In an increasingly digital world, email remains one of the most essential means of communication for individuals and organizations. However, as our reliance on email grows, so does the sophistication and prevalence of cyber threats targeting our inboxes. A new report highlights how bad our threat landscape has become — and how important it is for managed services providers (MSPs), organizations, and individuals to take extra steps to protect themselves.
Phishing has long been a favored tactic among cybercriminals, but the reliance on malicious links within these emails has reached unprecedented levels in Q2 2023, according to a new report by the VIPRE Security Group. According to the report, a staggering 85 percent of phishing emails sent during this period contained malicious links, often disguised as legitimate URLs, luring unsuspecting recipients into clicking on them.
Further reading Methods and Types of Phishing Attacks
Once clicked, these links can lead to various malicious outcomes, including data theft, redirecting victims to fake login pages to steal login credentials, malware distribution, financial fraud by deceiving victims into making financial transactions to fraudulent accounts, ransomware attacks, and more. These serious consequences can cause significant financial, operational, and reputational harm to an organization and its customers.
The 85 percent prevalence of malicious links in phishing emails found in the report in Q2 2023 is a stark reminder of the evolving nature of cyber threats and the continued prevalence of email as a key attack vector. This statistic signifies a significant increase in the use of malicious links compared to previous quarters, indicating that cybercriminals are constantly refining their tactics to bypass email security measures.
Another concerning trend highlighted by the report is the 30 percent increase in spam emails reported between Q1 and Q2 2023. While spam emails often serve as a delivery mechanism for phishing attacks, they can also overload inboxes, making it easier for malicious emails to slip through the cracks. This rising tide of spam underscores the need for enhanced email security measures and increased awareness training.
As a trusted advisor and MSP partner, there are a number of things you can do to better protect your customers amidst this rising threat. First, ensure that they have email filtering and security solutions in place that can identify and block phishing emails, even those with sophisticated malicious links. This will help block some of the incoming attacks to customer organizations.
Additional tools include multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security and make it more challenging for attackers to compromise accounts even if they obtain login credentials. MSPs should also ensure that they implement regular updates and patching to keep software, operating systems, and email clients up to date to mitigate vulnerabilities that attackers may exploit.
Finally, educating employees and customers about the dangers of phishing and the importance of verifying email sources before clicking links or downloading attachments is important. This will help to provide employees with the tools and techniques to protect themselves from those emails that do (inevitably) breakthrough technology protections and into their inboxes.
Further reading Anti-Phishing Training Importance Explained
The VIPRE Security Group's report for Q2 2023 paints a sobering picture of the growing threat of malicious links in phishing emails. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, individuals and organizations must remain vigilant and proactive in protecting their data and systems. By implementing robust email security measures, raising awareness, and staying informed about emerging threats, we can collectively work towards thwarting the rising tide of cyberattacks in an increasingly digital world.