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1/4 of email attacks result in employee termination - survey

21 Mar 2018

Global market research from Proofpoint, a cybersecurity company, has revealed that nearly one in four email-based attacks (24%) resulted in employment termination.

The study also showed that 82% of boards are concerned with email fraud and more than half (59%) consider it a top security risk - no longer just an IT issue.

However, almost a third (30%) of respondents cited a lack of executive support as a key challenge to email fraud protection deployment.

“Email fraud is highly pervasive and deceptively simple; hackers don’t need to include attachments or URLs, emails are distributed in fewer volumes, and typically impersonate people in authority for maximum impact,” says Proofpoint email security products vice president Robert Holmes.

“These and other factors make email fraud, also known as business email compromise (BEC), extremely difficult to detect and stop with traditional security tools. Our research underscores that organisations and boardrooms have a duty to equip the entire workforce with the necessary solutions and training to protect everyone against this growing threat.”

Proofpoint’s 2018 ‘Understanding Email Fraud Survey’, asked 2,250 senior IT decision makers across the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Australia for their email fraud experiences from the last two years.

The survey, conducted by research firm Censuswide, demonstrates that email fraud is pervasive, disruptive, and in many cases, catching businesses unprepared.

It also found that 75% of organisations experienced at least one targeted email fraud attack, with 41% suffering multiple attempts in the last two years.

However, some organisations are taking proactive measures to protect both their brand and their employees.

More than half (57%) have implemented a user-awareness program on phishing, and 46% use email authentication.

More than 77% of businesses expect they will fall victim to email fraud in the next 12 months, and yet only 40% have full visibility into email threats.

There is a disconnect between the anxiety felt by IT decision makers in relation to protecting the organisation from email fraud and the buy-in from the boardroom to implement preventative methods.

Cybercriminals are also reaching deeper into the organisation beyond the C-suite.  

Respondents deemed the finance and accounts payable departments most at risk of receiving spoofed emails, with the C-level executives almost on par with the general workforce.

More than half (56%) of respondents who were aware of a breach in the last two years, suffered downtime and disruption, and a third (33%) experienced a loss of funds.

“With 59% of organisations considering email fraud one of the top security risks to their business, it is encouraging that some are adopting techniques to protect their employees, partners, and customers,” adds Holmes.

By implementing a multi-layered defence strategy, organisations can protect their systems from advanced data-stealing attacks and their employees by blocking, detecting, and responding to email fraud attacks.  

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