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Top Cyber Attacks that Businesses Face: Malicious Emails

Emails are one of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to attack businesses. Now that the internet is accessible almost anywhere, the number of emails sent and received has continued to increase. In 2021, there were roughly 319.6 billion emails sent and received per day. This number is projected to increase to 376.4 billion in 2023

At vTECH io, we found that 38% of cyberattacks on businesses happen through malicious emails. With that many emails sent per day worldwide, it’s no wonder cybercriminals use malicious emails to attack businesses. One wrong click on a bad email, hyperlink, or attachment can open the door to hackers. 

Business owners need to be aware of the dangers malicious emails can bring. Employees are an easy target for hackers to breach the network and steal data. Fortunately, there are several simple precautions businesses can take to prevent a cyberattack.  

Phishing 

The first step in protecting your business is to become educated on the tactics a cybercriminal will take. Some of the biggest concerns with malicious emails are phishing and ransomware. 

Phishing is when an actor sends an email that looks trustworthy and convinces the end user to click on a link or attachment. They often attempt to get financial information, credentials, and other sensitive data. Phishing can also be used to trick the user into installing malware on their device. 

A phishing attack can be targeted at a specific group of people. Whaling, for example, is a type of phishing targeted at senior executives. The email often comes from a trusted source and elicits a sense of urgency. Essentially, the user must act quickly or something bad may happen. 

 

For example, a malicious email could look like it’s from a vendor asking for the user to update their account information or their account will be suspended. Or, the email could look like it’s from a user’s boss asking for system credentials. 

A recent study done by Tessian, a cybersecurity platform, showed that bigger businesses are more likely to receive emails from actors pretending to be employees or company suppliers. They also found that smaller businesses are more likely to receive emails from actors pretending to be board members or investors. Many actors will create similar logos to real companies and create fake email addresses that look legitimate. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an article on phishing for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Here are some examples they list of what a malicious email might contain:

 

  • “We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below, and confirm your identity.” 

 

  • “During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn’t verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information.”

 

  • “Our records indicate that your account was overcharged. You must call us within 7 days to receive your refund.”

Cyber actors are creative and advanced and adapt their techniques to use modern technology to their advantage. Staying up to date on ways cybercriminals can attack the enterprise is important for protection. 

Ransomware 

Once the end-user clicks on the malicious email and lets an actor in, there can be many different outcomes. Cybercriminals can use financial credentials to access users’ bank accounts and commit fraud. 

 

On a bigger scale, an actor can upload malware onto a device and gain access to the enterprise network. They are then able to wreak havoc on the system and steal sensitive data. Once they have this data on hand, they can hold it for ransom. 

Ransomware is a costly threat to businesses for several reasons. One, businesses are often asked to pay a huge sum of money for their data. Two, they waste large amounts of time and resources trying to figure out the best plan of action. Finally, that sensitive data in the hands of the attacker may belong to customers, breaching confidentiality. 

According to a study done by Statista in 2020, malicious emails are the most common delivery method for ransomware. The study showed that 54% of the people surveyed said they received ransomware through spam or phishing emails. One malicious email can have the power to take down an entire enterprise network and cost the business greatly. 

How to Protect Our Businesses

Protecting businesses from a cybersecurity attack is a high priority. However, it can seem nearly impossible when malicious emails can easily cause damage. Fortunately, there are a few simple tactics to implement to protect businesses. 

 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends several actions to take to prevent an attack from a malicious email. Before clicking on an email attachment look up the company and make sure the email is from the real company and not an imposter. Show someone else the email to get a second opinion. Additionally, call the vendor directly to confirm the email is from them. 

To protect your business further, the FTC suggests backing up data frequently outside of the network. This ensures the data is safe and accessible if a hacker infiltrates the network. Install updates, patches, and email authentication and protection software on desktops and mobile devices. Lastly, keep employees up to date and educated on phishing schemes and red flags to be aware of. 

CISA also has a few recommendations for protecting the enterprise against an attack. They suggest not responding or clicking on any emails that may seem suspicious. Be aware and skeptical of emails that ask you to act immediately. CISA also recommends keeping all personal information private and secure, avoiding clicking on suspicious hyperlinks, enabling multi-factor authentication on your email, and using long and challenging passwords on emails. Lastly, install anti-virus software, firewalls, email filters, and anti-spyware on internet-facing devices. 

Be Proactive 

It is never too early to set up protection for your business infrastructure. At vTECH io, we make it easy to be proactive. Partner with us to find the best solution for your enterprise. We have world-class cybersecurity solutions for email protection. Our expert team is on-call and ready to implement streamlined security solutions and provide the training your team needs to stay safe. 

One security solution we offer is vCyberguard. We will help you find vulnerabilities in your internal and external networks and create a customizable solution to fit your network’s needs. You can download the vCyberguard brochure herePartnering with us is simple. All you have to do is click here, fill out the form, and we will take it from there.