Why Do So Many Cybersecurity Attacks Still Start with an Email? By Will Wisser Posted on February 11, 2022 2 min read 0 5,910 We are never 100% secure from emerging cybersecurity threats that always find their way into our systems. However, one of the most common ways of spreading advanced cyber-attacks is still an email. It’s vital to understand that cybersecurity attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated, meaning that email technologies cannot keep up to date with the best security practices for preventing threats. Both private users and organizations are targeted by cyber threats spread through email. Such threats often result in severe consequences that affect the user’s privacy and the organization’s critical data. For that reason, it’s quintessential to understand and recognize potential threats to be able to mitigate those risks. In this article, we’ll share some interesting facts about why cybersecurity attacks are commonly spread through email and which are the best ways to safeguard our mailboxes from emerging threats. Which Cyber-Attacks are Commonly Spread By Email? Hackers use email to spread different cyber-attacks, including the following ones: Spam: Any “bad” email is considered spam, and you may commonly find it in your Spam or Junk folder. These emails often contain malicious code and target both private users and organizations. In the latter case, spam attacks, like “Nigerian prince,” are more sophisticated. Phishing: A phishing email may look quite legitimate at first glance, which is why users often fall into the trap. They contain links to malicious sites or attachments, hooking users into leaving their personal information to scammers. Phishing may result in financial loss, identity theft, and similar inconveniences. Ransomware: Attackers often use email to spread ransomware. Ransomware is one of the most severe threats that use encryption to block users’ systems and files, requiring a certain amount of money in exchange for the key. Still, there are some ways to decrypt ransomware, too. Business email compromise: This cyber threat aims to hijack the company’s business email to perform fraudulent wire transfers more easily. It is similar to phishing, and it’s easy to execute. One of the greatest reasons hackers target emails to spread their malicious code is that emails often lack sufficient protection and security practices. Although they’re usually neglected, passwords are one of the biggest vulnerabilities hackers exploit to perform their actions. If you want to reduce the risks of email breaches and cybersecurity attacks, we highly recommend using an advanced password manager tool. A password manager is a highly efficient and feature-rich software that helps you create, store, and share strong passwords in a safe and protected manner. You can find many affordable password managers for your unique goals and take your email security to the next level. Besides weak passwords and similar stuff, emails are the hackers’ favorite channel for other reasons. For example: Employees Make Mistakes Employees are humans, and to err is human. However, although employees know most cybersecurity practices and attend cybersecurity awareness training regularly, the reason why they fail to recognize a cyber threat is their carelessness. The truth is that most employees don’t pay attention when they receive an email, which leads to severe inconveniences that put the organization at risk of losing revenue and reputation. It’s recommended that employees don’t use their business email accounts for personal conversations and other purposes and make sure to change passwords from time to time. After all, unprotected passwords often lead to data breaches and other security incidents. Using Business Email Accounts for Personal Purposes Another thing employees often do is use their business email accounts outside the office. Since business accounts may contain sensitive business information and confidential conversations, it’s never advised to use them to share files with friends or family or as a login credential on suspicious websites. Besides, employees should avoid using corporate email addresses on free email services as they often have insufficient security measures and are prone to cyber-attacks. Employees are Reckless The employees’ recklessness contributes to the success of phishing attacks. As we already mentioned, phishing can be easily deployed as it seems like a legitimate email from a reputable company. But only at first glance. If you pay attention to the message itself, you can find many irregularities, grammatical errors, messages starting with Dear User, etc. Once the user clicks the malicious link and leaves their personal information on a sketchy website, their organization’s data are at severe risk. It’s essential to educate employees on how to recognize a phishing email and remind them not to open messages sent from an unknown sender whose email address looks suspicious. Besides, some email filtering features can detect unusual emails and keep them away from your inbox. Cyber Threats Keep Evolving Cybercrime keeps evolving, and hackers always come up with innovative ideas for infecting the users’ systems and stealing valuable data. Besides their well-thought-out strategies, hackers rely on cutting-edge technologies to execute their malicious codes and break even the most sophisticated antimalware systems and protection measures. Unfortunately, most email service providers lack efficient security, which opens the door to many internal and external cyber threats. For that reason, it’s highly recommended to implement additional email filtering solutions, sandboxing, and other tools that could enhance your email protection and keep hackers from your mailboxes. Insufficient Security Eventually, the reason why companies get breached is that they often take cybersecurity for granted. When it comes to emails, they get a great deal of spam and malicious emails they don’t know how to handle, which results in a disaster. Both enterprises and SMBs must implement the best cybersecurity measures to ensure their vital systems, networks, and digital assets are safe and no one can access them through email. Conclusion: Dealing with Email-Based Threats The only way to defeat advanced email-based threats is to implement the most efficient cybersecurity measures – including security policies and tools – to protect mailboxes and sensitive communication. Features like spam detection protocol, anti-phishing rules, and advanced filter settings can certainly help, but the true safety lies in education. So, invest in your employees’ education on cybersecurity and remind them to take these matters seriously – after all, sensitive data, financial information, reputation, and identity are at stake.