Proxies for email protection
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Iveta Vistorskyte

Dec 14, 2020 8 min read

Businesses tend to share sensitive and essential information via emails. However, more than 90% of cyber attacks have been launched via emails, meaning that it’s one of the weakest chains in companies’ security. There aren’t any doubts that companies have to ensure their email protection, so they usually entrust this task to professionals in the field – reliable cybersecurity companies.

According to Statista, the secure email gateway market is projected to grow to around 5.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2024, meaning that various businesses and individuals are willing to invest in their email protection services increasingly. This is the reason why cybersecurity companies have to search for the most reliable and effective solutions for an efficient email protection process.

This article explains the main types of email security threats, how proxies are involved in the email protection process, why they’re necessary, and what types of proxies should be used to ensure email security.

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Types of email security threats

Cybercriminals are applying sophisticated methods to hack into computer networks via emails all over the world. Cybersecurity companies fight with different types of email security threats daily. Let’s have a look at each one of them in detail.

There are different types of email security threats

Phishing

According to Statista, during the first two quarters of 2020, 312 766 unique phishing sites were detected worldwide. Even if the peak was in 2016 (466 065 unique phishing sites during the second quarter only), it’s still an intricate email security threat nowadays. 

Cybercriminals pretend to be trustworthy entities (e.g., banks, social media sites, online payment systems) and communicate with victims via emails where they add URLs that direct to their fake websites. Usually, users have to provide their sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, or even credit card details and then cybercriminals obtain sensitive data. 

Impersonation

Cybercriminals play the role of a trusted individual or company to deceive their victims and gain access to sensitive information. They can impersonate even co-workers or a boss to ask their target to carry out money transfers, pay invoices, or send essential data. Attackers use publicly available information (e.g. from LinkedIn) to look as reliable as possible and target people in an organization.

Malware

Simply put, malware (in other words, malicious software) is a general term for viruses and other harmful computer programs cybercriminals use to gain access to sensitive data. Usually, malicious emails contain suspicious files that pose a threat to various companies or individuals.

Malware can be categorized in terms of its damage once it has successfully affected its victim’s computer. The most common types are:

  • Spyware. It’s a kind of malware that secretly gathers information about organizations or individuals and, for example, transmits this data to other parties. 
  • Ransomware. It’s a malicious program that encrypts sensitive data. Hackers demand a ransom for this information. 
  • Rootkits. It’s a kind of malware that can be injected into applications, firmware, etc. Rootkits give cybercriminals a remote control of the victim’s computer.

There are other types of malware, such as adware, trojans, worms, and viruses.

Email spam

Email spam (also called junk mail) is a term that defines unwanted emails sent in bulk with commercial, fraudulent or malicious intent. In 2019, the share of global spam as a percentage of total email traffic accounted for 28.5%. The most significant problem with spam is that through junk email cybercriminals distribute malicious content.

Through junk email cybercriminals distribute malicious content

The role of proxies in email protection

We already explained the main email security threats that cybersecurity companies have to deal with daily, so it’s time to find out how proxies impact the email protection process.

Using proxies for email protectionEmail protection without proxies
Proxies help detect malicious URLs and attachments by allowing to check emails from different geo-locations.Some of malicious URLs and attachments may not be checked. This can pose a threat to companies or individuals.
Hackers are unable to detect the email protection process because cybersecurity companies verify emails via different IP addresses.Cybercriminals can track down the email protection process and come up with ways to fight against it.
Proxies help efficiently detect fraudulent content by providing an ability to scan emails from different IP addresses.Without the ability to scan emails via different IP addresses, there is a chance that some of the fraudulent content may not be checked.
Source: Oxylabs

Companies that provide email protection solutions prevent threats before they even reach recipients. They check all the outgoing and incoming emails to detect potential fraudulent attempts. For this process, cybersecurity companies utilize specific scrapers. These scrapers verify all the questionable links to find out if they lead to reliable websites. The similar process is with suspicious attachments. All the files are opened in a virtual machine to monitor all processes, especially those that communicate with external servers. Cybersecurity companies have to work fast because their activity must be unobtrusive and effective.

However, if connections arrive from the same IP address all the time, hackers or cybercriminals would be able to quickly find out that cybersecurity companies are validating emails and attachments. They would be able to come up with ways to fight against cybersecurity companies.

Some of the phishing links or malware can be created by skilful hackers, who manage to hide all the suspicions at first sight. For example, fraudulent content can look safe and reliable from the specific range of IP addresses. It’s also important to mention that cybercriminals can create fake websites that look trustworthy and secure when victims access them from particular geo-locations.

Without proxies, the email protection process is ineffective because cybersecurity companies are unable to detect phishing and malware successfully. This is the reason why the use of proxies is crucial. 

How do proxies work?

When a device connects to the internet, it uses an IP address. Proxies have their own IP addresses, so when a device sends a request on the internet, it firstly routes through the proxy, meaning that the original IP address hides behind the proxy. Simply put, proxies are intermediaries between users and the web. 

Cybersecurity companies rotate proxies to deal with email security threats from different IP addresses effectively.

How do proxies work

Types of proxies for email protection

Residential and datacenter are the most common types of proxies. Both of these types can be used for email protection. However, to find out which is more suitable for this task, we’ll explain the main challenges that cybersecurity professionals can face.

In the first chapters of this article, we discussed the main email security threats. Key insights from this information are:

  1. Cybersecurity companies have to deal with vast amounts of malicious emails daily. 
  2. To deal with these cyber attacks effectively, companies that provide email protection services have to act anonymously and fast. 
  3. The process of email protection must be unbreakable.

Both residential and datacenter proxies provide high anonymity. However, their main differences determine which are more suitable for email protection. Residential Proxies are provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), so they are legitimate IP addresses. This is the reason why these proxies are almost unblockable and perfectly fits for other tasks like web scraping, ad verification, review monitoring, and many more. However, compared to Datacenter Proxies in terms of email protection, they are more a secondary choice.

Even if residential proxies provide a chance of being less likely to get blocked, datacenter proxies have such advantages as exceptionally fast performance and high uptime. Datacenter proxies aren’t affiliated with ISPs and they originate from secondary corporations like data centers. These proxies don’t carry genuine IP addresses, meaning that datacenter proxies aren’t dependent on IP address hosts. This gives datacenter proxies features as exceptional performance, speed, and high uptime that are crucial for a smooth email protection process.

Some cybersecurity companies for the best results use datacenter and residential proxies at the same time. Choosing whether to use datacenter proxies or both residential and datacenter proxies depends on every company’s needs. Testing different options makes this choice easier.

It’s also worth mentioning that choosing a reliable proxy service provider is a must. Cybersecurity companies have to ensure the stability of their service, so all of their resources have to come from trustworthy companies. We’ve covered the key focus areas when choosing the right proxy service provider in other articles.

Choosing a reliable proxy provider is a must

Wrapping it up

Fighting against cybercriminals isn’t easy for companies that provide email protection services because they face many challenges daily. Reliable proxies facilitate the email protection process. They help effectively scan emails and detect suspicious URLs and attachments.

Anonymity, speed, and uptime are the most critical focus areas when choosing the right proxy type to improve email protection process. In this case, datacenter proxies offer all of these benefits that enable companies to scan all the emails before they reach their recipients. Using both residential and datacenter proxies may guarantee even better results. However, cybersecurity companies have to test possible options to find what is suitable for them.

If you’re interested in more information about solutions for cybersecurity companies, contact us by clicking here.

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About Iveta Vistorskyte

Iveta Vistorskyte is a Content Manager at Oxylabs. Growing up as a writer and a challenge seeker, she decided to welcome herself to the tech-side, and instantly became interested in this field. When she is not at work, you'll probably find her just chillin' while listening to her favorite music or playing board games with friends.

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