As hackers’ methods become more sophisticated, the scale of email security breaches and the frequency at which they occur grow greater with each passing year. In 2019 alone, an estimated 2 billion unique email addresses, accompanied by over 21 million unique passwords, were exposed within a single data breach. After the initial panic, it became clear that breach was caused, in part, by poor data security practices: the target, email marketing service, was found to have stored customer data on unsecured public-facing databases.

This escalation has, understandably, put many people on edge. Sites such as Have I Been Pwned, founded by web security expert Troy Hunt, have sprung up in response to the public’s paranoia, and private individuals have started to look into secure email providers to keep their communications safe. But it isn’t enough for private individuals to keep a watchful eye over their emails. Businesses need to do everything within their power to safeguard their customers’ data if they want to avoid becoming the unwitting subject of the next great email security breach.

Evaluating Different Types of Threats

There are five primary types of email security breaches of which businesses should be aware:

  • Spam: Though it might seem harmless — more of an annoyance than an actual threat — when left in the wrong hands, spam poses a serious risk to data security. Just ask any one of the people affected by a 2017 breach; caused by a misconfigured spambot that left a spammer’s servers open to attack, it resulted in the leak of over 700 million email addresses. Although the consequences of that particular breach were fortunately minimal due to a number of fake and repeated email addresses contained in the data set, spam-related attacks have the potential to be far more (Read more...)