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Email Has Been Weaponized by Hackers, Results Can Be Deadly

Nearly all of the top million most popular domains are inadequately protected from “weaponized” email impersonation by hackers, formerly known as spear phishing, according to a new study released today by San Francisco-based email authentication service provider ValiMail.

One out of every five emails today appears to come from a suspicious sender who’s not authorized to use the sending domain, according to ValiMail’s 2017 Email Fraud Landscape Report. The study also found that only 0.5 percent of the top million domains use adequate authentication strategies to protect against email impersonation, even though most systems support stronger defenses.

Better email authentication defenses could help the typical company save $8.1 million each year in costs related to cybercrime, ValiMail reported.

ValiMail’s findings come on the heels of a report released last week from Google and the University of California-Berkeley that identified phishing as the greatest threat to people’s online identities.

‘Vast Majority’ of Businesses are Vulnerable

DMARC (domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance) is an email security system designed to protect against malicious actors sending unauthorized emails that appear to come from legitimate domains. The DMARC system enables administrators to set policies that validate the “From:” content in email headers comes from legitimate senders at those domains.

“Email has been weaponized by hackers as the leading way to infiltrate networks, and the vast majority of businesses are leaving themselves vulnerable by either incorrectly configuring their authentication systems or forgoing protection entirely,” ValiMail co-founder and CEO Alexander García-Tobar said in a statement. “Businesses are asking their employees to complete an impossible task: identifying who is real and who is an impersonator, by closely examining every message in their inboxes. The only sustainable solution is for companies to take control of their email security at the technology level and stop placing the onus on employees to…

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