Despite the various methods to filter out unwanted email, spam still presents a number of challenges to organizations. While ordinary spam is simply considered a nuisance, the true danger lies in the spoofed emails or the malware that it delivers.

The effect of spam on your business

Like phishing emails, spam can also be designed to appear like they’re sent by legitimate sources like banks or online merchants. This increases the chance for unwitting users to download suspicious files. According to a report, the average user gets 16 malicious spam emails every month — that’s 192 spam emails a year for each of your employees. For a small- to medium-sized business (SMB), that means receiving thousands of spam yearly, each with varying potential for destruction.

Spam is costing businesses around the world billions of dollars in hampered productivity, security breaches, and other issues. Additionally, notable incidents involving Cerber, Petya, and Locky ransomware demonstrate how malicious spam can evolve depending on the size and scope of the attack. This means that businesses must be extra vigilant against spam.

How do spam and spoofing work?

Spam and phishing email typically use spoofing to mislead the recipient about the origin of a message. In a spoofed email, a cybercriminal masquerades as a legitimate email sender — a person or organization that is familiar to the victim.

Spoofed emails are often used in two ways. The first involves a spoofed organization name that cybercriminals use to send malicious emails to targets. This kind of attack can cause great reputational damage, especially if the victims are customers. The second and perhaps more significant threat is when cybercriminals send spoofed emails to company employees, since the latter can let malware into corporate networks.

Ways spam can disrupt your business

Malware

Based on one report, 92.4% of spam email messages contain malware attachments. In 2017, the infamous WannaCry ransomware in inboxes via spam. Businesses were so unprepared that it disrupted 200,000 IT systems around the world, including those of large enterprises.

Additionally, security experts say that spam is becoming an increasingly successful attack vector, with cybercriminals now aiming to gain access to a computer network and damage it. When hit by malware, organizations have to:

  • Allocate resources for recovering and securing compromised employee and customer data
  • Pay forensic and legal fees to deal with regulatory bodies and disgruntled customers
  • Cover regulatory fines and penalties
  • Incur cybersecurity costs for restoring systems, preventing further damage, and stymying future attacks.

Phishing attacks

Phishing emails are a very effective tactic. In fact, when it comes to spam, the chance of someone clicking a malicious link or downloading a malware attachment increases by 12% if it appears to come from a legitimate source. Links, in particular, lead to spoofed websites that trick victims into giving away confidential information like payment and login credentials.

Unproductive employees

Having a chock-full of irrelevant messages that need filtering wastes a lot of your employees’ time. This means they have to spend time updating spam filters, which could cost you thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Time spent dealing with those tasks could be otherwise spent on core business operations.

How to defend against spam

Protecting your business from spam and other email-based threats is ultimately a collaboration between management and employees. Take a look at some of these tips on how to defend against spam:

Report suspicious emails

Collecting security data can be a daunting task. To streamline and centralize information gathering, you need an IT team that can provide an avenue for employees to report all suspicious emails in a convenient and accessible manner.

Train and educate your employees

Because your employees are your first line of defense, train them in the following best practices:

  • Verify suspicious emails. Teach them not to click on any links or download any attachments and to verify unfamiliar contacts especially if the urgent message seems dubious.
  • Never send private information via email. Legitimate companies will never ask you to send passwords, bank credentials, social security numbers, or any other important information via email.
  • Create backups. Have at least three copies of your critical data, and one of those copies should be off-site using a cloud backup solution from a trusted managed services provider (MSP).
  • Utilize multifactor authentication (MFA). To enhance your email security, train your employees to use MFA. This verifies a user’s identity by requiring multiple credentials in order to access their accounts.

Customize solutions based on your organization’s needs

Email security is not just a matter of installing a security solution and expecting it to automatically safeguard against every attack. It requires a comprehensive strategy that will change according to the situation and needs of your business.

For example, spam filtering is a must in this day and age, even if your mail host has a spam filter. Consider asking your MSP about services that specifically protect against pesky spam. Your MSP should be able to keep your subscriptions up to date, and ensure workstations are scanned regularly.

It’s never too late to bolster your email security. You can still gain an advantage over cybercriminals and fraudsters by calling us today for a 14-day free trial. It’s really simple and activation only takes a minute to start your journey toward better, safer email security.