With the increase in the remote working pattern due to COVID-19, email threats against global businesses also grew by more than 64 percent last year, a recent survey shows.
According to the UK-based cybersecurity company, Mimecast’s ‘State of Email Security’ report, the hackers were smart to take advantage of users’ weak security systems and employees’ vulnerability to clicking on malicious links embedded in the emails.
“These exposure points are inflamed by so many companies rapidly adopting digital office models. Leaving employees untrained and unprotected in this highly distributed digital environment puts organizations at risk of digital deception,” said Josh Douglas, vice president of threat intelligence at Mimecast.
In 2020, the pandemic has created a huge shift in workplace patterns, with offices switching to remote working. Though some workers have returned to their offices, infection surges have kept other companies around the world shut or at half capacity.
Mimecast commissioned UK-based research company Vanson Bourne to conduct a global survey of 1,225 information technology and cyber-security professionals from the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, the UAE, Canada, Sweden and Denmark.
The survey found that employees were clicking on malicious emails three times more than they had before the pandemic and about 70 percent of global respondents believe that employee failings like weak passwords are putting their companies at risk.
The report also showed that the number of ransomware attacks rose across the globe due to the remote working pattern. Ransomware is malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom to restore the user’s access.
“Many companies are choosing to pay ransoms rather than risking extensive business downtime and expensive consulting fees to conduct self-remediation. But this introduces its own set of risks, including threat actors not holding up their end of the bargain. Paying ransom also makes companies an attractive target for subsequent attacks, since they have demonstrated they are willing to pay.”
In 2020, almost 61 percent of the surveyed companies around the world were affected by a ransomware attack and nearly 52 percent of them paid the ransom but of those, only two-thirds recovered their data.
In UAE, 78 percent of the companies that participated in the survey said they were affected by a ransomware attack last year. Nearly 43 percent of victims in the country also admitted paying the ransom, but only 44 percent of those were able to recover their data.