of services to protect organizations.

Initially, it was about stopping URL links to malicious websites. But now the threat has moved on to weaponized attachments. So sandboxing has become a critical technical defense. Here attachments are tested in a safe environment before they can be delivered to the recipient. But sandboxing does have its limitations. It delays emails, which is frustrating and impacts employee productivity. It’s typically expensive to provide pre-emptive sandboxing, meaning organizations often limit who they protect to keep costs under control. That’s not good enough. As attacks using weaponized attachments become more commonplace and can be targeted at any employee, this puts organizations at risk if they are limiting this critical protection.

Our approach is different. We make it cost effective and easier to protect the whole organization.

Mimecast Targeted Threat Protection – Attachment Protect combines traditional pre-emptive sandboxing for those who want it with a transcription service that automatically gives all employees a safe and threat-less email attachment instantly. It does this by replacing inbound email attachments that could contain malicious code (e.g. PDF or Microsoft Office files) with safe transcribed versions – neutralizing any malicious code. Most employees only need to view attachments, so no further action is needed. If employees need to edit a file, a link in the email can be used to request the original file on-demand via our cloud-based sandboxing service.

However, technology is only part of the defense against spear-phishing and other security threats for that matter. A comprehensive strategy requires employee education. We need to improve employee skills and vigilance, and turn them into a human firewall that can thwart the scammers and hackers.

The problem is traditional IT training is ineffective, time-consuming and ultimately unable to keep up with advanced security threats that change all the time.

Now, in addition to link rewriting, URL Protect includes innovative dynamic user awareness capabilities so IT teams can raise the security awareness of employees. Once enabled, a percentage of links in emails clicked by an employee will open a warning screen. This provides them more information on the email and destination, prompting them to consider if the page is safe. If they choose to continue, their opinion is logged, URL Protect scans the link and blocks access if the destination is unsafe. IT administrators can set how frequently these awareness prompts are shown to ensure employee caution is maintained. Repeat offenders that click bad links will get more frequent prompts automatically until their behavior changes.

A comprehensive security strategy requires not just technology defenses but also employee education. You need to improve employee skills and vigilance, and turn them into a human firewall that can thwart the scammers and hackers.

If you’d like more information about these new services, please register for the Targeted Threat Protection Webinar or let us show you a demo. Also, please leave a comment on this post if you have any questions – thanks!

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