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Companies in the Benelux have suffered an average of 1.2 million euros in damages from email attacks in the past 12 months. This is the finding of a recent global study by Barracuda Networks on the impact of email attacks.

This is according to the global annual 2023 Email Security Trends Report, with respondents from the U.S., EMEA and APAC regions. Email is seen as a trusted communication channel used by everyone. As such, it still represents an attractive target for cybercriminals.

An e-mail attack is often the starting point for other, more sophisticated attacks. Examples include spreading ransomware, stealing data, installing spyware, cryptomining, or other malware.

Benelux companies often affected

According to the researchers, the Benelux region is among the regions where companies experience the most damage and impact from email attacks. Of the companies surveyed from our region, 85 percent said they had been hit by at least one successful email attack in the past 12 months. 87 percent of respondents who experienced a ransomware attack indicated that email was the initial attack vector.

Not only are Benelux companies frequently affected by an email attack, but the damage they suffer as a result is also significant. Nearly one-third of Benelux companies report a significant increase in damage from email attacks. For these companies, the average financial damage of an e-mail attack amounts to 1.2 million euros.

Consequences of e-mail attacks

The consequences of an e-mail attack for Benelux companies are also considerable. Almost half indicate that they have suffered reputational damage as a result of such an attack. About the same percentage applies to direct financial damage and loss of productivity.

Globally, the main consequences of e-mail attacks are first and foremost downtime and disruption of daily operations. Second and third are the loss of sensitive, confidential and important data and, finally, brand reputation damage. These consequences do vary by business sector, Barracuda Networks researchers point out.

Many companies still unprepared

One reason why Benelux companies in particular suffer so much from e-mail attacks may be that they are poorly prepared. In the survey, the security specialist notes that only 14 percent of companies say they have invested more in their email security in the past year. This is despite the fact that a third of Benelux companies actually indicate that their systems and data are more secure than before. Still, 12 percent say they actually feel less secure. This is the second highest percentage worldwide.

Major risks that make Benelux companies feel unprepared are viruses and/or malware, lateral phishing and internal threats, spam, hijacking of e-mail conversations and attacks by impersonating vendors, Barracuda Networks indicates in the survey.

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