Email Threats Are Still on the Rise

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Email continues to be used as one of the more common attack vectors for malware and phishing scams, and the frequency has doubled in the past year.

According to cybersecurity organization Trend Micro, email threats have risen 101 percent throughout 2021 compared to 2020. The company has reported blocking over 33.6 million harmful emails during that period, which is slightly more than twice the number it had dealt with during the previous year. The data was collected across platforms like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.

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In addition to the increase in general email threats, Trend Micro notes that certain kinds of email attacks have become more common. It says that it detected and stopped 16.5 million phishing attacks, 138 percent more than it had previously handled, which seemed to be targeting hybrid workforces. Trend Micro also spotted 3.3 million harmful files piggybacking on various emails, showing a 221-percent increase in unknown or unrecognized forms of malware.

Though something Trend Micro cites as a sort of silver lining is that ransomware attacks appear to still be declining—averaging a drop of about 43 percent every year. It theorizes that this is because attacks are being used with more precision, with specific targets in mind.

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"Each year, we see innovation in the threat landscape and an evolution of the corporate attack surface, but each year email remains a major threat to organizations," said Trend Micro's VP of Threat Intelligence, Jon Clay, in the announcement. "The best shot defenders have at mitigating these risks is by taking a platform-based approach, to shine a powerful light on threats and deliver streamlined prevention, detection, and response..."

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