By Fortra's Agari | January 25, 2023
Email fraud is on the rise. Phishing emails were the most often used attack type last year, according to numerous reports, including the ENISA Threat Landscape 2022 report. The highest financial losses are reportedly attributable to phishing and business email compromise (BEC) assaults, in which the attacker poses as a coworker or senior executive at a company via email.
Email scams are so popular among criminals for a variety of valid reasons. To begin with, email is a common tool in all enterprises and industries. Email has become such a staple of our daily lives that we frequently use it mindlessly. We send files containing sensitive information to customers and coworkers, pay invoices, check the most recent promos at our favorite stores, and finalize deals via email.
Due to cybercriminals’ awareness of this, email has become every company’s biggest weakness. If your company doesn’t invest in further email protection beyond the basic antispam features of your server, it might be time to reconsider. How can you persuade your company’s leadership and stakeholders that it’s time to invest in a comprehensive email security approach? One that is supported by
- an advanced email security platform with real-time intelligence to block even the trickiest phishing messages, and by
- a vigorous training program to help your employees spot and report phishing attempts before they become a threat?
Here are eight reasons that can help you gain this valuable buy-in.
1. More people are falling for phishing
As humans, we are essentially predisposed to fall for phishing emails because their creators know just how to play on our emotions and subconscious biases. “43% of participants took the bait at least once, and 11.9% clicked more than once,” found a study by the University of Florida. It is the goal of phishers for their targets to “make a fast, not a thoughtful decision.” Heuristics, or mental shortcuts, are commonly used by phishing emails to trick us into giving up sensitive information.
2. Attacks are becoming more convincing
Modern social engineering attacks are quickly taking over as standard. Compared to the classic “spray and pray” strategy, highly focused spear-phishing attacks are more profitable since they are more likely to avoid conventional security protections and are more challenging for the average employee to identify. For instance, BEC emails deceived more employees than emails that purported to be from well-known companies.
3. Remote workforce increases the chances of a successful phishing scam
Remote workers rely more heavily on email for communicating with their employers, customers, and vendors. This increases the attack surface as cyber criminals take advantage of the increased reliance on email. In addition, employees are more likely to make mistakes, such as sending an email to the wrong person, which could disclose sensitive customer or corporate information.
4. Mental burnout is an ally to phishers
One of the reasons behind the “Great Resignation” is that employees feel more stressed, and their mental health is in nadir. Mental burnout can have serious repercussions for business security, as overwhelmed employees are more susceptible to making mistakes, such as sending emails that compromise the business security policies. Experts have noted that when people are overworked and exhausted, their mental loads become too great for them to handle. This makes them less likely to recognize the warning indications of a phishing assault or to verify that they have the correct email address before submitting. Likewise, cybercriminals are aware of this, which is why they typically send phishing emails later in the day.
5. The impact on business customers
According to statistics, when employees send emails to the incorrect recipient, they not only run the risk of jeopardizing security, but 29% of firms have also lost a client or customer as a result. This is because they betrayed the trust they had established by notifying the affected client of the inadvertent data loss. Revenue and brand reputation are both significantly impacted by this.
6. Traditional email security is not adequate to stop advanced phishing attacks
Due to their reliance on predetermined rules and recognized threats, traditional email security solutions are no longer capable of defending against the sophisticated cyberattacks of the present era. NCSC cites research that found that out of 1800 malicious emails, 50 phishing scams with an infected attachment made it past the email security solution and into the inboxes of employees. This is because fraudsters can utilize state-of-the-art techniques to breach employees’ inboxes while simultaneously figuring out how to circumvent the regulations set up to prevent them.
7. Training is not a panacea
Many businesses just offer annual security awareness training as a means of phishing attack defense. If email security training is ever going to result in actual behavioral change among employees, it needs to be contextualized, provided in real-time, frequently, and customized to each particular employee’s job role.
8. Understaffed security teams need to be augmented with automation
It is a common secret that the cybersecurity skills gap impacts the staffing of security teams which are usually understaffed and overwhelmed. The issue is further exacerbated when they are frequently required to manually investigate false positive notifications of suspected emails. Security professionals are searching for automated email security solutions that may reduce the administrative responsibilities security teams currently face so that they can concentrate on the more vital, critical tasks at hand.
Because email is the lifeblood of a business, it is also its most vulnerable channel to attack. Since fraudsters will always take advantage of email’s accessibility and enhance their techniques for breaking into businesses, companies should think about how to effectively protect their employees from the threats lurking in inboxes.
Helping the board and other stakeholders understand how vital email security is and what is at risk if it is neglected is essential. Part of the solution is creating awareness around email risk.
Take our Email Security Self-Assessment
To help people better understand their email security risks, we have created a self-assessment questionnaire.