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Email continues to be a preferred means of communication today, even with the influx of many social media and instant messaging tools. A report by Radicati Group shows that 293 billion emails a day will be sent and received in 2019 and this number is expected to grow to 347 billion a day by 2023. Currently, half the world's population is using email for communication and this is expected to increase to 4.3 billion users by 2023. Much of this growth is likely to happen in business communication, given that suppliers, clients, employees, and other stakeholders are spread across the globe.
On the flip side, poor email security practices have also made it a vulnerable medium that's being increasingly tapped by cyber attackers to gain confidential information. Statistics show that 91% of cyber attacks start with emails and 92% of malware attackers prefer to use emails as the medium for infecting computers and networks.
This brings the focus on email security and the different strategies you should use to ensure that the emails you send or receive is safe and does not harm your computer/network in any way.
Importance of email security
Email security has become an integral part of cybersecurity today because a ton of confidential corporate information is exchanged through emails. This also means a single wrong-click by an employee can have serious security repercussions for the company as a whole.
Some of the possible problems that can come with poor or no email security policy are:
Ransomware attacks are one of the biggest email security threats for organizations today. In this form of attack, malware is sent through email to a group of employees and when an unsuspecting employee clicks this link, it infects the entire network. A ransom that could run into thousands of dollars is demanded by the perpetrators to unlock the network and to "clear" the malware.
It is estimated that businesses lose more than $75 million a year in ransomware attacks and a new organization is attacked every 14 seconds. This frequency of attack is expected to come down to 11 seconds by 2022.
A common result of poor email security is identity theft, where the personal and confidential information of employees such as social security number, date of birth, bank details, credit card details, and more, are stolen and sold in the dark web world. Sometimes, the credit card details and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of customers are also hacked and sold.
As a result, an employee's/customer's credit standing can get affected and in turn, this negatively impacts the credibility, reputation, and the financial liability of the organization.
One of the biggest results of an email attack is the ensuing financial loss for the company. According to the latest report from the FBI, $12.5 billion has been lost in 2018 due to email attacks and scams.
Much of this loss has come from Business Email Scams (BEC), where the sender poses as a legitimate person and asks for confidential information about the organization as well as employees. When a victim falls for this scam, it results in a big loss for the organization.
The FBI report further states that there has been a 136% increase in BEC scams from December 2016 to May 2018 and this has affected more than 150 countries around the world.
In addition to BEC scams, other forms of email attack such as phishing, spam, malware, and ransomware also add to the financial burden.
The number of devices that connect to a corporate network is growing by the day, thanks to Bring-Your-Own-Device policies where users can connect to a network through their personal device and continue with their work. Though BYOD offers a ton of flexibility for both employers and employees, it also opens up more opportunities for an email hack because the fine line between personal and corporate emails can get blurred.
There is always a possibility for competitors to steal your confidential data, especially financial statements and secret negotiations with prospective clients, and use it to their advantage.
Besides competitors, if such confidential information falls into the hands of miscreants, they can even use it to bring a bad reputation to a company or to get a financial gain.
These risks clearly point to the immediate need for email security tools and practices that can protect the interests of organizations and their stakeholders.
Unfortunately, finding the right tools and strategies is not easy simply because the attacks are evolving faster than defenses. Solutions that were built for fighting email attacks are woefully inadequate as is evident from the growing rate of cyber attacks through emails.
Hence, businesses are always looking for better tools that will give them greater security and visibility into the attacks. In addition, they also need monitoring tools that will proactively scan networks and emails and will flag any potential problem.
These tools also have to be backed by the right processes and policies to ensure that the protection is comprehensive and fool-proof.
A career in email security
The above needs of organizations coupled with the growing rate of attacks open new opportunities in the field of email security. In fact, a report by CSO states that there will be around 3.5 million unfilled jobs in this sector by 2021 in the United States alone.
NASSCOM estimates that India will need more than one million cybersecurity professionals by 2020 to meet the demands of its growing economy.
These numbers give you an idea about the huge gaps that are prevailing today and the opportunities that it can offer for the right person.
In order to make the most of the opportunities present in the cybersecurity industry, it is important to have in-depth knowledge about this sector as well as the different tools and strategies that can help you make that crucial difference for your organization.
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