The costs of email attack is devastating for businesses. These costs include financial loss and payout, but also the negative branding and reputational harm. The average cost of a spear or phishing incident runs upwards of anywhere between $1.6 and $2 million dollars. Part of the reason that this is the place where businesses are vulnerable is that it is up to each individual employee to read and interpret emails to make sure they are legitimate.
Most of the time, large businesses are hacked when a small or medium business that they do business with has been put under email attack. The cybercriminals use this channel to get to the data of the larger company as well. The types of the breadth of email phishing attacks vary. A few examples from 2018 exemplify the scale of phishing attacks. These include rentals during the World Cup in which people wanted to gain personal information through promising free trips or lodging to the World Cup. Another example is email account takeovers where the behavior of the customer is studied.
Verizon conducted a report and found that about 50 percent of the people who receive a phishing email, actually click on the link. The email attacks lead directly to data breaches and possible identity theft. This spear fishing represents an evolution of email attack from broad and general to targeted and focused.
Cybercriminals have different reasons for wanting to gain entry into a customer database or other dataset. These include malware, authentication credentials discovery, and corporate information requests.
Malware is a general term for any type of malicious email attack that puts a virus, spyware, or worm on a computer. Authentic credentials discovery is a prime way that identity theft happens. The email attack is designed to access databases full of private information. Cybercriminals often want some level of corporate information including proprietary or patent information.
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