Email threats are constantly evolving. Online criminals are persistent and continuously developing their craft, with increasingly sophisticated methods and techniques being employed to deceive users and evade cyber security defences.
Businesses need to be aware of the tactics employed by malicious online criminals – and those who fail to adjust to the modern landscape of digital threats could be putting their assets at risk. The importance of email security cannot be underestimated in 2021, and businesses – as well as individuals – need to do everything they can to keep abreast of the latest cyber security developments.
What are the biggest email security threats to businesses?
It is estimated that around nine out of every ten cyber breaches are initiated by email – and it should come as no surprise that the work from home culture adopted in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has created innumerable opportunities for cybercriminals. With increasing numbers of people working remotely and collaboratively via tools like Office 365, businesses are at greater risk. Some of the most common online threats to businesses include the following:
1) Social engineering/spoofing
Social engineering is a term used to describe an online criminal gaining the trust of a user to steal money or data. Spoofing involves creating false data (such as a fake link or login form for what appears to be a legitimate service) in order to gain credentials that can be used to access sensitive data.
Spam is arguably the oldest criminal tactic as far as email is concerned. It involves bombarding an email address with several unwanted messages that compel you to open the email or click on a link using a catchy headline or “must-see” advertorial.
Phishing attacks involve the use of fraudulent messages to steal money and/or valuable data. Like spoofing, it can involve a request for a user’s login information which is then used to gain access to the user’s accounts on other sites/services.
Other popular attacks include ransomware (locking a computer until the user or business pays a ‘ransom’), DDoS (where several requests to load a site causes the server the site is hosted on to crash) and trojans (malicious software that blocks files or operating systems).
What role does user awareness have in adapting a business to cyber threats?
In today’s online threat landscape, employees need to be responsible for cyber security. This is because so many of today’s attacks rely on human behaviour for them to be successful. With just a single click of an email link, employees risk compromising the entire business.
User awareness training can help employees throughout all levels of an organisation to recognise, report and avoid email security threats. Users can be trained using mock phishing attacks and other simulations which are useful in both testing and reinforcing sensible practices when opening or actioning appropriate responses to suspicious emails.
How can a business adapt to modern security threats?
The best way for businesses to adapt is for them to understand continually evolving risks and emerging cyberattack trends. Being prepared for cyber-attacks begins with all employees understanding how vulnerabilities could potentially impact an organisation.
In addition to this, those responsible for IT infrastructure within a business should ensure that there is a security policy in place. This can involve the installation of a firewall, regularly updating anti-malware software, ensuring Office 365 software updates and patches are installed as soon as they become available, and securing workplace networks.
It is also important to ensure that any colleagues working from outside the office are logged in with a secure connection and that systems are monitored to detect any potential issues with up-to-date anti-virus software.
How can failing to adapt to cyber threats potentially damage a business?
Sophisticated, constantly evolving cyber-attack techniques can be detrimental to businesses of all sizes. Such attacks are designed to trick employees and allow access to sensitive data. This can put businesses at risk of financial fraud, data loss, data protection breaches, loss of customer confidence and exposure of private company information which could be of use to competitors.
Operational disruption due to a cyber-attack can also cause huge revenue losses, as it is often impossible for businesses to carry on as normal during such an attack, or in the immediate aftermath of one. Put simply, all businesses across all industries are at risk from cyber security threats in 2021, and the importance of ensuring a watertight online security policy is in place cannot be underestimated.