The Dangers Lurking in Your Inbox

Every now and then, an email with a catchy subject line appears in your inbox and you end up clicking on it, either because you’re curious about the subject line or because you assume the sender is trustworthy. Unfortunately, this is how most cyberattacks tend to begin – with a single click. What unfolds next only puts your security and the security of your business in grave danger.

Whether you clicked on a link or the unsubscribe button in the email, you would have potentially opened the floodgates to the possibility of single or multiple cyberattacks that could hold your business’ future hostage. According to ProofPoint’s Human Factor 2019 report, more than 99 percent of cyberattacks require human interaction to succeed. That’s why email security should be at the very top of your insurance agency’s cybersecurity concerns.

This blog will help you understand what you’re up against and how you can launch a robust counterattack.

The Art of Cyber Deception

There’s a greater psychological undercurrent to cyberattacks than you might think. Cybercriminals are hitting their targets by deceiving you and making you act irresponsibly. Threat actors continually develop and deploy sophisticated social engineering tactics to fool unassuming recipients. They observe what works and tweak their designs to make them more efficient. Regarding phishing emails alone, Google reported that 68 percent of phishing emails blocked by Gmail were new variations that were never seen before.

Cybercrime is constantly evolving to match advancements in technology. Being overconfident about your defenses or defensively underprepared is certainly not a viable stance. It’s time to adopt a proactive approach rather than a reactive one to counter this deception.

7 Cyberthreats That Infiltrate Your Inbox Regularly

Before we talk about how you can build a formidable defense against email attacks, let’s take a look at the top cyberthreats that frequently make their way into your inbox and wreak havoc.

1. Phishing, spoofing and identity deception

Phishing involves hackers deploying various social engineering tactics to tempt users into clicking on malicious links and unwittingly giving up confidential information, such as user credentials. Hackers invest a tremendous amount of effort into assuming the identity of a trusted source, making sure that it is YOU who lets them into the system. Once they’re in, they can either install malware on your network’s systems, access and misuse sensitive data, or simply lock your systems and demand a hefty ransom.

Data suggests that this menace is only growing stronger. Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report stated that 22 percent of all breaches in 2020 involved phishing. Even well-informed users fall prey to such attacks adds to this conundrum. In a study conducted by BullPhish ID, it was observed that 18.6 percent of users that clicked on simulated phishing campaigns demonstrated a willingness to submit credentials or requested data.

2. Business Email Compromise (BEC) and spear phishing

Business email compromise (BEC) attacks ballooned by nearly 100 percent in 2019 according to a GreatHorn report. In a (BEC) scam, the attacker hacks into your agency’s email accounts to impersonate employees or any of your organization’s important leaders with intent to defraud your company and its stakeholders into sending money or sharing sensitive data. Spear phishing works in a similar fashion. An attacker dupes the user by making it look like a malicious email originated from a trusted source.

If you want to get a fair idea about the damage a BEC scam can do, take a minute and think of the massive financial and reputational loss your agency would suffer if an attacker impersonates you and carries out fraudulent activities in your name.

3. Account takeovers

Taking identity impersonation one step further, account takeovers exploit your compromised user credentials to target both your financial stability and reputation. Cybercriminals take control of one account, and then access others. For instance, they could get into one of your client’s bank accounts and carry out fraudulent transactions. Criminals aren’t only targeting your agency. They’re using your compromised credentials as a gateway to also exploit your clients too.

4. Malicious malware and viruses

Although used interchangeably, malware and viruses differ on technical grounds.

· Malware is any type of malicious software, irrespective of how it works.

· Viruses are a specific type of malware that self-replicate after entering other programs.

Both pose an enormous threat to your agency’s IT environment. CSO Online revealed that 92 percent of all malware is delivered via email and that’s why we’ve included it in our list. As mentioned earlier, all it takes is a simple click for an attacker to gain access to your network’s systems and plant malware or a virus.

5. Ransomware

A ransomware attack occurs when a hacker breaches your network’s security, encrypts your data and demands a hefty ransom for the restoration of that data. In Q2 2020, average ransom demands were pegged at $178,254, which was 60% higher than in Q1 2020 and a whopping 432% higher than in Q3 2019 ($41,198).

Even if you opt to pay the ransom, you have no guarantees the attackers would provide the means to decrypt and restore data, nor can you be certain the data will not be sold, exposed or targeted for a direct attack at some later date.

6. Insider threats: The human element

Insider threats are posed by individuals within your organization or closely related to it, such as current or former employees, vendors and partners. Acting unwittingly or out of malice, they can easily let an attacker into the system, leaving all your sensitive data exposed.

In fact, according to Verizon in their 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report, over one-third of data breaches worldwide involved internal actors. An Egress study revealed that 31 percent of employees have mistakenly sent an email containing sensitive data to the wrong person.

7. Misconfigurations

Last but certainly not the least deadly, misconfigurations in your email platform can expose your network to a host of threats. For example, it could allow the sending of emails without authentication. If a cybercriminal exploited this vulnerability, they could send out emails impersonating anyone from the company’s executive level plunging you into a full-blown PR crisis.

It’s Time to Engage All Defenses

Your firewall and antivirus won’t stop an attack caused by most of the cyberthreats listed above. An attack takes place almost every 39 seconds (or approximately 2,240 times a day, as per the University of Maryland). The longer you wait, the more likely you are to be a hacker’s next victim. You need to go on the offensive. A managed IT services partner can help you craft a robust two-pronged approach – implementing the best cybersecurity solutions and providing your employees with extensive security awareness training.

At Kite, our comprehensive, multi-layered approach is designed to extend 24/7 protection to our clients. Our cybersecurity services follow best practices, help you meet regulatory compliance and protect your insurance agency through:

  • Firewall & Network Monitoring, Support and Maintenance
  • Email Security
  • AV / Malware Protection & Remediation
  • Enhanced Endpoint Security
  • Security Awareness Training
  • Risk Assessments
  • Vulnerability Scanning
  • Enhanced DNS Security
  • Dark Web Monitoring
  • Enhanced Endpoint Security

Don’t wait for a cybercriminal to strike. Contact us today and safeguard your business.

Article curated and used by permission.

adam atwell

Adam Atwell

Cloud solutions architect

Adam is passionate about consulting with organizations across the country to help them develop and execute a cloud adoption strategy that meets their business needs and future objectives. Adam oversees and manages our company strategy for Microsoft 365 adoption and is responsible for future growth and development inside Microsoft 365 and other cloud technologies.