A report from Verizon has indicated that cyber criminals prefer to use email as the main way they scam unsuspecting victims, with phishing campaigns proving most popular for the thieves.
More than 100,000 security incidents in 2015 (which affected thousands of companies), were analysed as part of the report, with 90 per cent of these attacks being done to try and steal money.
Verizon found that phishing emails – which are when emails pretend to be from official, reputable companies, in order to convince victims into providing personal information – are continuing to be effective for cyber criminals, and are preferred to more complicated forms of cyber hacking, such as gaining remote access to smartphones and other devices.
Worryingly, the report indicated more and more phishing emails are being opened by those in organisations which were targeted by the cyber criminals. In 2014, 23 per cent of phishing emails were opened, while in 2015 it rose to 30 per cent.
Also, for those phishing emails which were opened up, malware was launched by 13 per cent after attachments were opened.
Being able to launch malware can enable the cyber criminals to infiltrate an entire company’s network in mere minutes, showing just how important it is for people to remain vigilant with suspect emails, especially when a company’s data is potentially at risk of attack.
Marc Spitler, lead author of the report, said: “If an attack works, then it works very quickly. The phishing email typically leads to the installation of malware or the compromise of a user’s PC by some sort of malicious code that can establish control or persistence on a network.”
Another worrying statistic from the report is that for 84 per cent of companies who were questioned, it took them several weeks to realise that cyber criminals had managed to gain access to the companies’ systems.