Email is an open door for malicious actors looking to exploit businesses

There’s an alarming scale of risks businesses are up against in a time when email is proving an open door for cybercriminals and malicious actors looking to disrupt, exploit and destroy businesses, according to Wire.

relentless risk

The report is developed in collaboration with global poker champion and astrophysicist, Liv Boeree. P​oker is a game of making calculated, strategic decisions in high-stakes situations. As such, Liv is able to draw parallels between the poker table and the business world.

Within the report, she shares the odds of risk in the context of cybersecurity.​ Key findings include the odds of falling prey to cyberattack, the business cost of such an account, and the ‘best bet’ of future-proofing against an attack.

Email and people are the weakest link

In one of its central findings, the report identifies email as a company’s greatest cybersecurity vulnerability. Email offers the most significant access point for criminals by exploiting a human fallibility – the inability to spot malicious emails.

Just as with gambling, the outcomes are influenced by people and their judgement. The fact that employees are unable to discern malicious emails from safe ones, points to the inherent vulnerability of email. Per the report:

  • An employee is three times more likely to infect a colleague with a malicious email than they are to spread the flu to their partner
  • An employee’s chances of spotting a phishing email are as slim as hitting a specific number on the roulette wheel

Relentless risk

‘Odds on a Bad Bet’ goes on to underscore relentlessness of cyber attacks leading to heightened odds of a business falling victim:

  • The chances of your business avoiding a malware attack are as unlikely as pulling the Ace of Spades from a shuffled deck
  • A company has a 50/50 chance of suffering a costly DoS (denial of service) attack — effectively the same chances as a flip of a coin
  • A company is over ten times more likely to suffer a week-long downtime from a ransomware attack than you are to suffer a house fire

Given these odds, failing to future-proof is not a risk business owners should be willing to take. When cyber attacks prevail, the resulting impact is has the potential to cause huge damage to the company.

Investigating the likelihood and impact of cyberattacks on a business, the report also considers the following comparison odds:

  • Your business is five times more likely to suffer a debilitating ransomware attack than you are likely to be involved in a car accident
  • The chances of your business suffering a costly ransomware attack are the same as a hurricane hitting Florida next year
  • You’re almost as likely to go out of business due to a cyber-attack as your startup is to fail because it didn’t get the next round of funding

The odds of risk demonstrate the clear necessity of implementing future-proofing methods across business. There’s simply too much at risk not to. And the business benefits of implementing heightened cybersecurity methods are equally clear:

  • The average ROI for future-proofing your business with end-to-end encryption is twice as high as investing in the S&P 500
  • Cyber-security costs are rising so fast that waiting another year to invest in cyber-security is the same as letting ten years’ worth of inflation erode the value of your cash

Cybercrime is not going away

With the stakes so high, and the benefit of investing in preventative measures so apparent, businesses have every reason to play their hand carefully.

“When playing global poker series against the world’s best, it pays to understand the odds to reduce the risk, as any miscalculation could mean losing millions of dollars,” said Liv Boeree, global poker champion and contributor to the report.

“To see businesses fail to put the best cybersecurity measures in place, such as a secure alternative to email, when the return on investment is so clearly beneficial, is the opposite of good risk management. It’s more akin to the behaviour of a delusional problem gambler.”

Wire CEO Morten Brøgger comments: “People’s use and reliance on email is businesses’ greatest security vulnerability. More secure modes of communication and collaboration with end-to-end encryption need to become the standard as email recedes into the past.

“Especially since the average return on investment for such measures is twice that of investing in the S&P 500. Any business that fails to prepare is betting against the house, and the house always wins.”

‘Odds of a Bad Bet’ also features contributions from a number of leading cybersecurity experts, including Edward Whittingham, Founder & CEO of ​The Defence Works​.

Whittingham commented on the report’s findings: “Cybercrime continues to plague businesses but it’s a problem that isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Emails in particular, are a huge risk area for business as it’s the main vehicle through which cybercriminals are attacking business.

“Businesses can dramatically increase their defences by considering what technical measures they have in place, reducing those risk areas – including email usage – and implementing security awareness training for their employees.”

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Email is an open door for malicious actors looking to exploit businesses