23% of Data Breaches in Q2 2018 Due to Email Account Compromises

In the last year, the quantity of email data breach reports progressively went up. The Beazley Breach Insights Report July edition said that 23% of all data breaches documented by BBR (Beazley Breach Response) in the Q2 of 2018 was because of email compromises.

The submitted number of incidents of email compromises in the 2nd quarter of 2018 was 184, which is more than the 173 in the 1st quarter of 2018 and the 120 in the 4th quarter of 2017. In the 1st quarter of 2017, there were just 45 email breaches and from that time the quantity of email compromise breaches went up.

The email account compromises in Q2 of 2018 were extensively distributed in various industries, however the healthcare sector obtained the highest number. When healthcare email accounts are accessed, sensitive information are usually jeopardized which could bring about medical identity theft, identity theft and other means of cheating. The protected health information (PHI) of numerous patients are usually kept in email accounts. In the most recent phishing attack which concerned Boys Town National Research Hospital, the attackers accessed the PHI of about 105,000 patients.

When online criminals can get access to an email account, besides viewing the information stored in it, they could additionally use the email account to carry out even more attacks. A hacker can utilize the email account to deliver internal email to many other company employees, which the email security will most likely not tag as malicious.

The hacker writes internal emails after collecting details from the compromised email account. The internal email isn’t just a regular phishing message. The hacker studies the target, analyses the account holder’s writing style and creates messages according to the account holder’s chat with the target email recipient. Therefore, the hacker can dispatch very persuasive phishing emails.

If a hacker is able to access one account, it is hard to avoid the possibility of compromising more email accounts. It is actually easier to stop the initial attack. Using spam filters, most malicious emails are essentially very easy to prevent and will never land in the mail. The employees additionally have to undergo security awareness training to be prepared to recognize phishing emails and other forms of cyber attack.

As per Beazley, Office 365 users are more susceptible to email account compromise. Cyber criminals usually take advantage of Microsoft’s PowerShell to sign in to email accounts. When making use of administrative privileges to login to an email account, the hacker can very easily lookup all the mail in the company. Beazley also advises not to utilize third-party apps when logging in to Office 365 since it minimizes the ability of utilizing PowerShell for reconnaissance. BBR Services remarks that a lot of companies appear to know that only half of their mail boxes are affected during an attack. However the reality is the phishing attack affected hundreds of emails.

Managing a breach is pricey since it involves checking all the emails in every compromised account to find out if it contained PHI or not. For a small email breach incident, the healthcare company may well spend $100,000. For a large email breach incident, the expense could go higher than $2 million. The most costly breaches to take care of are business email compromise attacks.

39% of data breaches throughout all markets of industry are attributed to hacks and malware attacks. 22% of data breaches are due to accidental disclosures. In Q2 of 2018, hacks and malware attacks had been 3% lower than in Q1 of 2018 since ransomware attacks dropped.

The Beazley report noted that 38% of all healthcare data breaches had been caused by accidental disclosures in Q2 of 2018. That number means there was a 29% increase from the 1st quarter of 2018. Other reasons for healthcare data breaches are the following: 26% hacking and malware attacks; 14% insider incidents; 7% loss of physical PHI; 6% loss or theft of portable devices; and 4% social engineering attacks.

About Christine Garcia 1299 Articles
Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA