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Phishing attacks from email became more successful in 2021 – along with ransomware attacks, when it comes to getting victims to pay the ransom, according to new statistics from email security provider Proofpoint.
What Do Virtually All Phishing Emails Have In Common
The marketer’s new report – 2022 State of the Phish – provides insight into phishing, malicious email attacks that are often a precursor to ransomware. The report also has new details to add about ransomware.
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In 2021, “cybercriminals continue to look for people, more than equipment, and social engineering,” Adenike Cosgrove, a cybersecurity analyst at Proofpoint, said in an email to .
And well, “Cybercriminals are not only more active in 2021 compared to 2020, they are also more successful,” Cosgrove said.
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This report comes after several cyber security leaders released data on how bad things have been in the past month when it comes to cyber attacks.
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For example, SonicWall reported that the total number of ransomware attacks more than doubled in 2021 – jumping 105% in the year compared to 2020. CrowdStrike, meanwhile, revealed that data breaches related to ransomware increased by 82% in 2021, while the average ransom demand reached $316 million.
Today it’s Proofpoint’s turn. The company’s findings are based on a survey of 600 security experts and 3,500 users in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the UK and the US – as well as data from simulated phishing attacks sent by Proofpoint and from customer complaints.
Below are 22 figures from the report that stand out to me as the most important for business.
The results of phishing and ransomware investigations come as “users are feeling burned out, emotionally drained and distracted,” Proofpoint says in the report. “In the meantime, cyber attackers are as skilled as ever. And they continue to use tricks and tactics that affect both users and consumers.”
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What follows are 22 disturbing statistics about the growth of phishing and ransomware, from Proofpoint’s 2022 State of the Phish report.
“Whether it’s ransomware, commercial email compromises or many other types of threats, email continues to be the number 1 target for cybercriminals to steal data and make billions every year,” said Cosgrove. “More than 90% of targeted attacks start with email, and almost all of them rely on human interaction to work – making people the new industry area to protect.”
The focus on protecting digital systems in recent years means that attackers “have moved to connect with social engineering agents through email and various attack methods delivered through attachments or URLs,” he said. “Many consumers need email to do their jobs – and all it takes is one person to click on a link in an office document with a large malicious macro, and a downloader or other malware can be injected into the target system.”
These findings show that “although email remains the vector of choice for cybercriminals, they continue to use a variety of methods to target users,” said Cosgrove.
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In particular, the attackers took advantage of the global media and systems “to get their hands on their target,” he said.
For example, Proofpoint researchers found attackers using tricks linked to the new version of COVID-19, the Netflix show “Squid Games,” popular social media profiles, and movie streaming services. “The attackers are always looking for keywords that will get the most clicks,” Cosgrove said.
Here are some of the results the team has had in terms of successful phishing attacks (figures 8-18 for this list):
In the United States, Proofpoint’s data shows that users are exhibiting behaviors in their daily lives that can lead to attacks, Cosgrove said. Fifty-five percent of US workers surveyed admitted to having done something risky in 2021, including 26% who clicked on an email link that led to a suspicious website and 17% who accidentally compromised their credentials, he said.
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In addition, 49% believe that their organization should automatically block any suspicious or dangerous email messages – “representing a disconnect in the responsibility that employees have for the overall security posture of their organization,” Cosgrove said.
The good news in the US, however, is that many organizations are aligning their cybersecurity training to keep up with the threat landscape, Cosgrove said. Sixty-seven percent of US organizations use phishing tests to mimic popular threats, compared to a global average of 53%, he said.
“While the attackers are active – and successful – in their attacks, organizations are taking steps to strengthen their cyber defenses and keep their people at the heart of it,” said Cosgrove.
All 100% of US companies surveyed said they have a cybersecurity training program, and 64% say they assign cybersecurity training to all employees in the business, he said.
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And crucially, “the system is working, with 84% of US companies saying security awareness training has reduced phishing error rates, the most of any country surveyed,” Cosgrove said.
As another indicator, 40% of US organizations reported ransomware infections due to successful phishing attacks, less than the global average of 46%. And 79% of survey respondents in the US said that their organization experienced at least one successful email phishing attack in 2021, compared to 74% in 2020. “Although this is still increasing, it is less than what we have seen on the world stage,” said Cosgrove.
Ultimately, “multi-factor security is the best strategy against phishing emails, and the most important principle is to put people at the center of the security strategy,” he said.
“It’s critical to understand the most targeted users — what we refer to as the vulnerable — and which of them are most likely to fall for the social stigma that phishing attacks rely on,” Cosgrove said. “Users are a critical line of defense against phishing – and their essential security training provides the foundation to ensure that anyone can identify phishing emails and report them quickly.”
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Its mission is to be a digital city square for technology decision makers to gain knowledge about business-changing technology and business. Discover our details. Phishing is one of the most important threats for users to introduce malware into an organization. Good training to identify this risk in incoming emails is a table game for all groups, regardless of size. This article summarizes the latest research on the types of phishing emails out there and tips on how to improve your company’s risk posture.
According to research from Proofpoint, 75 percent of phishing attacks faced by US businesses in 2020 were successful, which is 30 percent higher than the global average. And this is despite the fact that 95 percent of organizations say that they make their employees aware of phishing.
96 percent of all phishing attacks happen via email. According to Sonic Wall’s 2020 Cyber Treat Report, cybercriminals are choosing Microsoft Office and PDF files to launch social engineering attacks, including phishing. The reason is simple…
With statistics like these, it makes sense to know the common characteristics of phishing emails. That way, you can find and report phishing baits before they destroy your company’s systems.
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According to Terranova’s 2020 Gone Phishing Tournament, nearly 20 percent of all users are likely to open emails containing phishing links. Of these, a full 67.5 percent go on to share their information/credentials with phishing websites.
Basically, this means that 13.4 percent of all users may share their passwords and other sensitive information for malicious phishing. The question is – what makes so many people click on fake links?
A look at these subject lines can tell you that cybercriminals are using three other areas:
According to ESET’s threat report, these are the most common types of malicious attachments in phishing emails:
The Real Cost Of Phishing In 2021
Check Point research says that Microsoft is the most imitated brand in phishing attempts, with many criminals trying to copy the brand’s login screen to steal user credentials.
A recent INKY study supports these findings, finding that Microsoft-related emails receive 70 percent of brand imitations, followed by Zoom, Amazon, Chase Bank and RingCentral.
The same report says that brand imitation is most commonly used by IT brands (71.8 percent), followed by telecom, retail, finance and hardware.
Organizations in the US record 2,500 internal security breaches per day, and 66 percent of organizations say that insider attacks are more likely than external attacks.
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In a survey conducted by financial services firm BDO, 34 percent of business owners said they experienced fraudulent activity involving connections between their employees and criminals. Even more surprising, 21 percent said employees initiated the fraud.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to email security, you can use a multi-pronged approach to keep attackers at bay. Start with security awareness training for your employees with a customized phishing campaign.
The idea is to switch users from potential targets to a strong defense system against phishing email attacks.
On top of that, invest in a phishing activity response tool to monitor your user traffic
How To Spot A
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