Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 21 March 2018 11:38

Email fraud continues to be Achilles' heel for business

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A survey of 2250 businesses in five countries, including Australia, claims to have found pervasive evidence of email fraud — defined as business email compromise — that is disruptive and catching businesses off-guard.

Security firm Proofpoint commissioned research company Censuswide to run the survey in the US, UK, Germany, France and Australia. Five hundred people took part in the survey in all the countries, apart from Australia where 250 were involved. Additional data was collated from the company's threat research.

The survey found that 80% of Australian organisations (75% for all five countries) experienced at least one targeted email fraud attack, with 33% suffering multiple attempts in the last two years. On the plus side, it found that more than half (54%) of Australian businesses had implemented a user-awareness programme on phishing while and 48% use email authentication.

While the same percentage (80) of Australian businesses - the overall figure was 77% - expected to fall victim to email fraud in the next 12 months, only 43% had full visibility into email threats. Sixty-two percent of Australian businesses had no financial controls in place to protect against wire transfer fraud. Forty-nine percent of Australian businesses said they were implementing a solution to prevent email fraud.

Another finding was that attackers were reaching deeper into the organisation beyond the C-suite. Respondents said the finance and accounts payable departments were most at risk of receiving spoofed emails, with the C-level executives almost on par with the general workforce.

More than one in three attacks on Australian businesses (35%) led to loss of funds. Other consequences included business disruption (55%) and loss of sensitive data (43%). Email fraud also put employees directly at risk with nearly one in four attacks (24%) resulting in loss of employment.

“Email fraud is highly pervasive and deceptively simple; hackers don’t need to include attachments or URLs, emails are distributed in fewer volumes, and typically impersonate people in authority for maximum impact,” said Robert Holmes, vice-president of Email Security Products for Proofpoint.

“These and other factors make email fraud, also known as business email compromise, extremely difficult to detect and stop with traditional security tools. Our research underscores that organisations and boardrooms have a duty to equip the entire workforce with the necessary solutions and training to protect everyone against this growing threat."

The complete Proofpoint survey can be downloaded here.

email fraud

Graphic: courtesy Proofpoint

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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