Ensuring the security and privacy of email messages is paramount to an organization’s ability to function. Vital information and data are shared over email every day, and the opportunity for bad actors to infiltrate a network through email-based methods is ever-present.
A foolproof method for determining the validity of an email is to verify the sender, but this isn’t as simple as it may appear. Attackers have continually improved their tactics of impersonation and manipulation to trick unsuspecting users into believing they are someone else.
The implementation of S/MIME certificates provides a reliable system that guarantees the identity of an email sender as legitimate.
Secure Email Messaging with S/MIME
Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) is a type of public encryption that can be used to sign email messages and identify the sender with complete accuracy. An email signed with an S/MIME certificate provides unequivocal proof that the sender is identified correctly and the email can be trusted.
S/MIME uses asymmetric cryptography to ensure the validity of the sender’s identity. Without S/MIME, an email is sent in plaintext that can be read by anyone who intercepts the message. With asymmetric cryptography enabled, the email is encrypted using a public key and can only be decrypted and read by a user with the private key.
When a user receives an email from a trusted source, it is automatically decrypted. If it comes from an unverifiable source, the message is flagged for the recipient to then determine whether the message can be trusted. If the organization uses an internal email system, it is an automatic red flag that something is amiss.
The Benefits of S/MIME
The ability to implicitly trust email messages is an enormous security advantage for any organization. The 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 92% of malware is sent through email. Eliminating the risk of a network user opening a malware email can potentially save an organization thousands or even millions of dollars and prevent potential bankruptcy.
Verifying a sender’s identity also provides a level of message integrity that cannot be achieved otherwise. Spoofing an email account and imitating a trusted sender or creating a convincing phishing email is quite easy for a bad actor and is a commonly used tactic. A data thief can easily imitate a company executive and trick an employee; with S/MIME enabled, this becomes impossible.
It also maintains the integrity of a message because the email is protected from over-the-air attacks like a Man-in-the-Middle attack. The message is protected by the asymmetric encryption and cannot be altered without the private key. This means nothing can be added to the message by a bad actor, such as a malicious malware link. It also offers the added benefit of transparency and accountability within an organization because once an email is sent, the sender’s identity is explicitly tied to the message.
An S/MIME Certificate Solution with SecureW2
Digital certificates are an excellent tool for modern cybersecurity networks but are famously difficult to distribute en masse, unless you have the right software. The process requires high level IT knowledge to understand and leads to frequent misconfigurations if left to the average network user, and having an IT department set up hundreds, or even thousands of certificates is simply too burdensome.
SecureW2 has developed a streamlined method for distributing certificates that allows users to self-configure their devices for certificates in only a few clicks. The JoinNow solution can be completed in minutes and assures that every user is correctly configured. For managed devices, our API Gateway solutions can distribute certificate profiles with no interaction from the end user.
The technical requirements to provide an S/MIME certificate solution can all be provided by SecureW2. Our software requires no forklift upgrades and can integrate with any network infrastructure. And if you have infrastructure that you’re happy with, like a PKI, our solution is tailored to work with any major vendor.
Email is a well-established and widely used communication medium that is frequently targeted because of the valuable information exchanged and the opportunity to manipulate users. Protecting this channel is of utmost importance and should not be underestimated for the impact it can have on an organization. Check out SecureW2’s pricing page to see if our cost effective S/MIME solutions can fit the needs of your organization.