Email Security Over the Years

Email Security

BY: Justin Carter

Email security has grown over the years and is one of the most critical aspects of business communication today. Did you know that 68% of business leaders believe that their cybersecurity risk is increasing? Did you know that 9 out of 10 cyberattacks begin with phishing emails? Email and cybersecurity are in a constant state of growth and evolution. Did you know that the term "phishing" didn't exist until AOL began using the term in 1996? Let’s take a look at the progression of email security over the past 20 years.


In the early 2000s, spam emails consisted of plain text messages.  Early spam emails were sent directly by the spammer or were sent through open email relays. Receiving spam emails would simply slow down a user's email client, and in turn, their internet speeds. To solve this issue, anti-spam companies began using “spam signatures”. These “spam signatures” were manually created rules written inside operation centers.

The "Spam Signatures" approach would provide two different results. In most cases, spam emails would get blocked as long as it matches an existing "Spam Signature". If no existing signature for that type of spam, the user would receive the email as normal. This dated approach could only last so long. At that time, spam was averaging 2.4 billion messages a day. Anti-spam solutions needed to catch spam emails before it entered the user's network. It was impractical to allow the delivery of malicious email and only make changes after email phishing happened.


With the introduction of machine learning (a tool that helps analyze large amounts of data), Anti-Spam solutions had a fighting chance. Now, there was a more efficient way to protect against spam. During this time, machine learning would become a key technology in blocking junk emails.

As spam evolved from plain text to messages including images, documents, and attachments, new anti-spam protection layers needed to be introduced. Some of these protection layers included email reputation services, IP profilers, and anti-spam composite engines. These layers worked well along with the help of machine learning algorithms to perform in-depth file analyses to keep spam away from enterprises.


Twenty years ago, spam only accounted for 8% of all email. Today, spam emails account for nearly 90% of all email messages. The number of Spam emails is still both growing and spreading, but one way to prevent phishing and email spam is through encryption.


Email security has come a long way since its inception. One of the most effective advancements has been with email encryption protocols. These email protocols used to simply transmit emails in plain text, however, that posed a huge security risk. Over the years, a variety of different mechanisms have been created to encrypt the communication between email servers. Email encryption can be carried out in two ways:

  • Transport Layer Encryption (TLS): TLS encryption is easier to use, and is a widely adopted security protocol.  One use can be to encrypt communication between web applications and servers (ex: browsers and loading a website). You can also use it for messaging and VoIP.

  • End-to-End Encryption: This is a system where communicating users can only read the messages. Overall, it prevents telecom providers, Internet providers, and even the providers of the communication service from eavesdropping or from being able to decrypt the conversation or access cryptographic keys.


Email encryption and the world of IT has vastly changed in the last twenty years. FUSE3 can help you with encryption services, but also IT Security & Monitoring, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Phishing detection, and more! To start protecting your business and valuable data, contact FUSE3 to find out about our services: 916-480-7720.


  • Worldwide spending on cybersecurity is forecasted to reach $133.7 billion in 2022. (Gartner)
  • 62% of businesses experienced phishing and social engineering attacks in 2018. (Cybint Solutions)
  • 68% of business leaders feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing. (Accenture)
  • Only 5% of companies’ folders are properly protected, on average. (Varonis)
  • Data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records in the first half of 2019. (RiskBased)
  • 71% of data breaches are financially motivated while only 25% are motivated by espionage.  (Verizon)
  • 52% of breaches featured hacking, 28% involved malware, and 32–33% included phishing or social engineering, respectively. (Verizon)
  • Between January 1, 2005, and April 18, 2018, there have been 8,854 recorded breaches. (ID Theft Resource Center)
  • While overall ransomware infections were down 52%, enterprise infections were up by 12% in 2018. (Symantec)
  • The top malicious email attachment types are .doc and .dot which make up 37%, the next highest is .exe at 19.5%. (Symantec)
  • By 2020, the estimated number of passwords used by humans and machines worldwide will grow to 300 billion. (Cybersecurity Media)


For more information about FUSE3, our managed IT services, cloud computing solutions, IT consulting, and virtual CIO services, please complete and submit the form. A FUSE3 representative will contact you soon. For a faster response, call us at  916-484-1780 and talk with a live person now.

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