Every now and then, an email with a catchy subject line appears in your inbox and you click on it, either because you’re curious about the subject or you assume the sender is trustworthy. Unfortunately, this is how most cyberattacks tend to begin – with a single click. What unfolds next can put your security and that of your business in danger.
Whether you clicked on a link or the unsubscribe button in the email, you potentially opened the door for a cyberattack that could hold your business’ future hostage. According to ProofPoint’s Human Factor 2019 report, more than 99% of cyberattacks require human interaction to succeed. That’s why email security should be at the very top of your business’ cybersecurity concerns.
This blog explains how cybercriminals weaponize emails, what are the top cyberthreats coming into your inbox, and how you can launch a robust counterattack.
The Art of Cyber Deception
Cybercriminals are hitting their targets by deceiving targets and making them act irresponsibly, especially during the Covid chaos. They are constantly developing and deploying sophisticated social engineering tactics to fool unassuming recipients.
Regarding phishing emails alone, Google reported that 68% of phishing emails blocked by Gmail were new variations that were never seen before.
Cybercrime is constantly evolving to match advancements in technology. Being overconfident about your defenses – or underprepared – is not a viable position anymore. It’s time to adopt a proactive approach rather than a reactive one to counter this deception.
Cyberthreats that Infiltrate Your Inbox Regularly
Let’s take a look at the top cyberthreats that frequently make their way into your inbox and wreak havoc.
Phishing involves hackers deploying various social engineering tactics to tempt users into clicking on malicious links and unwittingly giving up confidential information, such as user credentials. Hackers invest a tremendous amount of effort into assuming the identity of a trusted source, making sure it is YOU who lets them into the system. Once they’re in, they can either install malware on your network’s systems, access and misuse sensitive data, or simply lock your systems and demand a hefty ransom.
Data suggests that this menace is only growing stronger. Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report stated that 22% of all breaches in 2020 involved phishing. Even well-informed users fall prey to such attacks. In a study conducted by BullPhish ID, it was observed that 18.6% of users that clicked on simulated phishing campaigns were willing to submit credentials or requested data.
Business Email Compromise (BEC) and Spear Phishing
In a business email compromise (BEC) scam, the attacker hacks into your business email account to impersonate employees or any of your organization’s important leaders with intent to defraud your company and its stakeholders into sending money or sharing sensitive data. Spear phishing works in a similar fashion wherein the attacker creates a façade that the malicious email originated from a trusted source.
A GreatHorn report stated that BEC attacks ballooned by nearly 100% in 2019. If you want to get an idea about the damage a BEC scam can do to your business, consider the massive financial and reputational loss your business would suffer if an attacker impersonates you and carries out fraudulent activities in your name.
Taking identity impersonation one step further, account takeovers exploit your compromised user credentials to target both your business and financial stability and reputation. Cybercriminals can access bank accounts and financial statements to carry out fraudulent transactions. The 2020 Global Identity and Fraud Report by Experience revealed that 57% of enterprises reported higher fraud losses due to account takeovers.
Malicious Malware and Viruses
Although used interchangeably, malware and viruses differ on technical grounds. Malware refers to any type of malicious software, irrespective of how it works, but a virus is a specific type of malware that self-replicates after entering other programs. Nonetheless, both pose an enormous threat to your business’ IT environment.
CSO Online revealed that 92% of all malware is delivered via email and that’s why we’ve included it in our list. As mentioned earlier, all it takes is a simple click for an attacker to gain access to your network’s systems and plant malware or a virus.
A ransomware attack occurs when a hacker breaches your network’s security, encrypts your data and demands a ransom for the restoration of that data. In Q2 2020, average ransom demands were over $175,000, which was 60% higher than in Q1 2020 and a whopping 432% higher than in Q3 2019.
Investigations performed on previously confirmed Ransomware attacks to date have not shown definitive evidence of theft or exposure of data, only the encryption. However, in 2020 there has been a change in the behavior of Ransomware hits. These cyber bullies are now claiming to export copies of business data BEFORE encrypting it! They are then leveraging an additional blackmail threat to include exposing the data if the ransom demand is not paid.
Even if you opt to pay the ransom, you have no guarantees the attackers would provide the means to decrypt and restore data, nor can you be certain the data will not be sold, exposed or targeted for a direct attack at some later date.
Insider Threats: The Human Element
Insider threats are posed by individuals within your organization or closely related to it, such as current or former employees, vendors and partners. Acting unwittingly or out of malice, they can easily let an attacker into the system, leaving your sensitive data exposed.
In fact, according to Verizon in their 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report, over one-third of data breaches worldwide involved internal actors. An Egress study revealed that 31% of employees have mistakenly sent an email containing sensitive data to the wrong person.
It's Time to Engage All Defenses
A cyberattack takes place almost every 39 seconds (or approximately 2,240 times a day), according to the University of Maryland. That’s why the time to upgrade your email security is NOW. Your business needs to go on the offense with a two-pronged approach – implementing the best cybersecurity solutions and providing your employees with extensive security awareness training.
Now is the time to implement preventative solutions for endpoint security and backups, identity and access management, automated phishing defense, Dark Web monitoring and security awareness training. While a 100% fail-safe approach to cybersecurity isn’t a reality yet, Roebuck Technologies can certainly walk you through a list of best practices that will hold you in good stead for the future.
Let’s talk about them today.