Building Zero Trust into Your Email Security

Mailspike Technologies By Mailspike Technologies • September 27, 2022

There is a fragile balancing between not trusting anyone (sending you emails) and having enough productivity and relationships to keep your work flowing. 

Domain spoofing, domain impersonation, and open-signup attacks are different types of identity-based attacks that are increasingly making their rounds. Each day, 15 billion spam emails make their way across the internet leading experts to predict that at least six billion phishing attacks will occur in 2022. It’s even more alarming that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation expects phishing attacks to increase by as much as 400% yearly – making eliminating identity-based email attacks more critical than ever. And the disturbing pervasiveness of malicious email attacks has many companies resorting to the Zero Trust Security Model. It helps address key threats such as ransomware, supply chain attacks, and insider threats.

What is the Zero Trust Security Model?

The Zero Trust Security Model is a security framework that requires all users to be authenticated and authorized before being given access to data and applications. The model also continuously validates the user for security configuration so they can maintain access. Beyond continuous verification as a core principle, the zero trust model also aims to minimize the impacts of breaches by automating context collection and response.

With this system, you can ensure that no one can access your corporate data without passing multiple factors that authenticate their identity. The security concept differs from traditional models that trust by default, which puts the organization at risk. Zero trust visualizes the risks involved for all its resources and their access points, mitigates impacts, and extends protection to all aspects of the IT infrastructure regardless of whether the resources are onsite or cloud-based.

Essential Features and Foundation for a Zero Trust Security Model  

While executing zero trust may seem complex, the model can be built upon existing architecture and is relatively simple to implement, monitor, and maintain. Most companies already have existing technology that are essential features of a zero trust security model, such as email authentication, two-factor authentication, password management, and email encryption. But when building a zero trust security model for your emails, you should form its foundation with a Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC).

A zero trust security environment is established by defining a baseline of security measures and mapping the transaction flows and types of access between internal and external users. With a zero trust policy in place, there should be an asset inventory, and all requests by users must first be verified before being granted access to the network.

With zero trust policies, users are monitored and validated in real-time to ensure their devices have the right identity attributes. This involves vetting attributes such as user identity, credential privileges, device behavior patterns, endpoint hardware function, firmware versions, operating system, suspicious activity, and authentication protocol. Because threats are ever-evolving and user attributes can change, one-time validation will not be enough. The zero trust model anticipates this by continuously monitoring and validating users’ privileges and attributes. 


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