How Can We Stop Business Email Compromise?

Business email remains the number one form of communication for companies both internally and externally. It also contains a lot of sensitive information that makes it a target for hackers.

According to a 2019 cybercrime report by the FBI, losses from attacks on business email were approximately $1.7 billion, accounting for nearly half of all cybercrime losses.

One of the biggest recent hacks related to business email happened during the first few months of 2021. A state-based hacking group called Hafnium found four vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server and began exploiting them.

Before Microsoft could get patches out (which they did in March 2021), it’s estimated that at least 250,000organizations have suffered a breach of their business email. Many of them are small businesses.

Compromised business email accounts can come in many forms. Because email is used as the main communication method and the main conduit for phishing attacks, it’s fertile ground for hackers. Here are some of the ways that business email can be compromised and used by cybercriminals.

Business Domain Used for Phishing Attacks

Once your business email account is compromised, a hacker can use it to send out spam and phishing emails. Using a legitimate company’s email address gives a phishing email a better chance at fooling the user into downloading malware or taking another desired action.

This is especially true if the phishing emails are being sent to that company’s employees, customers, or vendors, who will instantly recognize the company domain.

Access Employee Email Logins

If a hacker gains access with admin privileges to your email system, they could get their hands on a list of user email passwords. Knowing that people tend to reuse their passwords across different accounts, once a hacker has a list of username/password combinations they can use that to try to break into other accounts or make some money selling them on the Dark Web.

Approximately 65% of people reuse the same password for multiple logins.

Access to Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

If you have to abide by any data privacy regulations, like PCI or HIPAA, you’re familiar with the need to protect PII. An email compromise can expose your business contact list, which is often part of an email system, as well as personal information contained in email and attachments.

This can turn a business email compromise incident into a major data breach.

Theft of Emails & Attachments Over Time

If your email is infiltrated by a hacker, you might not know right away. They could instead do things like put a forward on emails and continue to look for any useful company information over time that they can turn into cash.

If you’re not monitoring logins or email reports, then you can easily miss this type of attack, because it’s designed to fly under the radar and be covert.

Best Practices to Protect Your Business Email from Being Compromised

Get Professional Help Maintaining On-Premises Email Servers

If you’re hosting a Microsoft Exchange Server, then you were most likely impacted by the recent hack. Some businesses are still at risk because they don’t have a professional maintaining, applying patches, and continually monitoring their server.

If you choose to run your email through an on-premises server, then it’s vital to have an IT pro, like Unbound Digital, helping you ensure it stays secure.

Defend Against Phishing With Email Filtering

Phishing is the top cause of data breaches and malware incidents. Many users have trouble identifying a fake phishing email because they’ve become so sophisticated.

One of the ways that a hacker can compromise your business email is by a user clicking a link in a phishing email and inputting their email password into a fake form.

Using spam and phishing email filtering reduces the volume of dangerous emails that make it into user inboxes, helping you mitigate the risk of your business email being compromised.

Customize Your Email Security Settings

When you use email in platforms like Microsoft 365, you have some custom security features you can use to reduce the risk of your email being hacked.

These include tactics like turning on multi-factor authentication for your users and preventing the forwarding of emails outside your domain.

Many users miss important security settings in their email programs, simply because they don’t know they’re there and they just keep everything at the default.

Working with an IT expert that knows the additional security configurations to put in place, can decrease the risk of email compromise without you having to buy any additional software.

Conduct Ongoing Employee Training

Because employees are on the front line when it comes to phishing and email compromise, they must be armed with proper training. This means doing more than a once-a-year cybersecurity awareness day.

Keep employees trained regularly and update them on the newest types of phishing ploys that might be coming their way. A well-prepared team is an effective safeguard for keeping your business email and other data more secure.

Improve Business Email Security With Help from Unbound Digital

Unbound Digital can help your Johnson City, Tennessee business deploy effective email security solutions to keep your important communications protected.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Call 423-335-2461 or reach us online.

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