Email-based business workflows are the heart of how every organization operates and the shift to remote work has made business workflows more vulnerable to new forms of email-based attacks, financial fraud and credential theft, according to Armorblox.
In its annual Email Security Threat Report, the Sunnyside-Calif.,-based cloud security provider reveals 75% of business email compromise emails use language as the main attack vector.
Armorblox analysts note 87% of credential phishing attacks looked like legitimate common business workflow in order to trick end users into engaging with email.
Despite security teams spending a lot of time configuring rules and exceptions in their email security solutions to block impersonation emails—both for executives and other employees, 70% of impersonation emails evaded email security controls.
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Socially engineered, targeted attacks are advancing, presenting a higher likelihood of getting past native security layers that still rely on manually configured rules and exception lists. Stopping targeted attacks requires custom models that understand good and bad patterns of communications in each organization using the content and context inside of email communications, according to the company.
The 5 Most Commonly Spoofed Workflows
Armorblox notes five most commonly spoofed workflows:
View Document: be cautious of notifications asking to review a document that someone has shared
Email Notifications: Notifications from an email provider about the status of a mailbox (e.g. email has been quarantined, mailbox is full)
Application Notifications: Shipment notifications from Amazon, USPS or account alerts from AMEX and other providers
Password Reset: Notifications from services that the organization uses asking to reset or update passwords
Voicemail Notifications: alerts to go listen to a voicemail or that the users inbox is full
The rise of SaaS solutions driving business workflows has also created a huge surge in brand impersonation of companies. Dropbox, Microsoft, and DocuSign were among the most impersonated brands in 2021, Armorblox’s report notes.
Attackers are moving away from decades-old approaches that use malicious links or attachments in broad-based attack campaigns, to targeted attacks where the language in the email is used to compromise a user’s trust.
“Based on threats analyzed by Armorblox across our customer base of over 58,000 organizations, we see a sharp increase in email attacks targeting critical business workflows. These use language as the primary attack vector and impersonate VIPs, known vendors, and SaaS applications,” said DJ Sampath, Co-founder and CEO of Armorblox, in a statement. “It is critical that organizations augment their existing email security stack with modern API-based solutions that build custom models specifically focused on these targeted attacks.
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