Spam Email Accounts for Large Proportion of Data Breaches

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 03-05-2012 Print Email
A survey by GFI Software of U.S. organizations found that almost half of respondents had sustained data breaches due to spam emails, while most said their anti-spam solutions were marginally effective.

Email spam continues to be a major problem for many U.S. businesses, with almost half of those responding to a recent survey saying that they've experienced data breaches due to employees clicking on malicious links. In addition, 70 percent said that their anti-spam solutions are marginally effective at best, according to the survey, released March 1 by security software company GFI Software.

In the survey, 44 percent of respondents said their organizations had sustained a data breach due to spam email, and another 6 percent were unsure if they'd been breached. Fifty-two percent said the volume of spam flowing into their organizations had grown over the past year, while another 32 percent said it remained the same. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they receive too much spam.

Spam has been a problem for years, as attackers have used it as a way of breaching corporate networks. However, some researchers have found that the amount of spam has decreased over the past few years, with some cyber-criminals opting instead for more targeted attacks on specific corporate networks.

The GFI study, conducted by Opinion Matters, showed concern among businesses regarding spam is still high. Opinion Matters surveyed 202 IT decision makers at U.S. companies that had five to 1,000 employees.

According to the survey, the key concern among companies regarding spam was that it could contain malicious links or files that, if opened, could compromise the corporate network. Twenty-nine percent of respondents noted that as their top concern, even as 90 percent of them said that on a regular basis, they educate employees about the risks of open spam emails.

The second-largest concern for companies was the threat of phishing attacks posed by spam, according to the GFI survey.

The study also found high levels of dissatisfaction with their anti-spam solutions. According to the results, 48 percent of the respondents said their companies rely on the anti-spam capabilities of their antivirus solution to help block spam. Another 20 percent use a software solution, while 14 percent use a cloud-based solution to filter email. Eleven percent use an anti-spam gateway appliance.

Few companies said they were satisfied with the results. Sixty percent said their solutions were marginally effective; another 10 percent said their solutions were not effective at all.



 

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