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Avoiding the Pitfalls of the Abuse Mailbox

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Challenges with the typical abuse-mailbox practice

An abuse mailbox plays a critical role for any organization, providing a destination for users to send messages that they find suspicious for security and messaging teams investigate. However, for many security teams the abuse mailbox can end up as a source of frustration.

End-users can be trained on process and where to forward their messages, but inevitably, some are going to forget or misunderstand the process. Whether that’s forwarding to the wrong destination, or sending over text portions of the email, it doesn’t provide SOC/IR teams with the information they need to make informed decisions, like headers, attachments and URLs. On top of this, many teams find themselves sorting through a huge volume of mail that’s not malicious, but simply bulk or marketing email.

The end result for security and messaging teams is a lot of work and time spent organizing and investigating the abuse mailbox, sifting through a large number of bulk messages in the search for legitimate threats. Once a legitimate threat is located, many teams then rely on disparate tools and manual research to enrich these messages with vital information like URLs, attachment, file hashing, IOCs and more. Teams can end up spending an hour on a single message. And the more time it takes to investigate, the more time a potential attacker can be in your environment doing nefarious things.

When it comes time to remediate, the process for the average team is similarly manual and time consuming. Most rely on external tools and manual scripts to follow the messages’ spread throughout an organization, in order to fully understand how far a suspicious message has gone. Unfortunately, due to the manual nature of this process, many security and messaging teams end up only partially identifying the full extent of these threat campaigns. Because of this, it can be quite common for the threat to resurface, causing teams to have to continually repeat this process to fully handle a threat.

Taking the burden off your security and messaging teams

Proofpoint’s Closed Loop Email Analysis and Response (CLEAR) solution removes the abuse mailbox burden across your organization, from end-users to security and messaging teams.

With CLEAR, the need for extensive abuse mailbox training is completely removed. End-users don’t have to remember any details or processes for the abuse mailbox – as part of CLEAR, Proofpoint’s Phish Alarm button requires just a single click from directly within their mail client to report a suspicious message. They’ll also be encouraged to continue this behavior with positive reinforcement, automatically receiving a message that informs them if the message was indeed malicious and that thanks them for reporting the message and helping to keep the organization safe.

For your security and messaging teams, the need to manually enrich messages with separate tools is completely removed, with all user reported messages automatically quarantined and enriched with Proofpoint’s industry leading threat intelligence.

CLEAR also makes remediation easier and much more efficient because it includes Proofpoint’s Threat Response Auto Pull, which automatically pulls malicious messages from user’s inboxes, including following all forwards and any distribution lists. This reduces the burden for teams to manually investigate and use custom scripts in an attempt fully follow messages. Automated remediation also eliminates the problem of only identifying partial campaigns, improving security effectiveness. With Proofpoint’s CLEAR solution, you can improve your security posture while saving time and resources dedicated to the abuse mailbox.

To learn more about Proofpoint’s CLEAR solution, download our datasheet here.