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The 3 Biggest Threats to Email Security

March 22, 2015

While spam, malware and phishing remain a threat today, email security has rapidly evolved over the past few years, with a series of new, dangerous threats emerging from the shadows. While email has always been a target for hackers, as consumers have become more aware of the dangers facing their inbox, hackers have had to adapt, changing their methods, and shifting their targets.

If you want to keep your email security in check, you need to know what you’re up against. Read on to discover the three biggest threats to your email security in 2015.

1. Snowshoe Spam

While spam is a problem that has never really been solved, in recent years it’s turned into something of an annoying non-issue. Spam filters, both of the corporate variety as well as the filters on your Gmail inbox, are relatively strong, and prevent most of us from ever seeing emails that we didn’t specifically sign up for.

One of the reasons for this is the very nature of spam. When we think of spam, we generally think of one person (or computer) sending out a massive volume of email. That description was true until recently, and it made it very easy for spam filtering software to prevent us from seeing any spam in our inbox.

Unfortunately, a new development has popped up: the emergence of “snowshoe spam.”

Snowshoe spam, unlike regular spam, is not sent from one computer, but instead thousand of users, each sending messages in low volume. While it’s easy to block spam coming from one location, when it’s coming from many, it becomes difficult for anti-spam software to keep up. Even more problematic is the fact that a lot of snowshoe spam has been tied to legitimate bulk email addresses, such as the ones that send you newsletters that you voluntarily signed up for.

While spam is usually harmless, there is always the threat that snowshoe spam might evolve into a gateway for a large, harder to detect phishing attack — or even as a method to spread malware without setting off alarms.

2. Hacktivism

Hacktivism, or hacking activism, might not seem like a problem to you. After all, why would a hacktivist threaten your email security — especially you’re not involved with the government, and you aren’t directly tied to anything political.

There are two problems with that logic. For one, hacktivists don’t exclusively target those with direct ties to any political cause. Sometimes, all that hacktivists are looking for is a high number of compromised accounts to make a statement. Second, while you might not believe you are doing something explicitly political, there’s always a chance you could be dragged into the proverbial crossfire. What newsletters have you signed up for? What services is your email attached to? A company that might have your personal information could always be targeted, putting your email security at risk.

3. Data Breaches

Sure, you’ve heard of the data breaches that hit Sony, Target, and The Home Depot, but did you know that in 2014, there were at least 783 data breaches? And these are just the ones we know about. Data breaches don’t just happen to the biggest companies — they happen to everyone. Now, consider all of the companies you’ve ever given your personal information to. Feeling uncomfortable yet?

While you might think of email security as a thing that you have complete control over, the reality is that it’s easy to become a casualty of a major data breach. This is especially true when you consider how many people use shared login info for multiple accounts, practically inviting digital thieves into their email accounts.

Consider there was an almost 28 percent increase in data breaches in 2014, it’s likely that 2015 will be an even bigger year for data breaches. That means that you need to lock down your account in every way you can.

Protection for Tomorrow’s Threats

Want to protect your email security? If you’re interested in keeping hackers out of your inbox, your best bet is to enable email encryption using a service like Virtru. Try it today, and see the difference in security yourself!

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