How many emails did you open at work today? Twenty? Fifty? Did you examine each one to make sure it was secure? Even if you did, it might not be enough. Now more than ever, preventing a costly breach and keeping malware out means identifying and blocking malicious email.

Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, email security specialists Agari are leading the charge in the fight against email-based infiltration. A favorite means of communication for businesses, email has become the hacker’s favorite point of entry. Almost 90% of all data breaches begin when an unknowing employee opens an email they believe is legitimate. Agari aims to stop this trend by never showing you that email.

Seeing Through the Disguise

Agari uses reputation-based scanning to identify fraudulent email. Hackers often impersonate company higher-ups, for example a VP or department chair, to entice you to open a message and download malware. The technique is commonly called spear-phishing, and can be extremely difficult to identify just by scanning an email’s contents.

The secret weapon Agari uses to spot and block such disguised emails is a combination of global sender telemetry and reputation-based trust analytics. In simple terms, Agari compares the physical origin of an email that says it’s from your boss with the physical origin of other, legitimate emails from your boss. This and other unique factors are taken into account, and Agari software can filter out would-be attacks through comparison.

Attackers do their research using social media sites and social engineering, but they can’t change coordinates and signature of a computer. Agari software compiles these traits to create a database of trusted and untrusted senders. This allows Agari to deliver up-to-the-minute protection for every one of their clients by scanning every piece of new email against the existing reputation database.

Moving Forward

Speaking of clients, the list of clients under Agari’s protection might impress you. PayPal, Facebook, Groupon and LinkedIn are just a few of the companies who make use of Agari security. The average businessperson sends and receives 122 emails every day. With more office-free businesses popping up, our reliance on email is only growing.

Despite a recent downturn in funding for cyber-security ventures, Agari has managed to secure $22 million in class D funding to continue to bring the fight to cyber-criminals. Investors noted that Agari customers are consistently able to remain secure. Even Agari themselves are the regular target of attacks, most notably those from “Bad Pat,” their CEO’s evil twin.

In a recent study by Forbes, 46% of businesses polled had suffered damage to their brand and reputation because of a security breach. That number might be acceptable in a world where these attacks come as a surprise, but in the fast moving world of business, those who can’t protect their clients (or their own) data will soon suffer the consequences. Which is why Agari is taking steps to end phishing permanently.

Turning the Tables

If you own a business or head up an IT team, your interest in software like Agari’s goes as far as protecting your (and your customer’s) investments. For pioneers of cyber-security like Agari, it’s not enough to remain on defense. The Internet today has been compared to the Wild West — even when laws are passed, enforcing them is rarely possible.

In 2013, Agari worked with the FBI to bring down the Citadel botnet, a criminal operation with a presence in over 90 countries. Through the continued development of their reputation-based system, Agari and companies like them play a crucial role in changing the way we stop cyber-crime. Rather than treat the symptoms, the information they gather allows governments to stop these operations at the source.

You might think it’s the Wild West now, but there’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s heard all about your reputation.

Image by Benjamin Child