Email security threats are growing fast and both individuals and organizations (big and small) are all one wrong step away from phishing, ransomware, malware, or other types of cybersecurity threats.
In fact, email itself might just be the weakest point of data security as 94% of malware is delivered via email.
This does not only affect the business financially, but the loss of sensitive data to a hacker more importantly hurts the credibility of the company and its trust and reputation with customers.
Because there are so many weak points in email security, it's important to understand them better to protect your personal or company data. This is why we have compiled a list of the biggest X email vulnerability threats that you should always watch out for.
Top Email Data Security Threats
Email is a convenient and fast way to communicate, but it's not secure. In fact, the first email is sent in 1971, so this is pretty much an ancient technology and it's a miracle we're still using it.
Yet email travels from server to server to reach the intended recipient and every email message contains some sensitive information that can hurt you or your organization.
During that "journey" between servers and from sender to recipient, all sorts of email threats lurk, including:
When we talk about email security threats, phishing attacks are usually the first thing that comes to mind.
That's for a very good reason as 75% of global organizations were hit with a phishing attack in 2020.
Phishing is any type of email communication that aims to manipulate the recipient into providing their personal information by appearing to have come from a legitimate source.
For instance, a common phishing email would be one in which the attacker claims to be from a known company and requests your private information.
However, while email phishing is the most common, it is not the only phishing attack. There are more than a dozen phishing attacks, some not even targeting email at all.
Another type of phishing is the spear-phishing attack.
Whereas a regular phishing attack attempts to trick random people into providing their sensitive information and is often hit-or-miss, a spear-phishing attack actually targets a specific individual.
As the attacker now uses the person's real name, their title or perhaps some other information (likely gained from their social media), the likelihood of giving out sensitive data greatly increases, making spear-phishing a much dangerous cyber attack.
Email spoofing is a type of cyber attack in which the attacker impersonates a legitimate sender in order to gain access to your sensitive data.
While this is similar to what email phishing does, there are several differences between the two.
First, spoofing and phishing have a different purpose.
While a phishing attack aims to obtain the victim's sensitive data, the main purpose of spoofing is identity theft.
Another difference is that a phishing email typically includes a link to a fake website that the user is "supposed" to click and provide their confidential information. A spoofing email will be similar but will instead attempt to trick the individual into taking a "precautionary action to protect their sensitive data", which in turn gives the cyber attacker access to their data.
Cyber criminals often use email to deliver malicious software or malware such as viruses, spyware, Trojans and more.
These most often come as malicious files hidden in email attachments and often hidden with legitimate programs (usually free). When the user clicks to download the regular software, they also download and install the malware.
The installed malware may then gives access to the user's private or confidential information, administrative access to their computer or server or it allows them to perform some other malicious action.
Email Vulnerability vs Email Security Threat
It's important here to make a distinction between an email vulnerability and an email threat.
An email vulnerability, or rather any data security vulnerability, is a weakness in the system that, at some point, can be exploited by a cybercriminal.
Some of the most common email security vulnerabilities to look for and solve are:
Not all data loss is the result of an intentional cyber attack by hackers. Some are due to human error.
For instance, an employee from your company may unknowingly send out customer confidential information via email or otherwise expose the organization's proprietary information.
This is usually the result of a lack of training or education as well as not having clear and documented procedures in the company regarding data loss prevention.
A misconfiguration can be in the email service itself, the server, or the system you are using. Whatever the case is, a bad configuration may allow a criminal to exploit it if they are aware of it in different ways.
Software often comes with bugs that hackers can exploit to launch their attacks. For instance, your operating system may include a bug that allows administrative access to your computer to unauthorized people.
Luckily, software bugs don't live for very long and are removed in the next version of the software, so be sure to update frequently.
How to Protect Your Sensitive Data From Cyber Attacks?
As you can see, there are email vulnerabilities and threats that you need to be aware of. Knowing and understanding them is but the first step in preventing them, but you need to go beyond that.
Education and training are also important if you want to avoid an unwanted data breach whether through email spoofing or phishing attacks. This is why you need to be able to recognize such an attempt and make a difference between a legitimate and fake email.
Furthermore, understanding the biggest points of email vulnerabilities, including email server, email client and the transmission itself, also helps mitigate the risks of email security threats.
The best way to do this is with the help of an email encryption service like Liverado that offers protection for your sensitive data in transit and at rest.
Unlike many other email clients, Liverado ensures that your outgoing emails are completely untraceable to you by removing your IP address from logs and also proving zero-data access so only you and the intended recipients can read your emails.
Looking for a secure email service that protects your right to online privacy? Sign up for Liverado now.