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Phishing attacks pose a serious threat to brand's reputation

New research from Return Path has revealed the consequences that exist for marketers who do not take action to prevent email fraud.

While email may be the chosen way of communicating for a majority of businesses, it is just as popular with cybercriminals as it is with working professionals. In Return Path's report “Phishing: the Cost of Doing Nothing for Marketers,” the company shed light on the fact that email fraud does more than damage a brand's reputation and inevitably causes more damage than is initially noticeable.

The report points out the real direct costs of phishing and notes that large organisations spend $3.7 million annually in order to recover from phishing attacks. This includes lost productivity, customer service and regulator fines.

After a brand has been hit by a phishing attack, consumers who subscribe to its emails are less likely to place their trust in the company. Return Path found that read rates dropped by up to 18 percentage points on Gmail and 11 percentage points on Yahoo's mail service.

Phishing also impedes deliverability and email providers are more likely to flag legitimate emails as spam after an attack has occurred. The report showed that on average inbox placement rates dropped 10 percentage points at Gmail and 7 at Yahoo.

Return Path's VP of Marketing and Email Fraud Prevention, Estelle Derouet said: “The immediate cost of phishing is staggering, but the bigger impact comes from loss of trust. If your brand reputation is damaged by email fraud, customers won't open your emails and mailbox providers may not deliver your messages to the inbox. When that happens, you've lost a revenue opportunity – both now and in the future.”

Marketers are aware of the threat that email fraud poses but few brands are willing to do what is necessary to protect themselves and fight back against these attack that could be quite troubling for their businesses. Return Path's research showed that 81 per cent of marketers would be concerned or even very concerned if a malicious email was sent out by their brand. However, only 32 per cent of marketers said that securing their email channels from potential phishing attacks was a top priority in 2016.

Derouet pointed out that we all need to be vigilant to help prevent email fraud, saying: “Email security is everyone's responsibility. As guardians of the brand and owners of the email chain, it's time for marketers to join the fight against email fraud – and for CMOs to prioritise customer security.”

Image Credit: wk1003mike / Shutterstock

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.