Considering the proliferation of online threats in the modern era, email security remains a top concern for businesses. According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, email is still one of the top two delivery methods for malicious payloads. The UK Government Cybersecurity Breaches Survey 2022 indicates that 83% of businesses and charities have been targeted by phishing scams, while another report shows that 81% of organizations around the world have experienced an increase in email phishing attacks since March 2020. Besides bulk phishing attacks, organizations experience all sorts of scams, to include spear phishing, Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks and email-based ransomware attacks.
Managing the increasing volume of emails is becoming increasingly difficult as the world becomes more digital. As time goes on, it appears that cybercriminals are focusing more and more of their attention on email. “Email security is the practice of protecting email accounts and communications from malicious threats,” highlights VIPRE and they couldn’t be more accurate on their definition. Despite this, email security isn’t always given the proper care it deserves. It’s unfortunate, because failing to account for potential threats to safety can have serious implications.
Email security should be a priority within the organization. It is no longer an option, but a necessity. To show your leadership and executives the added value of email security, here are five reasons – besides the compelling statistics – that demonstrate the importance of email security.
Criminals love your mailbox
Emails are particularly attractive to cybercriminals. E-mails are a preferred tool for cybercriminals because they can be used for a wide variety of attacks, from simple spamming to complex data-theft scams.
One reason for such is the popularity of email. The element of human nature must also be considered. In spite of the ease with which email can be utilized, most employees lack the education and experience necessary to spot phishing emails and other forms of malicious content. Cybercriminals are aware of this weakness and seek to exploit it at every opportunity.
Many times, malicious emails are sent disguised as routine, non-suspicious emails. These phishing emails are carefully designed by scammers and criminals to manipulate our emotions and tap into our unconscious biases, so humans are practically hardwired to fall for them. According to a study by the University of Florida, “43 percent of participants took the bait at least once and 11.9 percent clicked more than once.”
Many businesses, from startups to multinational corporations, fall prey to phishing and other email-based frauds because they either don’t train their employees enough or have insufficient email security measures in place. You can avoid being a statistic by enhancing your email security and training your staff.
Ransomware is the most common threat
The ENISA 2022 Threat Landscape report shows that ransomware continues to be one of the main threats while phishing emails are identified as the most common initial vector for such attacks. As criminals become more innovative and their techniques more advanced, built-in email security controls cannot prevent these increasingly complex attacks.
In fact, NCSC points out a case study where out of 1800 malevolent emails, 50 phishing scams having an infected attachment managed to escape the installed email security solution and reach the employees mailboxes. This is because, using cutting-edge methods to get into employee inboxes, fraudsters can reverse engineer the rules intended to prohibit them.
That’s when a dedicated email security solution comes in hand, because it employs advanced mechanisms and various layers of security. A complete email solution will protect your company against targeted and advanced attacks.
Email security is a business advantage
If you look at the data collected by businesses, you’ll notice that the vast bulk of it consists of private information. Not just inside your company, but also outside from clients and friends. Nobody wants sensitive information like this to get into the wrong hands.
Data protection laws including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) require businesses to implement specific security procedures, always keeping data security as a top priority during processing, storing, and sharing.
It may be an inconvenience for some businesses at first, but in the long run, they will reap the rewards. Meeting security requirements is a sign that an organization values the privacy of its customers’ data. In addition, doing so will inspire more trust in doing business with you, giving you an edge over the competition.
The cost of email security does not outweigh the cost of a data breach
If your company doesn’t invest in email security, you are probably not thinking about external elements that could have serious consequences for your business. Theft of private information is a potential outcome of insecure data processing, and identity fraud frequently follows.
But there’s more than that. There will also be monetary repercussions. One successful cyberattack can have far-reaching effects on your business. The IBM 2022 Cost of Data Breach report indicates that the average cost has climbed to $4.35 million. The amount of this cost is analyzed into:
- Detection and scalation, including forensic and investigative activities; assessment and audit services; crisis management; and communications to executives and boards
- Lost business costs such as business disruption and revenue losses from system downtime; cost of lost customers and acquiring new customers; and reputation losses and diminished goodwill
- Post breach response and notifications
The cost of a breach can be further exacerbated if you add the potential fines because of violating a security or privacy regulation. But one thing is certain: the costs of email security do not outweigh the costs of a data breach.
Improve productivity, safely
Around 90% of the emails that businesses get are considered spam. That is, they aren’t asked for and could have a malicious motive. A lack of an effective antispam solution can have a significant impact on an organization’s productivity because of the time wasted dealing with spam.
The correct email security measures free up staff time to focus on making improvements to the service provided to customers and partners. Plus, as was said before, data breaches frequently damage a company’s image and credibility. Regaining the faith of customers and business partners is tough and expensive, depending on the severity of the incident. Without a doubt, a reliable and trustworthy brand is crucial to the success of any organization.
Email is an organization’s most vulnerable channel because it is the lifeblood of the business. Businesses need to consider the best ways to safeguard their personnel from the dangers hiding in the inbox as fraudsters continue to take advantage of the open nature of email and improve their methods for breaking into organizations.
Anastasios Arampatzis is a retired Hellenic Air Force officer with over 20 years’ worth of experience in managing IT projects and evaluating cybersecurity. During his service in the Armed Forces, he was assigned to various key positions in national, NATO and EU headquarters and has been honoured by numerous high-ranking officers for his expertise and professionalism. He was nominated as a certified NATO evaluator for information security. Currently, he works as a cybersecurity content writer for Bora Design.
Anastasios is a guest blogger. All opinions are his own.