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Common Threats That Originate From The Inbox

There is no denying the popularity of instant messaging and social media, but the most popular medium for formal communication is still email. This makes business emails a common cybersecurity threat.

Making the whole email infrastructure safe is of paramount importance especially for businesses as work emails contain a lot of sensitive information including trade secrets, financial and operational, and even legal documents.

Even though corporations are vigilant about cybersecurity, email threats are the most nefarious because they constantly evolve and target the weakest link in the chain – humans. 

Some of the common threats that originate from the inbox are – 

1. Malware

Malware is one of the most common and successful threats delivered via emails. This approach works exceptionally because it targets the employees and not the email system. The employee receives an email pretending to be from a legitimate business, partner, customer, or supplier. The email then prompts the employee to download and install a malicious file. The employee is oblivious to it as there is no immediate sign that anything has gone wrong. The hackers silently take over the victim’s system and over the next few weeks or months, spread to the entire IT infrastructure rending it all vulnerable. Unfortunately, these types of attacks are usually discovered when a huge chunk of the system is infected and after data is leaked. 

2. Phishing

Phishing emails are very similar to spam emails but are more personalized to the victim they are targeting. The attackers obtain contact and personal information of the victims from a previously leaked data breach. They then send the victims a personalized email prompting them to click on a link that asks them to input their bank account credentials. A similar email attack can be carried out to require employees to give out their company credentials.

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3. BEC

Business Email Compromise or BEC is a highly specialized attack that targets high-ranking employees at the organization. It is also nicknamed ‘CEO Fraud’. The attacker studies the victim based on their social media presence and behavior. They make a profile based on the recent deals done through the organization and then contact the victim pretending to be this familiar company. The email would contain the account details of a new finance manager prompting the high-level employee to transfer funds to the attackers. The BEC is also used to extract trade secrets.

4. Bots and DDoS Attacks

Attackers use botnets to send a massive number of emails to the victim’s email server. This overwhelms the server and causes it to crash. DDoS attacks on web servers are common on B2C businesses because they rely on their website to generate sales while attacks on email servers are more consistent with B2B businesses as they rely on email communication to generate sales. 

How To Prevent Email-Based Threats?

To mitigate email threats and keep your system safe, you should secure both the client and the server. Email security tools help monitor emails for malware and potential scams. It is crucial to keep your servers up to date. Last but not the least, employee awareness about email threats goes a long way. 

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