Cybercriminals Focus on Compromising Employee Email Accounts
Cybercriminals ramped up email attacks last month. Cyber security researchers say cyberattacks targeting businesses email accounts spiked 64% in May. Phishing emails made up the majority of the attacks – increasing by an astounding 150% in just one month.
Email account takeovers were the main goal for most of the schemes.
The number of successful email account takeovers increased by 83%. That means hackers are not only increasing the number of attacks but also becoming more successful at it.
Key Email Attack May Metrics
- Increase in advanced email Attacks +83%
- Spiek in Credential Phishing +156%
- Successful Account Takeovers +83%
- Attempted but Failed Account Takeovers +138%
Cybercriminals behind the email attacks may be incentivized by a recent series of high profile ransomware attacks that’s court handsome payouts.
“Combined with the recent increase in high-profile ransomware attacks, this data leads us to believe that we have entered into a period of heightened risk, as cyber criminals are emboldened by the prospect of large financial payouts,” say cyber security researchers at Abnormal Security.
Huge Ransomware Payouts Set a Bad Precedent
In May, US refined oil transporter Colonial Pipeline was paralyzed by a week-long ransomware attack. Cybercriminals compromised Colonial’s IT network with DarkSide ransomware rendering the company dead in the water with no access to their own systems. Colonial paid the equivalent of $2.4 million USD in ransom to regain control of their IT own system.
The US Federal Bureau of investigations (FBI) was able to recover about half of what Colonial Pipeline paid in ransom.
The attackers behind DarkSide ransomware, Evil Corp, quickly closed up shop. However, they resurfaced about two weeks later under a new name, Bubuk.
To kick off the new month of June, cybercriminals attacked American meat processor JBS Foods. The company paid $11 million USD to their attackers for the decryption keys and to regain control of their IT network.
How to Defend Against Email Attacks
- Use strong passwords for all online account logins – even seemingly innocuous accounts like shopping loyalty programs and social media
- Never reuse a password on more than one login account of any kind
- If you cannot remember a hard-to-guess and unique password for each of your online accounts consider using a password manager to create and store them for you. Password managers can be synced across all of your computers, tablets, and phones so you won’t have to worry about forgetting a password or getting locked out.
- Never click on a link in an email or text message from somebody you don’t know or in a message you weren’t expecting. Many high-profile, enterprise-level ransomware attacks get started because one employee clicked on a link that launched a massive malware attack.
- Use a quality antivirus app to protect all of your phones, tablets, and computers from malware and ransomware, malicious websites, and phishing emails