Abuse mailbox automation helps eliminate the manual analysis bottleneck in security operations teams’ response to BEC, phishing and other email threats. Learn more here.
Social engineering attacks continue to threaten organizations, targeting financial account access through Business Email Compromise (BEC) and phishing. Per the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, BEC attacks represent the fastest growing cyberthreat—responsible for roughly $2.4 billion in losses—alongside illegal cryptocurrency usage.
Organizations commonly respond to BEC attacks by implementing employee training. However, better employee detection leads to more threats being quarantined in abuse mailboxes rather than becoming breach incidents. In addition, while increased security awareness is always advantageous, it can be much more taxing on your security team if workflow processes aren’t improved simultaneously.
So, how can security teams respond to the increased volume of potential BEC, phishing, and other email threats? Automating abuse mailbox processes helps achieve new efficiencies for security operations teams.
This article explores abuse mailbox automation and the benefits it can bring to your organization.
How Does an Abuse Mailbox Work?
Simply put, abuse mailboxes function as an organization’s email quarantine zone.
Whenever users encounter suspicious emails, they forward them to an abuse mailbox. Users typically send messages by clicking a button (e.g., “Report”) displayed in their inbox or entering the abuse mailbox’s email address.
Once quarantined, security teams analyze the email to determine whether it proves to be a security threat. If they confirm the message as a legitimate threat, the team tracks down and removes all instances of that threat organization-wide.
Quarantine provides a straightforward solution for minimizing phishing campaigns and other business email compromise (BEC) threats. This is particularly effective after employees learn to spot potentially malicious emails from awareness training or phishing simulations.
However, this workflow’s efficiency suffers from a significant bottleneck: manual email analysis and remediation.
The Abuse Mailbox Bottleneck—Manual Email Analysis and Remediation
Providing an abuse mailbox benefits organizations and their cybersecurity. However, it also increases the number of emails marked for quarantine. While employees learn to detect more phishing emails, they also forward more “false positives” – legitimate emails suspected of malicious activity.
This creates significantly higher volumes of email for security teams to sift through and analyze. In addition, the increase in false positives means the odds of legitimate threats slipping through also increase.
Despite the greater volume of flagged emails, many security teams still contend with the same manual email analysis and remediation processes. While already time-consuming, manual analysis prevents them from accomplishing other tasks that benefit the organization’s overall security posture.
On the business side, longer analysis times increase delays before employees know whether the suspicious email they forwarded poses a threat. In addition, reduced response times prevent organizations from making decisions and reacting to circumstances with agility.
Benefits of Automated Abuse Mailbox Remediation
Automating abuse mailbox workflows enhances a security team’s ability to manage the influx of flagged emails throughout every process stage, saving valuable time. In addition, automation:
- Triages flagged emails, so security teams handle the most critical incidents immediately.
- Remediates flagged emails that match previous analyses automatically.
- Provides greater context to security teams, enabling them to determine and perform the required remediation action faster.
And, following analysis, automated abuse mailbox remediation will:
- Process bulk remediation for all emails that match across end-user mailboxes
- Log the security team’s remediation efforts to:
- Provide historical records for report generation and audits
- Improve pattern recognition and response
These capabilities depend on machine learning (ML) and the system’s behavior pattern recognition. ML models’ out-of-the-box capabilities are impressive. However, their impact is felt when security teams partner with a solution provider to customize models to their unique environment. This enables dynamic policymaking that supports continual detection and remediation improvement over time, minimizing ongoing management and task effort.
Enhances Email Security
Automation helps ensure better, faster, and more uniform threat identification before the security team begins manual analysis and remediation. In addition, faster assessment enhances security, enabling the platform and security teams to implement updated policies that catch future instances of the same threat or attack method.
Furthermore, relying solely on human eyes remains the Achilles heel for cybersecurity. Human error can be the determining factor in a BEC or phishing attack being successful. Pairing human insight with ML prevents threats from slipping through the cracks and improves the organization’s overall security posture.
Saves Time for Security Teams
Sometimes, improving security comes at the cost of reducing access ease or process speed. That’s certainly not the case for abuse mailbox remediation. The time-consuming nature of manual analysis already poses the primary challenge. Therefore, adding another security layer that pre-screens flagged emails only optimizes workflows.
Automated abuse mailbox remediation recovers time across:
- Triaging user-reported email threats to the abuse mailbox
- Deciphering the content and context of each message using language models
- Determining appropriate remediation
- Performing remediation across the email campaign (e.g., similar or matching emails sent to different recipients)
- Sending custom emails to end users about the remediation action taken – enhancing email reporting volume and accuracy
Reduces False Positives
False positives are a normal side effect of any process that relies on rigid machine detection or human interpretation, as any criteria deemed threatening can lead to quarantine.
Moreover, abuse mailbox automation assisted by ML helps screen for false positives and continually improves its detection capabilities. So, despite the rising number of threats and forwards to an abuse mailbox, organizations can better keep pace as their email analysis capabilities improve.
Remediates User-Reported Threats Quickly
Abuse mailbox automation provides three primary ways for security teams to accelerate the remediation processes for end user-reported threats:
- Historical data and improved detection – Enhanced with ML capabilities, abuse mailbox automation capabilities continuously improve over time, with continuous data collection. Automatically remediating known or recurring threats alleviates the burden these threats cause to security teams, allowing them to focus on tasks that need human review.
- Context-filled reports – Before performing remediation, security teams must understand if flagged emails pose a legitimate threat, what those threats are, and how many instances jeopardize the organization. Automation generates reports with this information, enabling security teams to assess and initiate remediation quickly.
- Bulk remediation – With manual processes, analysis and remediation for each email take the same amount of time, regardless of the number of messages. Machine learning adapts instead, detecting similar messages and automatically remediating them the same way.
Automate Abuse Mailbox Processes with Armorblox
As crucial as the abuse mailbox is to an organization’s cybersecurity, it often poses a massive challenge for security teams. As both BEC attempts and employee awareness increase, the abuse mailbox fills up, inundating your security team with busywork.
If your security finds itself too bogged down with managing flagged emails, automation provides the solution. Armorblox provides security operations teams with a 75-97% reduction in response times for user-reported threats.
We protect over 58,000 organizations from today’s emerging email threats. Our language models understand the content and context of each email communication, providing better detection and remediation out of the box. However, we also work with our partners to customize deployment to their specific needs and operations.
Take our Security Operations product tour to learn more about Armorblox features and solutions that save security teams valuable time.