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Mergers and Acquisitions: Why Email Security Must Be a Priority

  • 05 August 2021

Tessian’s mission is to secure the human layer by empowering people to do their best work, without security getting in their way.

The buying and selling of companies is big business, but there are a lot of moving parts to manage. One area you don’t want to overlook is email security. 

Why? Because email is the primary communication channel for M&A communications, and throughout the event, dozens of stakeholders will send thousands of emails containing personnel information, board documents, private equity, and other top secret merger and acquisition intelligence.

If just one email lands in the wrong hands, or if one employee goes rogue, the entire transaction could be disrupted, compliance standards could be violated, and your organization could lose customer trust.   

Keep reading to learn why M&A events introduce added risk to organizations, and how to overcome new security challenges. 

Why do Mergers and Acquisition events create more security risks for organizations?

According to Gartner analyst Paul Furtado, there are four key reasons M&A events create more security complexity for organizations:

  1. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are driven by potential synergies, which can be gained in cost efficiencies, growth opportunities or market share increases. But, these may lead to conflicts among long-held security paradigms by either party
  2. The disruption of the M&A transaction, along with the postclose technical changes required, can expand the current attack surface significantly
  3. Following transaction close, at least temporarily, security must be maintained in three separate operating environments: sunset, future-mode, and transition processes
  4. Potential M&A outcomes and the secrecy surrounding them also leads to employee angst and uncertainty, which may lead to rogue or damaging employee actions or a loss of key employees

What are the key email security challenges in Mergers and Acquisitions?

In order to understand how to prevent data loss, security leaders first need to understand where they’re most vulnerable. Both inbound and outbound email security should be a priority, and threat visibility is essential.

1. Increased Risk of Accidental Disclosure of Sensitive Information

During M&A transactions, it’s important that organizations be able to control where sensitive information is being sent and to whom. Often, emails and attachments can be sent to the wrong people, resulting in accidental data loss.

2. Inbound Email Attacks Such as Phishing, Impersonation and Account Takeover

Email is typically the first to deliver initial URLs, in the form of an exploit kit or phishing website, attachments in the form of payloads, or a starting point for social engineering attacks. This puts sensitive information within organizations at tremendous risk of a data breach. Tessian covers these attacks using three proven and differentiated approaches — threat prevention, education and awareness, and reducing the overall burden on security operations centers.

3. Increased Risk of Data Exfiltration by Internal Stakeholders

M&A transactions significantly increase the number of people exchanging information through email. This increases the attack surface and the risk of more sensitive information being sent outside the organization. Whether it’s an employee sending sensitive M&A data to less secure, personal accounts, or a bad leaver maliciously exfiltrating information, Tessian automatically detects any kind of data exfiltration and non-compliant activity on emails. 

4. Difficulty in Maintaining Control and Visibility of the Email Environment

With many new stakeholders becoming included during M&A transactions, it can be difficult to obtain visibility into which employees and third-parties are exchanging information through emails. Organizations need to be able to identify all the people-centric security threats related to your email environment and view them in a single dashboard for easy remediation. This includes complete insight into accidental data loss, insider threats, advanced phishing attacks, and zero-day threats facing your organization.

How does Tessian help protect information and communications related to Mergers and Acquisitions?

Stop outbound data loss: Tessian Guardian is the industry’s only solution that automatically prevents accidental data loss from misdirected emails and misattached files (sending wrong attachments over email). 

Guardian compares millions of data points for every outbound email and detects anomalies that indicate whether the email is being sent to the wrong person or if a wrong document is being attached and alerts the user before the email is sent.

Learn more.

Stop data exfiltration: Tessian Enforcer is the industry’s first solution that uses machine learning to automatically prevent data exfiltration via email to employee personal, unauthorized and non-business accounts. 

Powered by Tessian’s proprietary Human Layer Security Engine, Enforcer analyzes millions of data points for every outbound email and detects anomalies that indicate data exfiltration before it leaves your organization. Tessian Enforcer notification messages can be customized to reinforce security awareness and data protection policies through in-the-moment training. 

Learn more.

Prevent inbound email attacks: Tessian Defender is a comprehensive inbound email security solution that automatically prevents a wide range of attacks that bypass Secure Email Gateways (SEGs), while providing in-the-moment training to drive employees toward secure email behavior. 

Defender protects against both known and unknown email attacks, including business email compromise, account takeover, spear phishing, and all impersonation attacks that bypass SEGs, M365, and G Suite.

Learn more.

Threat visibility: With the Human Layer Risk Hub, SRM leaders will be able to quantify risk levels, pinpoint their high risk user groups, perform targeted remediation at scale, measure impact, and demonstrate progress in lowering risks posed by employees.

Learn More.

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