Threat researchers at email security firm Armorblox have found that business email compromise (BEC) attacks have increased dramatically by 72% year-over-year. In its second, annual 2023 Email Security Threat Report, the company says it continues to see high volumes of language-based and socially engineered attacks targeting organizations of all sizes and across industries. Vendor compromise and fraud is also rising as a new attack vector and graymail is wasting 27 hours of time for security teams each week.
The Sunnyside-Calif.,-based security copmany’s report is based on data gathered across more than 58,000 customers, analyzing over 4 billion emails and stopping 800,000 threats every month.
Armorblox 2023 Email Security Report Key Findings
- Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly vulnerable to vendor fraud and supply chain email attacks. More than half of vendor compromise attacks targeted technology organizations (53%).
- Bad actors are still infiltrating legitimate business workflows to steal sensitive business information. Business workflows involving email notifications were the most compromised, a significant uptick over 2021. Half of all attacks involve sensitive user data, such as user login credentials (52%).
- BEC attacks continue to evolve. Language remains the main attack vector in 4 out of 5 (77%) BEC attacks that bypassed legacy solutions in 2022.
- With the widespread use of email for business communications, half of account compromise attacks targeted SMBs (58%), proving to be a persistent and prevalent threat.
- 20% of BEC attacks involved graymail or unwanted solicitation and security teams can find themselves spending upwards of 27 person hours a week manually sorting and deleting graymail across inboxes.
- Of all attacks in 2022, half bypassed legacy security filters (56%).
- In 2022, there was a 70% increase in phishing attacks, compared to 63% in the previous year.
Financial Fraud, Insider Threats on the Rise
In addition, financial fraud attacks such as payroll, payment and invoice fraud increased by 72% over 2022 and are expected to continue to rise in 2023. With tools such as ChatGPT, in 2023 Armorblox expects to see a significant increase in the total number of BEC emails that flood user mailboxes inside of organizations. With an increasing hybrid approach to work, more campaigns will rise that use work-from-home-related reasons to target employees.
“Based on threats analyzed by Armorblox across our customer base of over 58,000 organizations, we see over half of email attacks targeting critical business workflows aim to exfiltrate sensitive user data. These attacks often involve bad actors infiltrating legitimate business communications to alter sensitive business information, such as assigning new routing numbers for payment requests,” said DJ Sampath, co-founder and CEO of Armorblox, in a statement. “These attacks use language as the primary attack vector to impersonate trusted SaaS applications, vendors, and VIPs. This only increases the critical need for organizations to augment native and legacy security layers with modern API-based solutions that use a broad set of deep learning algorithms, machine learning models, data science approaches, and natural language-based techniques to understand the content and context of communications, and protect against these targeted attacks.”
The Armorblox 2023 Email Security Threat Report presents the associated trends for targeted email attacks across the following threat types – vendor compromise, BEC, financial fraud, phishing attacks, impersonation attacks, account compromise and graymail. The report uncovers the vulnerabilities in legacy email security filters, the sensitive user data at risk across compromised business workflows, and the gratuitous work security teams juggle in response to high volumes of graymail emails.
View Armorblox’s complete 2023 Email Security Report here.
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