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Email Security Threat Report 2020


Email and collaboration platforms are the connective tissue of most businesses and organizations, where information is shared, plans are hatched, and alliances formed. Yet as a human-driven medium, email often represents the ‘weakest link’ in an organization’s security strategy. Indeed, 94{f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} of cyber-threats originate in the email environment.

While traditional gateway tools seek to filter out malicious emails on entry, their reliance on lists of ‘known-bad’ IPs, domains, and file hashes to determine an email’s threat level is extremely limiting. A rule-based approach can often identify known spam and other low-hanging fruit, but it fails to keep pace with attacker innovations.

Spear phishing, impersonation attacks, and account takeovers, in particular, remain fruitful ways that cyber-criminals can infiltrate an organization. Increasingly targeted email attacks of this kind, which overcome the limitations of traditional defenses, are a significant challenge for security teams today.

As Peter Firstbrook, VP Analyst at Gartner, puts it: “Common controls, such as standard, reputation-based, anti-spam, and signature-based antivirus, are fine for widespread attacks and scam campaigns, but they’re not good enough for protection against more targeted, sophisticated, and advanced attacks. More than ever, modern email security requires innovation and a shift in mindset to combat the evolving threat landscape.”


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