Global email users are estimated to reach around 4.6 billion in 2025, and digital marketers are reveling in that news. Email marketing continues to be one of the highest ROI [return on investment] communication channels in 2021, and that fact does not seem to change in the near future.
In parallel to the promotion opportunities that email marketing gives to digital marketers, many challenges arise regarding security. According to estimations, around 91 percent of cyberattacks start with phishing emails. This, in turn, is increasing the necessity to install a robust security system against cyberattacks.
Below you can find the main threats that email marketers are likely to face in 2021 and how they can fight against them.
Phishing emails and web attacks are not new, but they have recorded unprecedented rates in 2021. Statistics show that there were 27 percent more phishing sites (more than 2,145,000) in January of 2021 compared to the previous year.
Phishing attacks occur when a user opens an email and clicks on a link, which then initiates the installation of a malware source. Later, the malware will freeze the operations of the computer or the hacker will have the gateway to steal private credentials or gain access to all of the user’s accounts.
Potential victims receive realistic emails, with the design and communication style mimicking the real formal communication. Consequently, many organizations worldwide actively practice employee training mechanisms so that they can identify and avoid suspicious emails.
EasyDMARC is a cybersecurity SaaS, which aims to prevent email phishing and unauthorized usage of domains for enterprise environments. By putting the DMARC DNS record on the company domain, users get periodic reports on the main email security threats for a particular domain and the instructions to enhance the protection.
Impersonation and Account Takeover (ATO) Attacks
Impersonation and Account Takeover (ATO) attacks allow hackers to gain access to the victim’s accounts. That might often be a threat to the user’s financial accounts, as fraudsters acquire the account credentials for banks, ecommerce websites and the like.
Gartner identifies Office 365 Account Takeover as one of the increasingly popular techniques of email hackers. The attackers send phishing emails posing as the Office 365 Administrator asking the user to login and reset their password. The user falls victim to the scam and enters their credentials and the attacker records the credentials and uses them to log into the account. Further, the phishing emails go viral through the internal mailboxes of the entire organization.
ATOs are hard to detect because they appear to be from reliable people within the organization. In more advanced hacks, the hacker manipulates the broken account’s notifications, pushing the actual owner to overlook the suspicious activities occurring under their name.
Proofpoint Email Fraud Defense (EFD) provides authentication of all incoming and outgoing email communication. The integration of EFD secures both the internal communication between the members of the same organization and the outside communication between the business and its partners or customers. EFD has identity deception features—a common attack point for Account Takeover (ATO) attempts—which automatically block the lookalike domains that the email account owners do not use.
A formally written email that kindly invites the receiver to view more on the attached document might seem innocent at first glance. However, the popularity of attachment-based email attacks leaves space for being careful.
A common attachment-based threat is ransomware, where hackers encrypt their victim’s data and make them pay for restoring it. Another common threat is the keylogger. Once the user clicks on the malware attachment and the keylogger is issued, it starts recording all the keys that users enter for their different accounts.
The popular formats of email attachments which should be double-checked before clicking include .iso and .exe. files.
Those are only a few email security alerts that digital marketers are likely to face. However, in parallel to technological development, new types of email security attacks might arise that might be hard to predict in advance. That’s why email security integrations should be a regular practice, especially for large enterprises.