According to a new email security risk assessment report from email and data security provider Mimecast, the so-called impersonation attacks consist of emails that attempt to impersonate a trusted party such as a C-level executive, employee or business partner.
And, Mimecast found that the number of impersonation attacks detected in the latest quarter — compared to the data initially reported in February — rose more than 400% quarter over quarter.
And this simple method of attack, says Mimecast, is being exploited at an alarming rate as it can be used to dupe recipients into initiating wire transfers and sending back other sensitive data leading to significant financial loss – as evidenced by widely publicised recent attacks.
Mimecast says both known and unknown cyber attacks, as well as spam, are continuing to get through incumbent email security systems.
The latest email security risk assessment report (ESRA) reflects findings from inspecting the inbound email of more than 44,000 users received over a cumulative 287 days by participating organisations.
Mimecast says, in aggregate to date more than 40 million emails have been inspected, all of which had already passed through the incumbent email security vendor or cloud email service in use by each organisation.
The ESRA test uncovered almost nine million pieces of spam, 8318 dangerous file types, 1669 known, and 487 unknown malware attachments and 8605 impersonation attacks.
Mimecast says the data reinforces the concerning reality that the industry must work towards a higher standard of email security, as 90% of attacks start with email.
In general, organisations everywhere are struggling with prolific ransomware attacks, like Locky, Mimecast notes.
“Cyber criminals are constantly adapting their attack methods. For instance, this latest ESRA analysis reflects how impersonation attacks are getting through existing email security defences at an alarming rate,” says Ed Jennings, chief operating officer at Mimecast.
“If a CISO isn’t reviewing its current email security solution on a 12-18 month basis, they may be surprised at what threats are now getting into employees’ inboxes.
“At the same time, email security providers need to ensure they’re doing their due diligence to protect customers from new attacks, whether they be advanced or simple. The Mimecast ESRA results show a clear need for the security industry to come together in the fight against email-borne threats.”