March 11, 2022, will officially mark the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. While things are starting to look a little brighter many businesses have now adopted a permanent work from home policy. This means, well… more emails, and with more emails come more email security threats.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Although he wasn’t talking about email security, preparing yourself for email security threats and cyber-attacks is crucial, especially now with the increase of individuals working remotely.
That said, having a thorough understanding of the most common email security threats and how to avoid them is essential for protecting yourself or your business. Below are the top five email security threats to watch out for in 2022.
Spam emails otherwise known as junk mail is one of the most common email security threats to watch out for. In short, spam is unsolicited emails, instant messages, or social media messages. The good thing about spam emails is that they’re pretty easy to spot and aren’t typically disguised well. However, if you click or respond to one it could be damaging to your email application.
2. Phishing & Spear Phishing.
Phishing is another email security threat that involves the practice of sending fraudulent emails claiming to be from legitimate sources to lure individuals in and steal private data, such as passwords or bank account information. Spear Phishing is a bit more advanced in that the cyber thief will directly target a specific individual, do extensive research on that particular person, and then fool them into revealing private information. One way to identify a Phishing attempt is to look at the “Sent” email address and see if the domain portion of the email matches the domain name of the sending company. For example, an email from American Express will come from an email the domain “ameicanexpress.com” or from the IR will come from “IRS.gov”. If the sender’s email domain is something different, a good chance it is a Phishing email trying to steal your information!
3. Business Email Comprimise (BEC).
Several factors will come into play when tackling the potential risks that arise with the use of AI. For one, accuracy is key! Even though it may be nearly impossible to ensure the accuracy of all data included in these systems, we must try and develop a strict protocol and have dedicated jobs to track the precision of data being used. Companies must also attempt to identify all glitches and inconsistencies before an AI system is launched into the public, for if one anomaly goes unnoticed severe consequences may follow. It is essential that all organizations working with AI intelligence apply procedures that allow the systems to acknowledge malicious activity being attempted and then deploy safeguards that will internally shut the system down to protect itself against a breach.
- CEO Fraud: This is when a hacker imitates the CEO of a company, emails the finance department asking for funds, and then transfers it into a fraudulent account.
- Account Compromise: Here the attacker will breach an employee’s email account and then attempt access to sensitive data from within the organization.
- False Invoice Scheme: This usually happens with companies that do business overseas involving suppliers or vendors. The attacker will imitate one of the vendors asking for funds to be transferred into a fraudulent account.
- Attorney Impersonation: Lower-ranking employees will typically fall victim to this type of BEC which occurs when an attacker impersonates a legal representative of a company.
- Data Theft: Lastly, data theft usually starts with the attacker targeting the HR department of a company looking to obtain private information from employees or the CEO.
Malware is a broad term that relates to any type of malicious software aimed to damage or manipulate a computer’s service or network. Malware includes Ransomware, Trojans, Worms, Spyware, Bots, Viruses, and Adware. Different types of malware do different things, but they all cause internal damage to an individual’s computer. A Trojan is one of the most hazardous types of malware because it allows the creator to gain full access to a device’s system.
5. Using An Unencrypted Email Service to Store Private Information.
Cybercriminals now more than ever can easily sneak their way into an email message that is being sent, received, or stored using an unsecured email application. Sending unencrypted emails across an unsecured network is just like delivering opened mail, every email you send is just as opened as your letters.
Email security threats are becoming more advanced and harder to identify as technology continues to progress. However, there are strategies companies and individuals can adopt to prepare for email security threats and steer clear of them entirely.
First and foremost, implement internal safety measures and resources that will provide some type of email security user awareness training: how to create a backup of a device, how to identify email security threats, and what to do when a device becomes infected. Tools simply won’t be enough when it comes to external email threats, if they fail you or your employees will be the only thing standing in the way between a cyberthief and your business.
You can also hire an email security service such as NeoCertified. We offer cloud-based email security solutions as well as secure Add-Ins and Extensions that integrate with the most popular email applications available like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail.
Use strong passwords and change them every 6 months. Using personal information for your passwords such as birthdays or addresses is a great way for attackers to intercept your online accounts and wreak havoc on them. When creating a password try to include at least eight characters, with symbols, numbers, upper case, and lower case letters.
Email security threats will always be of concern but if you take the proper steps to keep hackers at bay and your email accounts safe there will be nothing to worry about.