Traditional Email Security is Failing; Business Leaders Must Evolve

  • By Steven
  • Jan 18, 2024

Egress Software Cybersecurity Firm

Egress Software is a cybersecurity firm specializing in digital communications. They analyze security risks within emails, messaging, documents, file-sharing gateways, and more. In their line of work, humans are the most significant cybersecurity risk to any organization. Egress recently published a 2024 security report—they’ve found that traditional email security methods aren’t working against advancing tech threats; further, it’s on the shoulders of business leaders to evolve with the threats their organizations face.

How Do the Attacks Occur? 

According to Egress’ report, 94% of their organizations’ respondents experienced email security threats last year. Of these respondents, 94% fell victim to phishing schemes, while another 91% struggled with data loss and exfiltration.

The top-performing attack vectors concerning phishing included malicious URLs, attacks from compromised accounts, and malware or ransomware. Compromised accounts were hazardous, with over 51% of organizations breached from a trusted supply chain. Meanwhile, organizations are fraught with threats from the inside. 

Outbound emails are one of the most significant sources of data loss for almost every organization. Egress suggests that these outbound data leaks come from employees; employees may break policies, make mistakes, or steal data from their previous employers. 

What Information is Targeted by Email Threats? 

Compromised accounts and subsequent account takeovers are a massive threat to organizations’ email environments. As an external threat, 79% of Egress’ associated respondents suggested their breaches began with phishing emails that targeted employee credentials. Of the phishing attacks that succeeded, 83% had multi-factor authentication that the threat actors circumvented. Consequently, these attacks allow criminals to move across networks, exfiltrating data and gathering sensitive credentials to breach other systems.

What Becomes of Organizations with Outbound Accidents? 

An estimated 91% of Egress respondents have reported significant security incidents from outbound email accidents. Of those who reported incidents, 94% reported being adversely impacted by the accident. These adverse impacts include organizations stopping operations to finish investigations (58%), unrepairable damage to client relationships (49%), clients leaving those organizations for another (22%), and some facing financial losses from regulator penalties (11%).

How Do Companies Respond to These Breaches? 

Organizations facing the consequences of these breaches take action against those at fault for the event. Successful phishing attacks resulted in more than half (51%) of the employees at fault getting disciplined, while companies fired another 39%. In comparison, breaches resulting from outbound emails had 24% of at-fault employees fired, with another 19% quitting or voluntarily leaving the company. These case numbers have resulted in 91% of cybersecurity leaders having reservations about traditional training methods; as it stands, employees aren’t training often or well enough to prevent breaches by themselves. 

What Should Business Leaders Do to Limit Data Breaches? 

Egress suggests that business leaders worry about people in their fight against data breaches; employees are at the heart of these events, whether that includes them responding to a phishing scheme or sending a sensitive email to the wrong account. Although employees receive basic training in spotting and reacting to cyber threats, this training is often not enough; it doesn’t scale to match the actual, evolving threats they face day by day. Though specialized training takes time and effort from the organization—the benefits are clear: less data loss, less reputation loss, fewer people loss, and fewer churning clients.

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