One hundred billion: it’s a staggering number that is tough to put in perspective. There are approximately one hundred billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy and one hundred billion neurons in a human brain. That’s also the number of spam emails sent out – each day. While the vast majority of spam emails can be caught by automatic e-mail filters, many reach their intended target and can serve as the basis for a malicious attack that attempts to gain access to a business’s sensitive data. When these emails reach employees, they may appear to be legitimate requests to provide sensitive data or passwords to access that data. Earlier this month, both Experian and the Internal Revenue Service warned businesses of an increase in data breaches resulting from spam emails designed to look like legitimate business communications.
Email attacks that attempt to acquire sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money), for malicious reasons by masquerading as a trustworthy source are called phishing scams. Even sophisticated actors, such as Sony and top law firms, are not immune from these attacks. With such daunting numbers, what can businesses do to protect themselves, and their customer’s data, from hackers that use such a ubiquitous form of communication?