What is Sandboxing and Why It is Vital to Data Security?

One wrong click on an email and an entire network can be infiltrated by a virus, ransomware, or another type of malware. Unfortunately, this happens all too often in offices across the country.

Phishing emails continue to be the number one cause of data breaches, accounting for 90% of them. All a hacker has to do is fool a user into thinking a link or attachment in an email is legitimate, and they can easily breach a network to steal all types of sensitive data.

76% of businesses reported being hit by a phishing attack in 2018.

Email security and anti-phishing protection are important safeguards against becoming the victim of a cyberattack. One of the key tools used to help protect users from malicious items lurking in their inboxes is a technology called “sandboxing.”

Sandboxing helps bolster your users by catching suspicious emails that may look normal to users. Phishing hackers use adept disguise tactics, utilizing logos and signatures that are identical to a legitimate company. This makes it even harder for even savvy team members to tell the difference between a legitimate email and a fake. But with an email security program that uses sandboxing, they don’t have to.  

What is Sandboxing?

Sandboxing technology is designed to use advanced intelligence and deep learning to detect malware in email messages and malicious website links. The suspicious message is then placed in an isolated environment and observed to see if it’s a threat.

If it is, the program can then neutralize and remove it, without it having caused any damage or infection to your system.

Because sandboxing applications are designed to look for suspicious behavior, not just match a code to a known threat signature, they are particularly useful for detecting and protecting against “zero-day threats,” which simply means a malware that hasn’t been seen before and isn’t in any signature database.

Showing a Threat’s True Colors

The word “sandboxing” comes from the idea of playing in a sandbox, and that’s exactly what the program creates for viruses and other malicious code. Many forms of malware are designed to “play nice” when they first enter a device so a standard anti-virus program can’t detect them.

They wait until they’re past a computer or firewall’s defenses before they show their true colors and do their damage. 

A sandbox emulates a computer environment, creating a virtual sandbox for the malicious code to come out and play in. The sandbox is quarantined so any threats in the sandbox can’t infect your computer or network. The malicious code thinks it’s already made it past any defenses and is safely in your computer so it shows its true intentions and the software can immediately recognize it as a threat and neutralize it.

There are three key types of sandbox implementation which may be appropriate for different types of organizations. These include:

  • Full System Emulation: The sandbox creates an environment that looks just like the host machine’s entire physical hardware, including memory and CPU.
  • Operating System Emulation: Just the user’s operating system is simulated, but not the hardware.
  • Virtualization: This tactic uses a virtual machine-based sandbox for containing threats.

Why Sandboxing is Important for Strong Email Security 

If you use a basic anti-virus or anti-malware program on your office computers, that may not be enough to keep up with the hackers who are creating new threats every day. 

In 2018, 76% of successful breaches of organization endpoints were zero-day (i.e. previously unknown threats).

Here are key reasons to use an email security application that uses sandboxing.

Stronger Protection from the Unknown

Most of those basic software programs are using a threat signature database in order to identify threats, but that doesn’t help if it’s a zero-day attack that it’s never seen before. Sandboxing is designed to detect unknown threats through observation and learned behavior, making it much more effective against zero-day attacks.

Stops Threats Before They Get to the User

Even the smartest user can get fooled by a phishing email, especially on a busy day, and end up making one wrong click that infects your entire network. Email security that uses sandboxing can send all mail with unknown URL links, attachments, or suspicious senders through the sandbox to ensure they’re safe before they ever reach your employees’ inboxes.

Proactive Threat Management Rather Than Reactive

With malware being designed to go into “stealth mode” until activated, it means you can have a trojan or spyware on your system for years without even knowing it. Basic anti-virus programs tend to be reactive, waiting until something happens or matches a threat signature before reacting.

Sandboxing is much more proactive, putting any type of suspicious email or attachment into an environment that invites the malicious code to show itself. So, with sandboxing, the application is hunting down threats rather than waiting for them to attack.

Get Help with Email, Phishing, and Spam Defense

Statistically, your team’s email inboxes are the first place an attack is going to happen. Don’t leave them unprotected! Technology Visionaries can help protect your business from all that’s out there with solutions for phishing, malware, spam and more.

Schedule a free security consultation today by calling 732-587-5960 or contacting us online.