Security

Spear Phishing Attacks Cost Companies Millions

Phishing attacks targeted at selected employees are costing companies millions. IT and financial officers in particular are frequently victimized.

29 Feb. 2016 Jens Stark
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1.6 million dollars in damages are caused on average by attacks on larger companies with more than 1000 employees. (Photo: Cloudmark)

Cyber-Security

Targeted phishing attacks, known as spear phishing, can cost a hefty sum. This was the findings of a study by high-tech market researcher Vanson Bourne, carried out on behalf of Cloudmark, an email security specialist.

The study polled 300 IT officers at larger companies (1000+ employees) in the USA and Great Britain. 84 percent of the respondents indicated that their companies have been the already been the target of a spear phishing attack.

This type of targeted attack on companies will be a featured topic at this March's CeBIT fair in Hannover, Germany. Two forums in the Security area in Hall 6 have been set up for experts to provide hints and tips on how companies and individual employees can be protect themselves.

To return to the study: 80 percent of the companies that have fallen victim to cyber-criminals indicated that their company suffered financial damages as a result. The worst losses came in employee productivity (41 percent), followed by money or finances (32 percent), company prestige (29 percent) or brand (27 percent), customers (25 percent) and intellectual property (also 25 percent). 15 percent of the companies even experienced a stock price dip following the attack. In all, spear phishing attacks on larger companies cost 1.6 million US dollars on average.

IT employees (44 percent) and employees in the Finance department (43 percent) were the prime targets for spear phishers. In 27 percent of the cases it was the CEO that was conned by cyber-criminals.

"With the mass of information available online nowadays about individual employees and their companies, it's very easy for cyber-criminals to create highly targeted emails that they can use to vacuum up important data and financial information. Spear Phishing has become one of the biggest threats for companies," says George Riedel, CEO at Cloudmark.

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(Photo: wk1003mike / Shutterstock.com)

IT employees (44 percent) and employees in the Finance department (43 percent) were the prime targets for spear phishers. In 27 percent of the cases it was the CEO that was conned by cyber-criminals.

"With the mass of information available online nowadays about individual employees and their companies, it's very easy for cyber-criminals to create highly targeted emails that they can use to vacuum up important data and financial information. Spear Phishing has become one of the biggest threats for companies," says George Riedel, CEO at Cloudmark.

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