Why Email Filters Fail to Stop Phishing Emails

Feb 14, 2023

Phishing: The Email Threat that Continues to Evade Filters

Phishing attacks remain one of the biggest security threats faced by organizations and individuals today. These attacks use emails to trick people into giving up sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and social security numbers. Unfortunately, despite advances in email filtering technology, phishing emails continue to evade filters and reach their intended targets. In this blog, we will discuss why email filters fail to stop phishing emails and what can be done to better protect against these attacks.

How do spam filters work?

Spam filters work by analyzing incoming emails and determining if they are likely to be unwanted or malicious. This is typically done by evaluating a number of different criteria, including:

  1. Content: Spam filters analyze the content of an email, including the subject line, body text, and attachments, to determine if it contains keywords, phrases, or other characteristics commonly associated with spam.
  2. Sender: Spam filters also check the sender’s reputation and domain to determine if they have a history of sending spam or if they are known to be associated with spam activity.
  3. Destination: Spam filters may also check the email’s destination, including the recipient’s email address, to determine if it is likely to be unwanted.
  4. IP Address: The IP address of the sender is also analyzed to determine if it is associated with known sources of spam.
  5. Link Analysis: Spam filters may also analyze links within an email to determine if they lead to known sources of malicious content, such as phishing sites or malware downloads.
  6. Machine Learning: Many modern spam filters use machine learning algorithms to analyze email content and make more informed decisions about whether an email is likely to be spam.

Once an email has been evaluated, the spam filter will either allow it to pass through to the recipient’s inbox, flag it as spam, or block it entirely, depending on the level of risk it poses.

Five reasons why email filters fail to Stop Phishing Emails

  1. Evasion Tactics: Phishing attackers are constantly changing their tactics to evade detection by email filters. For example, they may use images instead of text, change domains frequently, or use encrypted links. This makes it difficult for filters to accurately identify phishing emails.
  2. Limited Context: Email filters typically operate on individual emails, so they may not have enough context to accurately identify phishing emails. For example, a phishing email that appears benign when viewed in isolation may be part of a larger, coordinated attack.
  3. User Error: Email filters are not perfect and can make mistakes. Users can also contribute to the problem by marking legitimate emails as spam, which can cause the filter to become less effective over time.
  4. Difficulty in Keeping Up with the Evolving Threat Landscape: Phishing attacks are constantly evolving, and it can be challenging for email filters to keep up with the latest tactics and techniques used by attackers.
  5. False Negatives: Email filters can sometimes miss phishing emails, even if they are using the latest techniques and rules. This is because phishing attacks are constantly evolving, and it can be difficult to stay ahead of the attackers.
why email filters fail

How phishing simulation can help to protect against phishing

Phishing simulation can play a crucial role in protecting against phishing attacks by training employees to recognize and avoid these types of threats. Here’s how:

  1. Identifying Vulnerabilities: Phishing simulations allow organizations to identify vulnerabilities in their employees’ ability to recognize and respond to phishing attacks. This information can be used to target training and improve overall security awareness.
  2. Building Awareness: Through repeated exposure to simulated phishing emails, employees can learn to recognize common phishing tactics and become better equipped to avoid them in real-life situations.
  3. Reinforcing Best Practices: Phishing simulations reinforce best practices for responding to suspicious emails, such as verifying the sender, avoiding clicking on links or attachments, and reporting any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.
  4. Measuring Success: Phishing simulations allow organizations to measure the effectiveness of their security awareness training and determine where additional resources are needed. By tracking employee response to simulated phishing emails, organizations can identify areas for improvement and adjust their training programs accordingly.
  5. Improving Response Time: Regular phishing simulations can also help to improve employee response time in the event of a real phishing attack. By being prepared and familiar with these types of threats, employees can quickly identify and respond to phishing attempts, minimizing the risk of a successful attack.

Overall, phishing simulation is an effective tool for building awareness and improving employee response to phishing attacks. By providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need to recognize and avoid these types of threats, organizations can better protect against phishing and other cyber threats.

C9LAB Phishing Simulation


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *