Is Your Inbox Riddled With Scams? It’s Time to Amp Up Yout Email Security
Strong email security protects and guards businesses against scams, phishing attempts, and accidentally installed malware on devices. Where to start?
In 2022, as we speak, we’ve globally received over 333.2 billion emails.
Many of them are correspondences with employees, family, and clients.
Then there are marketing emails such as newsletters, surveys, and promotional emails.
However, 1 in 99 emails is carefully crafted to hide something more sinister. Cybercriminals impersonate authorities and prompt the reader to take urgent action — be it to transfer money or click on a malware-infected link.
Once the virus is installed on your device, it can grant criminals access to various accounts or even enable monitoring of the network.
Messages that don’t follow a typical phishing scheme can bypass email filters and arrive straight into your inbox.
How to improve email security, recognize the signs of malicious spam, and what can we learn from recent real-life email phishing cases?
It’s easy if you know how.
Overview of Recent Email Scams
In October 2022, a scam email has been promising that the recipient would be included in the publication of notable people known as “Who’s Who in America”. It was presented as an image (a common cue of a phishing email) that, if clicked, would lead to malware.
Another type of spoofed email that appeared this month is known as the Google Translate Scam. The email provided a link to a fake Google Translate site that urged the user to type in their credentials — which would then be stolen if the individual went through with the instructions.
Police in Cyprus has issued a warning of a scam that impersonates official emails sent by them. The email convinces recipients that they have committed criminal offenses and displays the official logo of the police.
The goal is to confirm that the email is active and can be used for further criminal activity — which is why the police warn not to respond to such emails.
What can we learn from the recent email phishing cases? For starters:
- Anyone can be a target of a phishing scam
- Criminals rely on trusted services such as Google Translate or trusted government bodies such as the police
- Email phishing comes in many forms
- There is always a sense of urgency involved — criminals want their victims to take action now
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Common Targets of Email Scams
According to Statista, the industries that have been targeted with phishing in most cases in 2022 include financial, Saas, e-commerce, and crypto.
For these industries, criminals can easily find email addresses on company websites or LinkedIn.
What’s more, they can directly target employees by learning as much as they can about them online and crafting an email that targets them specifically.
Another thing that is evident, considering the types of industries that are the most commonly under attack, is that they are usually financially motivated.
For instance, many phishing emails are going to present themselves as an opportunity to gain some kind of financial gain or evoke fear that the victim’s finances are in danger.
Therefore, watching out for this kind of request and knowing that a bank would never ask for your personal information can prevent many cases of email fraud.
Top Email Security Practices
To improve the security of your email:
- Use strong passwords
- Include email filters that can recognize more advanced phishing attempts
- Employ Data Loss Prevention solutions
- Insist on multifactor authentication
- Introduce basic employee training
To make the credentials more difficult to breach, use unique passwords for every account and replace them often. The same should be practiced by every member of the team for both their work and personal accounts.
Although emails are equipped with filters that can recognize spam sent to many people by identifying common signs of a scam, such as an image in the body of a message or a particular greeting.
Data Loss Prevention Solutions can identify attempts at stealing information within the system, flag it, and stop it right away.
Multi-factor authentication adds one more step that can contribute to the prevention of stolen credentials.
Employee training about the basics of cybersecurity focused on various types of phishing is crucial in the prevention of social engineering attacks that exploit human mistakes and biases.
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Social Engineering Via Email
It’s a common consensus that incidents in cybersecurity, such as data breaches and unauthorized access to accounts, are the result of human errors.
Therefore, a major part of email security has to be about employee training. Employees are most likely to click on a link that leads to a malware-infected website and send their credentials to a person that is impersonating managers within the company.
Training that builds awareness of social engineering attacks can prevent many of these mistakes.
What makes email security a challenge is that scam emails are becoming more complex. Criminals still send automated emails that basic email filters can recognize as a scam. But carefully crafted emails, specifically targeting one individual, in particular, are increasingly common.
Threat actors can find out a lot about their victims via their social media. More advanced phishing schemes will be difficult to spot.
When they impersonate an authoritative figure such as one’s boss, employees often don’t think twice before sending sensitive information via email.
Are You Likely to Be the Target of a Phishing Email?
With the high number of attacks and email being the first choice for cybercriminals, it’s likely that you’ll receive spam emails that contain infected links or requests.
Anyone can be the target of email phishing, and communication via this platform is not going anywhere anytime soon, either.
We rely on emails for work and even connecting with families and friends. The best individuals and companies can do is prepare themselves for the possibility of an email scam.
On the individual level, it’s best to learn as much as possible about common signs of phishing and read about real-life cases that depict the latest tactics criminals have used to target their victims.
Robust email security is necessary to avoid email scams too. This includes multifactor authentication, additional email filtering for phishing, scanning to identify malicious attachments, employing data loss prevention solutions, and more.