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Fight Against Phishing: Email Address Verification as a Cybersecurity Process

Phishing keeps making much noise in the realm of cybersecurity, and not in a good way. A majority of cyber attacks start with a phishing email, making the tactic responsible, at least partially, for close to 90% of data breaches.

And it’s no secret that data breaches are very costly for victims. A report has, in fact, revealed that the current cost of a data breach stands at US$3.92 million. What’s even more disheartening, however, is the fact that phishing attempts keep increasing with a high success rate.

Fighting against phishing attacks is, therefore, a crucial step in protecting an organization from cybercrime activities that result in data breaches. But how does one fight against phishing attempts? We identified some solutions that could become part of companies’ overall cybersecurity process, including email address verification.

Filter Emails through Email Address Verification

The first step is to find a way to nip the problem in the bud. In the case of phishing, keeping unwanted emails from reaching people within an organization is a must. And that is where tools such as Email Verification API can help.

With the tool, users can check the validity, existence, and the quality of a given email address so that suspected bad actors can’t get access to potential victims’ inboxes. The email verification tool can accurately check the following for every sender’s email address:

  • If the email address follows the correct syntax based on the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards
  • Whether or not the email address is disposable based on their use of providers such as GuerillaMail, 10MinuteMail, and Mailinator
  • If the email address truly exists and can receive emails by checking for a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) connection
  • If the message uses a catch-all email address, which is a usual cybercriminal tactic
  • Whether or not the email address contains nonsensical words and special characters typically not found in corporate email addresses.

Many threat actors make use of disposable email addresses or intentionally misspell a popular domain to trick victims. For this reason, email address verification is a vital cybersecurity process. Once the tool detects a red flag in an incoming email, the organization’s security operations center (SOC) can either block the message immediately or investigate it further to see if it should be allowed to reach its intended recipient.

While filtering emails through email address verification is an effective way to reduce phishing incidents, some phishing emails may still find a way in. Cybersecurity teams should never assume that a method is 100% safe, as threat actors are always on the lookout for even a small hole through which they can infiltrate a network. As such, we also recommend that they enforce the next two best practices.

Identify Vulnerable Targets

It’s essential to identify the people or departments that are most vulnerable to phishing attacks. A study revealed that the people in the production and operations departments are the most preferred targets of phishing attacks, followed by marketing and public relations, then management and sales, and human resources.

While these departments are most vulnerable to phishing attacks, it’s important to note that everyone is a target. As an additional means of security, however, require the most likely targets to screen all incoming emails with an email address verification tool.

Regularly Educate Users About Phishing

After identifying the departments that are most vulnerable to phishing attacks, the next crucial step is to conduct information or educational drives. Teach employees what a phishing email looks like, what they should do when they receive a suspicious email, and never to click a link or download an attachment that comes with such a message. You may also encourage them to use an email address verification tool, especially if they are unsure which senders are trustworthy and which aren’t.

* * *

Phishing attacks’ success lies in the action of at least one victim. For this reason, threat actors try to target a large number of people. Even when only one person opens the phishing email and clicks the malicious link embedded in it, they can already start infiltrating the victim’s entire network.

As such, educating employees on recognizing phishing emails is crucial, but equally important is filtering out messages from suspicious email addresses. With the help of tools such as Email Verification API, you lessen the chances of anyone falling prey to phishing.

By WhoisXML API, A Domain Research, Whois, DNS, and Threat Intelligence API and Data Provider

Whois API, Inc. (WhoisXML API) is a big data and API company that provides domain research & monitoring, Whois, DNS, IP, and threat intelligence API, data and tools to a variety of industries.

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