In a year-long study observing the efficacy of traditional email defenses, it was discovered that over two million malicious emails were able to breach secure email gateways between July 2020 and July 2021, according to data from Tessian. It was discovered that the average user receives between 14 and 49 of these malignant messages in their personal and professional inboxes. Read on to learn more about what you can do to strengthen your email security and protect yourself from these furtive cyber attacks.

Who Sends Malicious Mail and Why?

At the helm of these unwanted correspondences are cybercriminals looking to make a payload. Many are motivated by a desire to collect information or gain access to systems and may target specific individuals or groups (i.e. employees of a targeted company). Others are looking to collect personal and financial information of individuals with the goal of identity theft and personal gain. Others simply seek the thrill of infecting your computer or phone with viruses and malware.

Who Is at Risk?

Those who work in the retail industry are at the highest risk, receiving an average of 49 spam messages yearly. Not far behind, employees in the manufacturing industry tend to receive 31 malicious messages each year. However, you don’t need to be in the retail or manufacturing industry to be targeted by phishing emails; the average user receives 14 malicious messages yearly.

What Phishing Methods do Cybercriminals Use?

While attachments were once the leading method used by attackers to mislead recipients into infecting their devices with malware, traditional email defenses have begun to recognize these types of emails as unsafe. This has forced cybercriminals to find new modes of phishing, such as sending URLs or requesting credentials or wire transfers using impersonation techniques.

Attackers employ a range of impersonation techniques to avoid being detected. Domain impersonation and display name spoofing are two of the most common tactics for fooling the attacker’s target. By changing the sender’s name to disguise as someone the target recognizes or fabricating an email address that looks legitimate, cybercriminals can easily slip past your email’s basic security defenses. Some commonly impersonated corporations include Amazon, Zoom, Microsoft, and Adobe Sign.

How Do Cybercriminals Sneak Past Security?

In addition to falsifying sender information, attackers use specific times of year and times of day to help their emails slip past basic security measures. Many malicious messages are sent out between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in hopes of catching a tired or distracted employee off guard, while others capitalize on holidays like Black Friday, where users expect an influx of emails and are less likely to detect spam.

Clearly, standard cybersecurity measures are not enough to protect users from incoming phishing lures and spam. Even with cybersecurity training, employees are not equipped to recognize and detect every attempt at cybercriminal activity. The best solution is to employ an agnostic AI-driven security system to reduce time to detection and thereby protect your data from exposure to unknown threats. If you’re looking to protect yourself from undetected malicious attacks, Starpoint (Quantum Star’s AI-based malware detection software) is the solution.

Utilizing deep learning, Starpoint can discover previously unknown threats at the binary level. The machine learning process allows Starpoint to understand data at a layer that is often not readable by humans and overlooked by other solutions. To learn more about this bleeding edge technology, visit Quantum Star Technology here.