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Email-based attacks causing millions of dollars in losses to Australian businesses

A new survey from security company Barracuda has revealed the costs of email-based attacks to businesses in Australia and around the world.

user icon David Hollingworth
Fri, 10 Feb 2023
Email-based attacks causing millions of dollars in losses to Australian businesses
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The survey — based on the calendar year 2022 and informed by 1,350 participants from Australia, Europe, the US, and India — found that three-quarters of all organisations polled were impacted by a successful email attack, and the costs are alarming.

Australian businesses were not far off that global figure, with 74 per cent of 150 organisations polled falling victim to email attacks at least once.

The dollar cost alone is impressive. A single email attack can cost an Australian business on average $1.4 million, a figure that a quarter of businesses say is a sharp increase from the year before. Globally, however, eight in 10 businesses reported that the cost of an attack had risen since 2021.

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But the costs go far beyond the financial.

Over 40 per cent of Australian businesses reported disruptions to their day-to-day operations and a drop in productivity from employees, while 37 per cent felt the breaches caused damage to brands and reputations.

The effects of email attacks also varied between industries. Companies in the financial sector were more affected by the loss of data and money, for instance, while those in healthcare cited the high cost of recovering from an attack.

Alarmingly, around a third of companies in Australia feel they are not prepared to handle malware or data loss, and many companies feel that the rise in working from home during and since the pandemic has increased the risks associated with email attacks. Companies with more than half their workforce working remotely were found to be more likely to be attacked.

“Email is a trusted and ubiquitous communications channel, and that makes it an attractive target for cyber criminals. We expect email-based attacks to become increasingly sophisticated, leveraging AI and advanced social engineering in their attempts to get the data or access they want and evade security measures,” said Don MacLennan, senior vice-president at Barracuda.

“Growing awareness and understanding of email risks and the robust protection needed to stay safe will be key in keeping organisations and their employees protected in 2023 and beyond.”

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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