Report: Organizations spend 3,850 hours annually cleaning up email-based cyberattacks

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Security managers are most concerned about the time it takes to respond to and remediate email threats. According to a new report from Cyren and Osterman Research, organizations spend an average of 3,850 hours a year clearing compromises caused by email attacks. This figure does not include time spent investigating suspicious messages and removing confirmed threats from mailboxes to avoid additional compromise.

The research confirms that, despite investments in secure email gateways and user security awareness training, attackers continue to use social engineering emails to breach organizational defenses. The resulting attack remediation requires 175 hours to resolve each breach, and the most common type of breach is compromised Office 365 credentials (account takeover).

However, this effort does not include the time spent investigating suspicious message alerts submitted by users and trying to remove confirmed threats from mailboxes before a distracted user falls for the scam. The inability to prevent email scams, corporate email intrusion and ransomware, and ensure the time and effort to research and respond to threats is a major concern for IT and cybersecurity leaders.

This bar chart shows the average annual number of email breaches.  89% of respondents said they had an email breach in the past 12 months, while 11% chose not to disclose.This chart shows the average annual number of email breaches.

Most surprisingly, the number of email breaches has increased compared to the previous Osterman Research survey, despite a higher number of cybersecurity workers per 1,000 email users (17 in 2022 compared to 2 in 2019).

The report includes responses related to how organizations defend and respond to threats and compromises caused by malicious emails delivered to Microsoft 365 users. Osterman Research surveyed 226 organizations in February 2022 using a combination of online and telephone surveys. The respondents represent organizations in various sectors in the United States and the United Kingdom with an average of 3,862 employees.

Read the full report from Cyren and Osterman Research.

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