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British businesses hit hard by email fraud attacks

(Image credit: Image Credit: Evannovostro / Shutterstock)

Email fraud rose to new levels during 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018 according to new research from the cybersecurity company Proofpoint (opens in new tab).

The firm analysed email fraud attacks that targeted thousands of businesses around the globe to discover that 90 per cent of organisations were targeted during the first quarter of 2018. 

Additionally the total number of email fraud attacks (opens in new tab) rose by 55 per cent when compared to the previous quarter and 103 per cent year-over-year. While these attacks may have been sent in low volumes, organisations were targeted with greater frequency than ever before.

On average, each company received 28 malicious emails, a 36 per cent increase over the previous quarter and up by 28 per cent year-over-year. 

The US saw the largest total volume of email fraud during Q1 but businesses in the UK were targeted more frequently with an average of 36 malicious emails directed at a given company. The Netherlands on the other hand, saw the lowest number of email fraud in both terms of total volume of attacks and in the average number of times an organisation was targeted at nine. 

The Entertainment/Media industry saw the largest quarter-over-quarter increase at almost 73 percent while the real estate industry was targeted the most often in the first quarter of 2018. 

Proofpoint also revealed that the top three subject line categories used in email fraud attacks were “Request”, “Payment” and “Urgent”. This remained consistent with previous quarters and aligns with the fact that wire transfer scams (opens in new tab) are the most frequent form of email fraud. 

Additional training is needed at all organisations to prevent email fraud from continuing to gain traction amongst cybercriminals and businesses that are aware of this threat will be less likely to fall victim to such an attack. 

Image Credit: Evannovostro / 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.