E-mail is extremely helpful, which is why it is still used by all of us. But chief among its downsides is that email remains one of the most common routes for hackers to attack companies.
Despite the evident advantages of email, it has a big drawback: poor cybersecurity. In reality, email is often targeted by cybercriminals and fraudsters as a mission-critical application for organizations everywhere.
Around one in every hundred messages sent is a malicious attempt at hacking and prone tophishing attacks. That may not seem like a big number, but it adds up as millions of messages are sent every day-especially when it just takes one worker to fall victim to a phishing email and potentially contributes to the compromise of a whole organization.
In fact, in the last five years, the FBI has estimated that intentional attacks on business emails have cost organizations over $12 billion. For hackers, that is a huge number.
Naturally, the prevalence of email has made it central to illegal schemes such as company email compromise (BEC) and phishing.
Why is email phishing the biggest security threat?
For connectivity and efficiency, companies have come to rely on cloud-based email and file-sharing applications. But too often, owners and executives fail to understand that these platforms’ built-in security does not provide adequate protection against email phishing attacks. Besides this, workers are not adequately equipped to protect themselves against sneaky techniques of social engineering.
What is the current email threat landscape?
There are various forms of vectors of attack used to threaten email systems by hackers. Let’s look at the common techniques that endanger the protection of emails:
Spam- The unsolicited type referred to as junk mail or spam is often bad email. But the issue for many small to medium-sized enterprises (SMBs) is not so much to remain on top of getting-rich-quick schemes such as the “Nigerian prince” scam but to deal with unsolicited emails containing suspicious links or attachments of malware.
Identity theft- This is the act of stealing and using personal information for malicious purposes: names, addresses, social security numbers, passwords and more. Identity theft can happen to anyone.
Phishing- This is a tactic involving the processing of personal data using misleading emails and websites. The aim is to trick the recipient into opening an obviously legitimate email and tempting them to click on malicious links or download an attachment that will lead to a website that gathers information unexpectedly.
Ransomware- Many forms of ransomware are distributed via email and are all too popular these days. It is a type of malicious software that, by encrypting it until the victim pays the attacker a ransom fee, blocks access to a computer system or file. The ransom comes with a deadline in many situations, and if not paid on time, the data is gone forever.
What is Phishing?
A cyberattack that uses concealed email as a tool is phishing. The aim is to trick the recipient of the email into thinking that the message is something they want or need, such as a request from their bank or a note from someone in their business, and to click a connection or download an attachment.
Types Of Phishing
If phishing attacks have a common denominator, that’s the disguise. The attackers spoof their email address so that it appears to come from someone else, set up fake websites that look like the trusts of the victims, and use international character sets to obscure URLs.
Spear phishing is when attackers try to craft a message to appeal to a particular user. Instead of casting only a baited hook in the water to see who bites, the picture is of a fisherman looking for one particular fish.
Phishers determine their goals (sometimes using data on sites such as LinkedIn) and use spoofed addresses to send emails that might seem believable to co-workers. The spear phisher, for example, might target someone in the finance department and pretend to be the manager of the victim demanding a major bank transfer on short notice.
Whale phishing, or whaling, is a type of spear phishing aimed at CEOs or other high-value targets for very large fish. Many of these scams target board members of the company, who are considered especially vulnerable: inside a company, they have a lot of authority, but because they are not full-time employees.
For business-related communication, which does not have the protections given by corporate email, they also use personal email addresses.
Clone phishing allows the attacker to generate an almost identical copy of a legitimate message in order to trick the target into believing that it is genuine. The email is sent from an address close to the legitimate sender, and the message body looks the same as the message body. The only difference is that a malicious one has been switched out with the attachment or the connection in the message.
To justify why the victim got the “same” message again, the attacker might say something along the lines of having to resend the original or a revised version.
Vishing stands for “voice phishing” and the use of the phone is involved. Usually, the victim receives a call from a financial institution with a voice message disguised as a contact. For instance, for protection or other official purposes, the message may ask the recipient to call a number and enter their account details or PIN.
The phone number, however, rings via a voice-over-IP service straight to the attacker.
Protecting your email communications begins with the correct security strategy. This includes the introduction of proper security policies, software, email filtering systems with features such as spam detection protocols, strict anti-phishing laws, and user-based filter settings. These are some strategies for phishing attack prevention.
These solutions are designed to remove email threats until they compromise the protection of the network and reduce the productivity of employees.
However, policies and resources aren’t adequate. When your employees are targeted, they need to be capable enough to identify such phishing and suspicious emails. Security teams must first train users to identify, avoid and report suspicious emails in order to stop spear phishing attacks. It is crucial for any employee to recognize that their roles give them access to a lot of different information in the information economy currency.
Based on our strong understanding of the business context and mailing ecosystem, we at ProgIST, have developed a unique cloud-platform “ProPhish”. We offer ProPhish based Employee Awareness Programme (P.E.A.P) which addresses the key lacunas mentioned in this article. Some of the key features included in the programme are:
Email remains at the heart of millions of workers’ everyday workflows, and keeping it secure is an ever-growing task. Fortunately, in response to the current wave of threats, email protection mechanisms have evolved. PROGIST provides a suite of email security solutions, which includes ProPHISH that can help educate your employees on what to do when they receive phishing emails . Get started with us today!