Email Security Fails Can Sink Companies

September 17, 2021

Just One Email Security Failure Can Land a Company in a World of Trouble

The volume and complexity of today’s email-based cybercrime threats requires companies to make savvy choices when they’re shopping for an email security solution. A variety of factors including budget, functionality and integrations can go into deciding which solution will check off all of the boxes on a company’s shopping list. Unfortunately, too many organizations aren’t spoiled by choice. Too often, businesses are faced with a situation that requires them to prioritize certain features and functions over others when they’re really all needed. That puts companies in an awkward position where instead of choosing an email security solution that meets all of their needs, they’re just choosing the least terrible option –  and that can lead to dangerous situations with far-reaching consequences for a company’s future.  

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Phishing is a really big deal, and a really complex problem for businesses to pin down as they consider their options for email security that will keep malicious messages away from employee inboxes.  

In an organization with 1–250 employees, one in 323 emails will be malicious.  

In an organization of 1001–1500 employees, one in 823 emails will be malicious. 

In the Data Breach Investigations Report 2021 recently published by Verizon and the Ponemon Institute, phishing easily continued its reign in first place as the top data breach threat that businesses face today for the third straight year, up 10% in this department over 2020’s record-breaking numbers. An estimated 74% of organizations were damaged last year by email security failures like successful phishing attacks that resulted in a data breach or other damaging cybersecurity incidents. Companies in the US have the highest risk for an email security mishap to result in phishing-related data breaches for 2021 so far, with rates 30% higher than the global average, and 14% higher than the same period in 2020.   

The enormous growth in email volume means that more phishing messages are headed for businesses than ever before. An estimated 306.4 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2020, triple the average increase of past years. That’s a massive increase in the number of opportunities for phishing attacks on businesses. This conclusion is supported by this year’s internet crime report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). IC3’s report found that phishing, including vishing, SMiShing and pharming, was the most prevalent threat in the US in 2020, with 241,342 victims. This was followed by service fraud (108,869 victims), extortion (76,741 victims), a personal data breach (45,330 victims) and identity theft (43,330 victims). 

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Automated Security Beats SEGs and Conventional Solutions Hollow

Under pressure from this tsunami of phishing, many businesses have discovered that the email security solutions that they rely on aren’t up to the test. Conventional or native enterprise email security, Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) and automated email security guardians are the most commonly used business email security solutions, and each one has a different capacity for dealing with the complex, sophisticated phishing threats that endanger businesses and the way that those threats are delivered. Shockingly, some companies don’t prioritize email security at all. A report in CISO Magazine uncovered the fact that one in three small businesses with 50 or fewer employees rely on the defensive capabilities of free or consumer-grade cybersecurity tools and for all of their cyber defense including email security. 

Email security challenges are coming hard and fast at organizations of every size in a fast-changing and volatile threat landscape. This leaves companies constantly contending with phishing-related risk complications that threaten their IT environments. Crushing ransomware attacks, devious new BEC scams, the specter of zero-day threats and nation-state cybercrime risk are all growing. The most expensive threat that businesses face – more than 60x Business email compromise rose by 14% overall in 2020 and up to 80% in some sectors. Of course, every IT professional’s favorite villain, ransomware, is a constantly escalating risk. Ransomware attacks are already up by more than 100% in 2021 over record numbers in 2020. 

Every company’s defense against these cybersecurity nightmares hinges on its ability to efficiently, effectively spot and stop phishing messages. But conventional solutions and SEGs are at a disadvantage in that fight.  Email security solutions like those typically rely on occasional system updates or manual input from IT staffers to obtain threat intelligence, and that often leaves them behind the curve in the modern cybersecurity world. Solutions that need human help to find and deal with threats may not be able keep up with the pace of danger – a big liability when every second counts.  

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Why Are Conventional Email Security Solutions and SEGs a Path to Phishing Fails?

We analyzed the performance of other types of email security solutions as well as automated email security in our report on The State of Email Security 2021 and a comparison of the data uncovers several pertinent facts to keep in mind. 

  • A phishing URL has a lifespan of about 24 hours.  
  • 90% of undetected phishing attacks are discovered in an environment that uses an SEG 
  • Only 17% of email solutions and SEGs were able to detect previously unknown malware 
  • Companies investing in automation have a four-fold advantage in stopping a targeted cyberattack.
  • 34% of standard security tools could spot unknown credential phishing links 
  • 80% of phishing sites linked in suspicious messages 2020 used SSL to bypass threat lists
  • Security automation can save more than 80% of the cost of manual security.
  • Automated email security detects up to 40% more phishing attacks than conventional security or a SEG 

Phishing Threat Sophistication Creates Huge Email Security Complications

These solutions may also be unable to process the sophisticated spear phishing attacks that are often the precursor to other damaging cybercrimes. Cybercriminals use a wide variety of tricks to fool conventional security and SEGs. Many of those elements make it harder for traditional security to ferret out well-disguised threats. That’s not a chance that any business can take. When looking at the accuracy of the designations of unexpected messages that were handled by conventional email security last year in our analysis of the phishing landscape, The State of Email Security 2021, it’s easy to see that there’s plenty of room for improvement. 

  • 20% were correctly marked as phishing 
  • 49% were correctly marked as spam 
  • 5% were whitelisted by admin configurations 
  • 25% were marked clean in error and successfully reached their targets 

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Don’t Take Chances with Outdated Email Security 

Graphus reliably defends your business from cybersecurity risks like phishing 24/7/365. This powerful automated guardian is easy to set up and gathers its own threat intelligence, eliminating the need for human staffers to add threat reports or tinker with settings. Powered by an AI that never stops learning, Graphus learns your communication patterns to tailor your protection perfectly, defending your business from trouble by putting three strong shields between you and the bad guys. 

  • TrustGraph uses more than 50 separate data points to analyze incoming messages completely before allowing them to pass into employee inboxes. TrustGraph also learns from each analysis it completes, adding that information to its knowledge base to continually refine your protection and keep learning without human intervention. 
  • EmployeeShield adds a bright, noticeable box to messages that could be dangerous, notifying staffers of unexpected communications that may be undesirable and empowering staffers to report that message with one click for administrator inspection. 
  • Phish911 enables employees to instantly report any suspicious message that they receive. When an employee reports a problem, the email in question isn’t just removed from that employee’s inbox — it is removed from everyone’s inbox and automatically quarantined for administrator review. 

Don’t keep throwing bad money after good to prop up old-fashioned technology that relies on humans to get the job done when you can enjoy all of the advantages of security automation at an affordable price. Let us show you how a smart, AI-powered email security guardian can protect your business with a personalized demo of Graphus. BOOK YOUR DEMO>> 

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