Why out-of-the-box spam filters just aren’t enough

Hands working at iMac showing spam filters on the screen in home office

Spam filters review incoming emails for spam-like characteristics to prevent unsolicited content from reaching a user’s inbox.

Many popular email suites have spam filters built into their systems by default. Although these out-of-the-box tools can help keep junk email at bay, they aren’t a foolproof method to safeguard your organization from all potential threats.

Keep reading to learn about the limitations of spam filters and how the right HIPAA compliant email provider can help you stay one step ahead.

Cybercriminals are getting sneakier 

Spam filters judge emails based on a specific set of criteria. However, spammers are continuously discovering new ways to bypass these rules. This means that spam emails are bound to reach the primary inbox from time to time.

For instance, spammers may evade keyword detection by using filler text below the email body, overwhelming messages with unnecessary content, or adding special characters between letters. Additional deceptive techniques include using links with reputable domains, hiding malicious links in attachments, and embedding HTML images into messages.

Snowshoe spam is another way that cybercriminals sneak past spam filters. This involves distributing spam from a variety of IP addresses and domains in smaller batches, rather than a few that can be easily identified.

Spam is evolving 

While malicious spam used to be largely limited to viruses, today’s spammers are evolving and preying on human weaknesses.  Spam filters won’t always keep these highly targeted and sophisticated techniques out of the inbox.

More spammers are spoofing email addresses and display names to trick users into believing that a message is coming from a trusted source, as seen in a recent attack on Microsoft Office 365. It is also common to gather and reference specific information about an individual to establish credibility.

The business email compromise (BEC) is a particularly damaging form of this approach. In this technique, threat actors impersonate a high-level executive. The goal is to convince an employee to divulge sensitive information or carry out a fraudulent transfer.

Key measures to lower your risk 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides a list of email security best practices for reducing the overall volume of spam. This can ultimately lower the chance of falling victim to a malicious email. These measures include:

  • Always exercise caution when sharing your email address, phone number, and other personal information.
  • Pay careful attention to commercial web forms. Some websites allow you to opt out of receiving partner emails by un-selecting a box.
  • When submitting your email address to a website, check the privacy policy for any mentions of permissions to sell or use your information.
  • Use a secondary email account to protect your primary account from potential spam.
  • Never respond to unsolicited emails from unfamiliar sources.

Strengthen protection with HIPAA compliant email

As threat actors continue to advance their tactics, ongoing employee education and training can provide an extra layer of protection from spam and other malicious threats. Unfortunately, human error is still inevitable. Therefore, healthcare providers should cover all bases with a stronger inbound email security strategy. That’s where Paubox Email Suite comes in.

Along with enabling HIPAA compliant email by default, Paubox Email Suite’s Plus and Premium plan levels include robust inbound email security tools. These help prevent malicious emails from reaching the inbox in the first place. Our patent-pending Zero Trust Email feature uses email AI to confirm that an email is authentic. Additionally, our patented ExecProtect solution quickly intercepts display name spoofing attempts right off the bat.

Try Paubox Email Suite Plus for FREE today.

About the author

Sara Uzer

Read more by Sara Uzer

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