Countering Ransomware and BEC: Time to Re-evaluate Your Email Security

Countering Ransomware and BEC: Time to Re-evaluate Your Email Security

14 Jun 2016 by Insight Partner Blog

Right now two of the biggest threats that organisations are facing are Ransomware and Business Email Compromise (BEC).

Ransomware has been in the news a lot. And it’s understandable why: when cybercrime activity impacts hospitals and their ability to give care, that’s an example of cybercrime having real-world consequences.

But as outlined in Trend Micro's landing page on BEC, it would be a mistake for organisations to ignore that threat. BEC may not have as visibly catastrophic an impact as ransomware, but as our numbers show, it’s a real, serious problem that organisations are facing. In fact, overall BEC can arguably be more serious, since it’s accounted for US$2.3 billion in losses since 2013.

In a universe of limited time and resources, it can be easy to look at the twin threats of Ransomware and BEC and see a dilemma as you try to figure out how to prioritise meeting those threats. Should you concentrate your efforts in protecting against Ransomware or against BEC?

If you take a step back and change your focus, though, you’ll see that you can take effective and efficient action that will help meet both threats at once. If you focus on the attack vector rather than the actual attack itself, you’ll see that both Ransomware and BEC share a common vector: email. If you focus your attention on strengthening your email security, you can help mitigate both threats at once.

The email component of BEC is obvious by the name of the threat. BEC operates nearly exclusively through email. Putting in good layered email protection can help mitigate this threat clearly and easily.

Ransomware is a more difficult challenge. It’s a multi-vector attack that can come through many channels. Email is one of the vectors, but not the only one. But the email vector is a significant component in Ransomware attacks. Even if there isn’t a silver bullet to “fix” the problem all at once, we shouldn’t ignore what solutions there are that are effective. And greater email security has a clear impact on protecting against Ransomware.

In the list of threats and countermeasures, email security has been on the backburner for a while. It’s there, people know it’s important, but when’s the last time you or your colleagues made it a real focus? In general, we tend to think of email threats as part of the last decade’s problems. But threats have a way of coming back and requiring our attention once again. Macro-based attacks were gone for many years, and now they’re back. Ransomware even was dormant for a while and now is back with a vengeance.

The twin threats of Ransomware and BEC show us that it’s time for us to collectively turn our attention back to our email security and step up our posture to meet these newest threats. Fortunately, while many have been focused on other things, our threat researchers and development teams have kept abreast of the latest threats and have beefed up our email security to more effectively counter Ransomware and BEC.

If you haven’t looked at your email security program in a while, now is the time to do so. And if you’ve been lucky enough to avoid Ransomware and/or BEC, all the more reason to do it now, so you can avoid dealing with the impact of those threats.

One thing is certain, email as a threat vector may not be new, but the scope of the impact of successful attacks through email today is unprecedented. And so it’s time to revisit and revise your email protection regime to counter today’s new email threats.


Countering Ransomware and BEC: Time to Re-evaluate Your Email Security first appeared on the Trend Micro Blog.