The Three Hardest Email Threats for Users to Detect

Over 90% of cyberattacks begin from an email. Given how often both individuals and businesses utilize emails, this percentage is a scary amount.

These attacks have cost organizations an average $13 million in damages and this number will continue to grow into the coming future. It is important for businesses and users alike to know how these attacks occur and better equip themselves to prevent a future attack. One employee could cost a company thousands with one wrong click. Phishing attacks and ransomware links embedded in company emails could cause havoc on, or even destroy,  a business. The result is legal fees, recovery costs, smudged reputations and decreased productivity, with 60% of smaller companies closing after six months of an attack. There are numerous ways to combat these attacks, but as defenses advance so do the threats. This article will discuss three of the most difficult email threats to detect, and offer tips for identifying and avoiding said attacks. 

The Three Most Difficult Email Threats to Detect

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

Business email compromise, or BEC for short, is an internal attack on a company. Similar to phishing, BEC attacks attempt to bait a company employee by appearing to be someone of importance within the business. This could be an email that seems to be an executive attempting to gain access or information on a system. These types of attacks are difficult to detect due to the nature of businesses and the high levels of efficiency they run at. If a co-worker is digging through hundreds of emails a day on top of their own work, they might not notice small inconsistencies in a fraudulent email. 

Email Account Compromise (EAC)

Email account compromise, or EAC for short, is a specific attack designed primarily to compromise an individual's inbox. This could be done via malware, phishing, or brute force attacks. The result is the attacker then using the account to spread more phishing attacks to the contacts of the stolen inbox, gathering more and more personal information. This attack becomes extremely difficult to detect as these messages are technically sent from a legitimate account, but it is not the rightful owner of said account. 

Fileless Malware 

Fileless malware attacks are email attacks stemming from a device's random access memory, or RAM. They are not from a malicious file like ransomware or common malware, but can still install and run fraudulent code on a system. They can be delivered via a phishing email, and pose a threat to personal and private information. Fileless malware attacks are difficult to detect because they do not leave a trace. There is no signature (identification of files), so signature-based antivirus software cannot detect the malicious content. 

Tips & Best Practices for Detecting & Blocking Email Threats

Close up of businessman hand holding tablet with abstract glowing keyhole padlock interface on blurry background. Protection, safety and technology concept. Double exposureThere is a positive to all of these negatives. Numerous tactics can be deployed to reduce the risk of becoming a victim to these different types of attacks. These attacks all have a common attribute, emails, and email security should be taken seriously. Outsourcing email protection to a third party creates a middle-man, making it harder and slower for malicious hackers to target a business. Having a cloud-based email security solution in place adds a critical layer of security to help protect sensitive information. Upper level management will also benefit from training employees on the common types of attacks they should be on the lookout for. This will not only keep them safer, but the company as a whole. 

Final Thoughts 

There are many different types of attacks in the modern world of cybersecurity. BEC attacks make their move by appearing to be from inside the company. EAC attacks wish to gain control of a user's inbox and weaponize it. Fileless attacks eat at the RAM and leave no trace. As a whole, these stealthy attacks loom in emails and with proper protection and training, these issues can be avoided before they cause serious harm.

Keep Learning

Now more than ever, businesses cannot afford a weak email security strategy. Implementing a comprehensive email security system can help prevent advanced threats, such as targeted spear phishing, and ransomware.

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