Cost of email security attacks
75% of organizations surveyed as part of the 2023 Email Trends Report say they have fallen victim to at least one email attack over the last 12 months, facing average costs of more than one million dollars to recover from the most expensive attacks. The financial fallout from email security attacks comes in a variety of forms.
“Loss of productivity, intellectual property, data, client trust, and financial resources are the primary costs businesses face after falling victim to one of these attacks,” says Brian Schlechter, Managed IT Services Technical Team Manager at Bit-Wizards. “There are also extreme cases where equipment is damaged, or companies get sued.”
Email security risks come in many forms, and now more than ever, companies of all sizes need to be prepared. As email attacks become more sophisticated and harder to detect, 26% of organizations have increased their budgets for email security spend in 2023.
Types of email security threats
There are 13 types of email security threats that both large and small businesses fall victim to every day:
- Spam: Unsolicited bulk email messages sent to many email addresses. Can include scams or email fraud.
- Malware: Emails delivering malicious software or malware, including viruses, trojans, spyware, worms, and ransomware.
- Data exfiltration: Unauthorized transfer of data from one device to another, usually through malicious programming on the internet. Attacks usually aim to access a network or machine.
- URL phishing: Cybercriminals direct email recipients to fake websites that look legitimate. Emails usually encourage you to input sensitive information such as passwords or banking details.
- Scamming: Fraudulent schemes that trick victims into disclosing personal information. Examples include job postings, investment opportunities, inheritance notifications, fund transfers, lottery prizes, and more.
- Spear Phishing: Cybercriminals research their targets to craft targeted emails. Might include impersonation to obtain sensitive information.
- Domain impersonation: Attackers use specific techniques such as typo-squatting or replacing letters in an otherwise legitimate email domain.
- Brand impersonation: Tricks victims into disclosing personal information by impersonating a well-known brand.
- Extortion: Hackers leverage obtained information to pressure a victim into giving them money.
- Business email compromise: A type of phishing attack that targets organizations with the goal of stealing money or critical information.
- Conversation hijacking: Cybercriminals insert themselves into an existing conversation in an attempt to obtain sensitive information.
- Lateral phishing: Hackers take over recently hijacked company accounts to send phishing emails to employees, so it looks like they’re coming from a known source.
- Account takeover: Complex form of identity theft and fraud in which cybercriminals use phishing to gain account credentials. They may monitor business activities to launch other attacks afterwards.
Email security tips for businesses
Poor email practices often get companies into hot water with their security. To help combat this, we have five best practices to share.
#1: Verify before you click
Double check email addresses and links. If anything raises a red flag, pick up the phone and call the person who supposedly sent the email. It might seem like a pain, but it’s well worth it when thousands of dollars or more could be on the line.
#2: Use active protection systems
Always use active protection systems versus passive protection systems. For example, Microsoft 365 Defender replaces links in all emails so every time you click a link, it rescans the destination as opposed to only scanning it when it initially comes in. It also opens any attachments in a secure environment to check for suspicious activity once you launch the file.
#3: Take advantage of MFA
Setting up multifactor authentication (MFA) for your business email can reduce the risk of a bad actor taking over your account. It can often be set up as a text message or through an application on your phone. This ensures that a potential hacker needs more than just a password to get into your account.
#4: Set up alert monitoring
If something does get compromised, having alerts set up to monitor anomalous activity allows you to be alerted right away, minimizing the potential fallout from an attack or a breach. Alert monitoring helps catch any suspicious activity as quickly as possible.
#5: Backup all business data
If a hacker is able to gain access to your email or take over your account, backups are the only way to ensure your critical data is preserved. Backups can help save time and money should an email security attack occur.
How a managed service provider (MSP) can help
“Having an MSP gives you dedicated experts in all areas of IT, so you can focus on your business,” explains Schlechter. “You will have a dedicated resource that you can request to review suspicious emails and links.”
Schlechter says this can be especially helpful for small-to-medium sized businesses that may only have one to two IT professionals on staff.
“If you go with an MSP, you have the whole team to help you out,” he says. “You don’t have to rely on one person to understand it all and monitor it all.”
Bit-Wizards' Managed IT Services security features include advanced threat protection for email, alert monitoring, continuous monitoring, personnel training, regular backups, and much more.
“Not only do we have IT professionals, but we also have software engineers and other resources that we can call on to help us get to the root cause of any issue,” says Schlechter. “Security is a top priority at Bit-Wizards, so we hope to bring our clients peace of mind.”
Don’t let bad IT practices cost your business. Learn more and get in touch.