9 top anti-phishing tools and services

Some of these solutions will help find and stop phishing emails before they can cause damage, while others will find phishers fraudulently using your business's brand.

Phishing attack   >   A fish hook hover above binary code with a caution triangle.
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Phishing ranks low on the list of cyberattacks in terms of technological sophistication. Even more sophisticated phishing variants like spear phishing (focused and often personalized phishing attacks) and whaling (phishing attacks focused on high-profile or high-dollar targets) are focused more on social engineering than on technology.

Yet phishing remains one of the most effective types of attacks because it bypasses many network and endpoint protections. End-user training helps, but so can tools that detect and prevent phishing attacks.

Why phishing is successful

Phishing and its variants are ultimately social engineering attacks, intended to convince end users of either the requestor’s trustworthiness, the request’s urgency, or both. Trustworthiness is established through things like official-looking emails, login pages or even contact names the user will recognize and trust. Phishing attempts often try to influence the victim’s judgement by manipulating their emotional state, making claims about accounts that are already compromised or suggesting that business or financial disaster is imminent if timely action is not taken.

A 2019 FBI public service announcement calls out business email compromise (BEC) as the source of over $26 billion in losses over a three-year span. Phishing attacks frequently result in compromised system credentials, which can then become a significant attack vector against a range of business systems. Financial information (or even money transfers) are also a target of many phishing attacks.

Risks involved with phishing attacks are not limited to having your business users cough up sensitive information. Businesses also need to be aware that their customers are potentially vulnerable to phishing attacks using their brand and realize that these attacks could also result in system compromise and even damage to the corporate brand.

How to protect your business against phishing

Before you implement an anti-phishing solution, make sure you’ve taken some basic measures to mitigate the risk from phishing. Standard protocols for authenticating email and preventing spam and email spoofing — SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) — are freely available and relatively easy to implement. These protocols won’t remove the threat of phishing, but they will make life more difficult for the opposition.

Requiring multi-factor authentication (MFA) can prevent many credential-based attacks. If a phishing attack does gain credentials, requiring additional authentication likely means they go no further.

Cloud email solutions like Microsoft 365 and Google G Suite have built-in rules and policies that enhance phishing prevention. They also compare your messages to the billions of others they process daily to identify malicious intent. On-premises email servers like Microsoft Exchange have tools to prevent malicious email.

Finally, training is a must for both business users and customers. Phishing attempts might try to reach customers through social media or even SMS messages (smishing), which you have very little chance to stop from a technical standpoint, making customer awareness a key defense against phishing attacks.

With these measures in place, the tools and services listed below will further enhance your ability to detect and stop phishing phishing attacks.

1. BrandShield Anti-Phishing

BrandShield Anti-Phishing focuses on brand protection and corporate trust. its toolset monitors social media and other focal points to detect phishing sites or brand impersonation (even looking for your corporate logo) and responding with takedown requests and adding these malicious sites to various anti-phishing blacklists.

2. RSA FraudAction

RSA FraudAction also detects and mitigates phishing sites masquerading as your business. RSA scans for these phony sites, while also leveraging its partner network to identify and disable fake sites through shutdown and blacklisting. RSA prices FraudAction based on attack volume (purchased in buckets of takedowns).

3. Avanan

Avanan is one of several SaaS platforms that enhances the security of Office 365, G Suite and others. Since Avanan is cloud-based and connects to your Office 365 or G Suite instance using APIs, it is efficient to set up and can also protect more than just email — for example, monitoring user and platform configurations and even watching for changes to files in cloud storage. Avanan’s anti-phishing suite starts at $4 monthly per user, which includes email filtering, account takeover protection, and configuration security.

4. Barracuda Sentinel

Barracuda Sentinel is another SaaS tool that integrates tightly with Office 365 (no G Suite support). Barracuda monitors inbound email and identifies accounts that may have become compromised, remediating these accounts by detecting and deleting malicious emails sent to other internal users, notifying external recipients, locking the account, and even investigating inbox rules that may have been created by the malicious user. Barracuda Sentinel is licensed based on users or active mailboxes.

5. IRONSCALES

IRONSCALES augments your existing email security by combining AI-based identification and human interaction (through notifications) to quickly respond to potential attacks while simultaneously limiting false positives. Admins also gain intelligence on both the nature and scope of the threat including how many mailboxes were targeted and how many users reported the email. IRONSCALES also offers tools for emulation/simulation as well as user training. IRONSCALES’ pricing starts at $5 per mailbox, with flexible tiers across a range of business sizes.

6. Mimecast

Mimecast offers an email security platform that includes a full complement of services for protecting your organization from phishing attacks, including brand protection, as well as both anti-phishing protection and backup for your enterprise email services to help you maintain service continuity in case of a successful attack. Mimecast also has training solutions for your end users to help protect your business from any attacks that may slip through your defenses. Mimecast pricing starts at $3 monthly per user with discounts available based on volume.

7. Microsoft Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is the go-to email security service for a big percentage of enterprise users, thanks in no small part to the fact that it is included as part of quite a few Office 365 service levels. While many of the other solutions on this list tout their AI-backed protection, none are capable of feeding that AI with the same amount of data Microsoft handles on a daily basis. Office 365 ATP starts at $2 monthly per user with an annual commitment and bumps up to $5 monthly for features involving advanced investigations, automated response, and attack simulation.

8. PhishProtection

PhishProtection offers services running the gamut, including features and capabilities such as email protection for hosted and on-prem email, real-time integration with six trust databases, attachment and URL scanning (including URLs contained in attachments and shortened URLs), and phishing attempts that use domain or vendor impersonation. PhishProtection even provides training and simulation for an additional fee (starting at $500 annually for 25 users).

9. Sophos Email

Sophos Email leverages both policy and AI-based detection in their SaaS platform, and features a self-service portal to allow users to safely manage their quarantines. Sophos can also identify users who exhibit risky behavior and assign simulation-based training to mitigate further risk from these users. Sophos Email has a starting cost of $22.50 annually per user, with both volume and term length discounts available.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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