2020: A New Decade of Digital Threats - Is Your Business Email Secure?

A new decade is on the horizon, and 2020 will undoubtedly consist of many advances in technology and security. However, unfortunately many of the digital threats and security shortcomings that have plagued this decade will persist or worsen - new threats targeting businesses of all sizes are anticipated.

The current security posture of many organizations - especially SMBs - is shamefully subpar. According to Ponemon Institute, only 40% of SMBs report that the technologies currently used by their organization can detect and block most cyber attacks and only 14% rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and attacks as highly effective. Email is an extremely popular method of communication that is essential to business success, so it comes as no surprise that it is also threat actors’ preferred attack vector. According to Verizon, over 90% of cyber attacks are initiated via email.

Sadly, many organizations either fail to recognize the importance of effective email security or think that their email accounts are adequately secured when in fact they are not. It is only after they are hit with an attack and forced to deal with the unpleasant and often devastating consequences such as hefty losses, decreased productivity and ruined reputations that this becomes apparent.

This article will examine a few of the most significant trends expected to impact the digital threat landscape in 2020, as well as provide some insight into how organizations can most effectively mitigate their risk of suffering a damaging and costly attack.

Top 4 Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Predictions for 2020:

Phishing attacks and credential theft will skyrocket. 

Threat actors are shifting their focus away from time-consuming APT attacks and costly zero-day exploits and honing in on phishing and credential theft. While seemingly primitive, these attack variations are actually highly efficient and effective, especially given many organizations’ inadequate defenses. 

Phishing is currently the most commonly used attack vector on organizations, leading to 53% of all cyber security breaches and frequently resulting in credential theft and account takeovers. Credential phishing is especially problematic in Microsoft 365 due to the platform’s growing popularity and the insufficiency of its built-in security features. Microsoft 365 has over 180 million monthly users - adding more than 50 thousand per month - so it’s no surprise that its email system is becoming an increasingly popular target for cyber thieves. According to Osterman Research, despite existing Microsoft 365 protection, 40% of Microsoft 365 customers have experienced credential theft.

Third-party data breach will constitute a larger part of the digital threat landscape than ever before.

According to IBM, the average time it took an organization to identify a data breach in 2019 was an alarming 206 days. In even worse cases, breaches go undetected by victims due to the sophistication of modern attacks and many organizations’ lack of cybersecurity skills. Threat actors recognize the effectivity of these attacks and will continue to take advantage of businesses’ shortcomings to compromise data and intellectual property which can be monetized for personal gain. When it comes to data breach, no organization is too small to be a target. In fact, according to Verizon 43% of 2019 data breach involved small business victims. 

The spread of compliance fatigue will carry serious repercussions for businesses. 

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which was finalized on January 1, 2019, has been a topic of ongoing controversy and debate. The objective of this legislation is to protect citizens’ personal data and prevent the misuse or unconsented usage of personal information, and the law imposes hefty fines of up to $7,500 per intentional violation and $2,500 per unintentional violation.

If other US states follow California’s lead and introduce their own state privacy laws, things could potentially become pretty confusing. Organizations could be forced to comply with overlapping and sometimes incompatibly contradictive regulations on US territory to avoid harsh financial and legal repercussions. As a result, 2020 may end up being the beginning of a steady decrease in cybersecurity compliance. A combination of the slow and complex judicial system, tight budgets and insufficient cybersecurity skills may cause  professionals to disregard privacy and data security regulations.

Ransomware will dominate the media, with mobile ransomware and RaaS becoming increasingly problematic for organizations. 

The growing potential for threat actors to profit off ransomware attacks is driving rapid innovation in ransomware variants and the tactics they employ. Criminals are often able to easily modify small-scale attacks so they can be used against large corporations, demanding larger ransom payments. It only takes a few successful large-scale attacks to produce substantial revenue, which serves as a major incentive for ransomware authors and operators. 

However, enterprises and large companies are not the only organizations that need to worry about ransomware. Although 54% of SMBs believe that their companies are “too small” to be ransomware targets, in reality no company is “too small” or “too large” to be safe from this serious threat. In fact, according to the US National Cyber Security Alliance, SMBs are the most popular targets for ransomware attacks and 60 percent shut down within six months of an attack.

Certain types of ransomware are expected to be especially problematic in 2020. Mobile ransomware is on the rise, and the number of new mobile variants increased by 54% this past year. This can be attributed to the fact that mobile phones often lack adequate security defenses and contain valuable information. Security experts predict a steady increase in both the number of mobile ransomware attacks and the magnitude of these attacks. Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) schemes on the dark web, which enable individuals and groups to have a disproportionately large impact relative to their knowledge and skills, are also expected to become increasingly prevalent in the coming years.  

How to Secure Business Email Against the most Advanced Threats

Combating today’s advanced email threats requires a comprehensive, defense-in-depth approach to business email security. Antivirus software or spam filters alone are insufficient in protecting against sophisticated attacks such as polymorphic malware, new viruses and zero-day exploits. In fact, according to Ponemon Institute 80% of SMBs report that malware has evaded their antivirus software.

In order to effectively protect against the sophisticated attacks that constitute the modern digital threat landscape, it is imperative that organizations implement an intuitive, adaptive business cloud email security solution that provides complete end-to-end control of their email infrastructure, preventing malicious emails from reaching the inbox.

While employee education and security awareness training are also important in preventing attacks, user behavior is ultimately unpredictable. Thus, it is critical that businesses invest in technology that creates a safeguarded environment around users, mitigating the risk associated with human error. Luckily, email security has evolved immensely over the past 20 years and solutions that provide this complete, multi-tiered protection necessary in effectively securing business email accounts now exist.

Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security: Real-Time Protection Against Today’s Most Dangerous Threats 

Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security provides comprehensive, proactive protection against the most advanced, difficult-to-detect email attacks. Benefits of securing your business email with EnGarde include: 

  • Multi-layered threat protection that not only protects business email from threats but also anticipates them
  • Multiple leading antivirus engines and spam filtration frameworks
  • Adaptive-learning heuristic system, which continues to improve over time
  • Secure endpoint encryption using strong cryptography
  • Real-time URL filter
  • URL analysis
  • Robust auditing and reporting
  • Next-generation statistical analysis
  • Dynamic reputation system classifies emails based on origin
  • Centrally managed cloud-based administration and flexible policy management
  • Tighter security, adaptive implementation and eliminated risk of vendor lock-in through the use of a transparent, collaborative development approach
  • Passionate, knowledgeable 24/7/365 customer support and around-the-clock system monitoring

Don’t start the new year off with your business email accounts inadequately secured, leaving an “open door” into your business for threat actors to exploit with their ever-evolving attacks. Contact us today - we would love to continue the discussion on the importance of effective email security and how our protection could benefit your business.

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