75% of Cyberattacks Start With an Email, Report Says

According to findings from the IT security firm Trend Micro, cloud-based email servers are being targeted the most.
Isobel O'Sullivan

Turns out your inbox might not be as safe as you think, with a report from Trend Micro revealing that three-quarters of all cyberattacks start with phishing emails.

The report also found that malicious actors take advantage of cloud misconfigurations, with security breaches on the network increasing 50% year-on-year.

Fortunately, cybercrime doesn't appear to be growing across all critical areas. But as the cyber underworld continues to level up their strategies, business owners need to do what they can to protect their data and button down their digital hatches.

Phishing Attacks Are More Rampant Than Ever

According to Trend Micro's Annual Report, if there is one thing cybercriminals are good at, it's being opportunistic. The research found that malicious actors were quick to exploit workers growing dependence on email throughout 2021, with more than 10 million instances of spam fishing taking place throughout the calendar year.

As for the subject lines, themes around the pandemic and Covid-19 vaccine appeared to be the most common, as cybercriminals played on the contemporary concerns of internet users.

“Attackers are always working to increase their profit, whether through quantity or efficiency attacks,” said Jon Clay, vice president of threat intelligence at Trend Micro.

The report also noted that there was a particular escalation of cloud security breaches, with cloud-based email threats increasing by 50% from the year previous. The findings attributed this sharp rise to hacking groups like TeamTNT that made their riches by scouring servers for configuration weaknesses.

With IT security companies blocking a total of 94 billion threats in 2021 alone, they claim that the growth of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) groups and initial access brokers also contributed to the sharp uptick.

Cyberthreats Aren’t on The Rise Across the Board

While these findings may seem sobering, it's not all doom and gloom. The report found that business email compromise (BEC) scams — a type of scam where phishing emails claim to come from a reputable source like a CEO — decreased by 11%.

What's more, Jon Clay, vice president of threat intelligence at Trend Micro, pointed out that cyber-attacks fell in a number of other critical areas, as attacks became more precisely targeted.

The decline of certain attacks is also thanks to the increasing sophistication of tools like author analysis, a security measure that automatically blocks all emails written with a suspicious or alarming writing style.

How Can I Make Sure My Business Is Secure?

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, there are ways to take your business out of harm's way.

By training your workforce about the dangers of phishing and reminding them to look out for red flags like suspect subject lines, untrustworthy links, and requests for personal information, you can keep more threats at bay by lowering cases of employee negligence.

Additionally, if you lack the support of an IT team, by taking other preventative measures like buying or updating your antivirus software and securing your data in the cloud, you'll be able to strengthen your company's security strategy.

For more detailed advice on how to keep your business safe online, follow these useful internet safety tips.

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Isobel is a writer at Tech.co with a wealth of experience covering business and technology news. Since specializing in Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also spent time working as a freelance tech researcher. As a writer, Isobel takes a particular interest in issues regarding data security, social media, and emerging business technology.

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