Email is one of the most common—and effective—ways for cybercriminals to steal information from companies and organizations. While it may seem obvious that email is an insecure way to communicate data, many companies still rely on this communication channel as a work-related tool. In reality, hackers have become very adept at using email as a vehicle for breaching your system’s defenses. Here are some common reasons hackers use email to gain access:
Cybercriminals Are Becoming More Sophisticated
As cyber criminals become more sophisticated, they’re using new techniques and tools to attack companies. They’re targeting people more often, companies more frequently and industries more broadly. Hackers are also targeting countries globally at a higher rate than ever before.
In addition to investing in technology that can help detect and prevent attacks, you need to know what’s happening on the inside of your organization if you want to protect it from hackers. With so many employees accessing email every day, there are plenty of opportunities for malicious actors to slip through the cracks into your network. Focusing on cybersecurity insights can help you understand the newest ways that hackers are sneaking in through vulnerabilities and ignorance.
Employees Can Be Tricked by Phishing and Social Engineering Tactics
You may have heard of phishing and social engineering. Though these are two different tactics, they are often used together to try to trick you into giving up information or access to your systems. Phishing is when an email is sent from a spoofed source asking you for sensitive information like passwords or credit card numbers. Emails can also ask for money transfers or even download malware onto the computer of the person receiving it. If you get one of these emails, don’t click on the links in them—just delete them immediately.
Social engineering involves manipulating people into doing what hackers want them to do without realizing it’s wrong because they believe they’re helping out a colleague or friend at work who needs assistance with something important. For example, if someone calls claiming they need help fixing their account, it’s best to have protocols in place to verify their identity.
Email Is a Common Work-Related Communication Channel
Email is the most common method of communication in the workplace. It’s convenient, it’s easy to use and it’s well-established. Almost every company uses email to communicate with employees and customers, which means that hackers know that people are more likely to open emails from trusted sources such as vendors and suppliers. Email also makes it easy for hackers to send attachments that can infect a user’s computer or device with malware or ransomware.
Companies Fail to Educate Employees on Best Practices
Employees are the first line of defense. As such, companies need to educate their employees on how to spot phishing emails and social engineering tactics. Employees need to be educated about malicious attachments and links within emails as well. If your company does not have a security awareness program in place, this is the first place you should start. A comprehensive program will help keep your organization safe from hackers.
There Are High Rewards in Stolen Data
In most cases, hackers are after the data you have. Stolen data can be used for blackmail, extortion, and other nefarious purposes. Data can also be sold on the black market for a high price—often in the millions of dollars. Some hackers use email to breach your systems because they’re looking for specific information that can be used as leverage against others. They may even try stealing sensitive customer data so they can do a variety of identity theft practices as well.
Growing Mobile Workforce Can Be Hard to Monitor
As the number of mobile devices grows, hackers can also use them to access company networks. Mobile devices are often used for personal and business use, which can be a security problem if employees aren’t aware of best practices. Employees may not realize that their phone has been infected with malware or that it is being used by hackers as a gateway into the system. Mobile devices can also be lost or stolen, putting your company at risk for data breaches and financial losses.
So, what does this mean for organizations? It’s important to be aware of email vulnerabilities and use the right tools to protect your data. You also need to invest in training employees on phishing attacks as well as other social engineering techniques so they can spot them before they become victims.