Google Shines Light On Corporate Gmail Threats

New data highlights the diversity of security threats putting corporate Gmail inboxes at risk.

Kelly Sheridan, Former Senior Editor, Dark Reading

February 22, 2017

2 Min Read

New research from Google shows how different types of email attacks are more likely to land in corporate inboxes than personal ones.

Each minute, Google prevents more than 10 million unsafe emails from reaching users who could fall victim to phishing attacks or malicious attachments, report Ali Zand and Vijay Eranti of Anti-Abuse Research and Gmail Abuse at Google.

At last week's RSA Conference, Google shared data on the diversity of security threats to corporate Gmail accounts.

Spam is a common problem, for example, but malware and phishing attacks are more likely to target enterprise users. Attackers send 4.3x more malware, 6.2x more phishing emails, and 0.4x as much spam to corporate inboxes than to personal email accounts.

Cybercriminals pick their victims based on several variables: the size and type of the business, industry, and geographical location. In a landscape where no two corporate entities face the same threats, security managers must adjust their strategies to align with specific attacks.

Looking at business inboxes as a baseline, Google found attackers are 2.3x more likely to target nonprofits with malware, followed by educational institutions (2.1x), and government-related industries (1.3x). Businesses are more likely to be targeted with phishing and spam attacks.

Research also shows entertainment, IT, and housing-related companies are most frequently targeted by spam as of Q1 2017. Financial, arts, and IT-related businesses are most targeted by phishing, and targeted financial phishing has increased. Ransomware is the largest malware threat.

The company also pulled interesting data on how spam varies across geographies. India and Japan have the most spammed inboxes as of Q1 2017. The world's largest spammers -- USA, Germany, and France -- target other countries.

Google takes these types of findings and uses them to improve security across its products and services. It employs deep learning to stay ahead of spammers and prevent email abuse, and reports less than 0.1% of email in the average Gmail inbox is spam.

Check out more details on the Google blog.

About the Author(s)

Kelly Sheridan

Former Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Kelly Sheridan was formerly a Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focused on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial services. Sheridan earned her BA in English at Villanova University. You can follow her on Twitter @kellymsheridan.

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