13 Email Security Threats Your Organization Must Defend Against
Spam is a type of unsolicited email that is sent in bulk to a large number of recipients costing businesses €20 billion per year. Spam emails often contain advertisements, scams, phishing attempts, or malware that can pose a significant security risk to the recipient’s computer system.
They can also be used to spread viruses, spyware, and other types of malware that can infect the recipient’s computer and steal personal information. Spam emails can also contain links to fraudulent websites that look like legitimate ones, but are actually designed to steal personal or financial information.
In addition to the security risks associated with spam emails, they can also overload email servers and slow down email communication. This can result in lost productivity and reduced efficiency, as users may spend more time sorting through and deleting spam emails.
Malware is a form of software designed to harm, disrupt, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems or networks. Malware may be transmitted via a variety of channels, including email attachments and URLs.
Malware-infected emails can be disguised as genuine messages from reputable sources such as banks, corporations, or government authorities. These emails may contain attachments or links that, when opened, install malware on the machine of the recipient. Spyware may even be concealed in email attachments like Word or PDF documents.
After a computer system has been infected with malware, it may be used to steal personal information, monitor user activities, or cause harm to the computer system or network. Malware can also be used to turn the infected computer into a part of a botnet, which can be used to launch further attacks on other computer systems.
The unlawful movement of sensitive or secret data from a computer system or network to an external place is known as data exfiltration. Email is a prevalent method of data exfiltration because attackers may use it to convey sensitive information outside of the company without being detected.
Email attachments, URLs to cloud storage systems, or just copying and pasting sensitive material into the body of an email can all be used to exfiltrate data. Attackers may also employ phishing or social engineering tactics to fool users into revealing sensitive information.
URL phishing is a sort of email attack in which an attacker sends an email with a malicious link disguised as a legal one. It is also known as link phishing or spear phishing. The link usually takes the victim to a fake website meant to collect personal information or login credentials.
URL phishing attempts may be quite convincing, since attackers frequently employ social engineering techniques to deceive victims into clicking on the link. For example, the attacker may mimic a trustworthy source, such as a bank or a coworker, and instill anxiety or urgency in the user, causing them to click on the link without thinking.
Scamming is a sort of email attack in which an attacker sends an email with false information or promises in attempt to fool the victim and get personal information such as bank account details, credit card numbers, or login passwords. Scam emails frequently attempt to instill a sense of urgency or anxiety in their victims, causing them to act without hesitation.
Lottery scams, inheritance scams, job offer scams, and phishing scams are all common sorts of frauds. The attacker in a phishing scam may imitate a reputable firm, such as a bank or an online store, and urge the victim to click on a link and input their login credentials or other personal information. This information is then utilized to steal the victim’s identity or to commit fraud.
Spear phishing is a highly focused and personalized type of phishing attack that is intended to dupe a specific individual or organization into disclosing sensitive information such as login passwords or financial information. Unlike traditional phishing attempts, which are often sent to a wide number of recipients in the hopes of trapping a few victims, spear phishing assaults are meticulously engineered to seem like legitimate messages to the intended recipient.
Spear phishing attacks are frequently more successful than traditional phishing assaults because they are targeted to the exact receiver, making them more convincing and difficult to detect. Attackers may use social media or other sources to obtain personal information about the target in order to craft a more convincing email.
For example, an attacker may send a spear phishing email that looks to be from the victim’s employer, requesting that cash be sent to a certain account as soon as possible. To appear more convincing, the email may be intended to look like a real communication from the employer, using their name and email address, and may include particular facts about the victim’s position or work circumstances.
Domain impersonation is a sort of email attack in which an attacker impersonates a real firm or organization by using a forged or faked email address. The attacker may construct a domain name that is similar to the real domain name or utilize a hacked legitimate domain name.
The purpose of domain impersonation attacks is to fool the receiver into thinking the email is real and from a reputable source, such as a bank, government agency, or well-known corporation. The attacker may employ social engineering techniques to instill a sense of urgency or dread in the recipient, forcing them to act without hesitation.
An attacker, for example, may send an email that looks to be from a bank, instructing the receiver to click on a link and input their login credentials to prevent their account from being locked. The link might lead to a bogus website meant to steal the victim’s login information.
Brand impersonation is a sort of email attack in which an attacker impersonates a well-known brand or corporation by using a phony or forged email address. To make the email look more credible, the attacker may utilize the brand’s name, logo, or other identifiable information.
The purpose of brand impersonation attacks is to fool the receiver into thinking the email is real and from a well-known brand or corporation. The attacker may employ social engineering techniques to instill a sense of urgency or dread in the recipient, forcing them to act without hesitation.
Both domain impersonation and brand impersonation are types of email attacks that rely on social engineering tactics to deceive the recipient. However, the key difference is the identity that the attacker is trying to impersonate, and the specific goal of the attack.
Extortion is a sort of email attack in which the attacker threatens or blackmails the receiver in order to get money or other incentives. In an email extortion attempt, the attacker may threaten to reveal sensitive or embarrassing information about the receiver, or to take a detrimental action if their demands are not satisfied.
An attacker, for example, may send an email to a person or organization claiming to have access to sensitive data or information and threatening to reveal it to the public unless a ransom is paid. Scare tactics, such as threatening the recipient’s reputation, wealth, or personal safety, may be used by the attacker to generate a sense of urgency or panic.
Business Email Compromise
Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a sort of email attack that targets businesses and organizations in order to steal money or sensitive information. BEC attacks often entail impersonating a trusted employee, supplier, or business partner in order to dupe the receiver into doing a specified action, such as transferring payments or granting access to sensitive data.
BEC attacks are frequently complex and well-planned, with significant research into the targeted firm and its staff. To fool the receiver, the attacker may utilize social engineering techniques such as generating a feeling of urgency or playing on the recipient’s trust.
Conversion hijacking is a sort of email attack in which the attacker attempts to intercept and redirect the recipient’s online behavior in order to steal sensitive information or commit fraud. This sort of attack is frequently carried out by altering links in emails or diverting visitors to legitimate-looking phony websites.
In a conversion hijacking attempt, the attacker may send an email that looks to be from a reputable source, such as a bank or online store, and include a link to a bogus website made to look like the genuine thing. When the receiver clicks on the link, they are sent to a bogus website where they may be asked to submit sensitive information like as login credentials, credit card details, or other personal information.
Conversely, the attacker may employ malware or other techniques to divert the recipient’s online activity to a bogus website or to intercept and change real website traffic in order to steal sensitive information or conduct fraudulent transactions.
Lateral phishing is a sort of email attack in which an attacker obtains access to a valid email account and uses it to send phishing emails to other people in the same business or network. This form of assault is particularly powerful since it takes advantage of colleague trust and is more likely to succeed than an external phishing attempt.
The attacker in a lateral phishing assault may utilize a number of strategies to get access to a genuine email account, such as guessing weak passwords or deploying malware to steal login information. After they get access to the account, they may send phishing emails to other employees, using the real account to make the communications look more trustworthy.
In a lateral phishing assault, phishing emails may contain links to bogus websites or ask the recipient to provide sensitive information such as login credentials or financial information. The attacker’s purpose is to mislead the receiver into supplying this information, which he or she may then use to carry out more assaults or steal sensitive data.
Account takeover is a form of email security risk in which an attacker acquires unauthorized access to a user’s email account, generally through phishing or other means. After the attacker has gained access to the account, he or she can use it to engage in a range of nefarious acts, such as sending spam, spreading malware, stealing sensitive information, or launching more assaults.
The attacker may employ a variety of strategies to steal the user’s login credentials in an account takeover attempt, such as sending phishing emails that look to be from a reputable source and ask the user to submit their login information. The attacker may also employ brute force tactics to guess weak passwords or malware to obtain login credentials.
After gaining access to the user’s email account, the attacker can use it to send phishing emails to other persons inside the firm, steal sensitive data such as financial information or intellectual property, or use the account to launch additional assaults on other systems or networks.