73% of organizations were victims of successful phishing attacks in the last year

IT leaders say that the remote and hybrid future of work will make it harder to prevent phishing incidents

Thought leadership

London, UK – August 3, 2021 – The Egress 2021 Insider Data Breach Survey has revealed that almost three-quarters (73%) of organizations have suffered data breaches caused by phishing attacks in the last year. Remote work has also increased the risk of a data breach, with over half (53%) of IT leaders reporting an increase in incidents caused by phishing. In addition, the research has revealed concerns over future hybrid working, with 50% of IT leaders saying it will make it harder to prevent breaches caused by malicious email attacks.

The survey, which was independently conducted by Arlington Research on behalf of Egress, polled 500 IT leaders and 3,000 employees across the US and UK in numerous vertical markets including financial services, healthcare and legal. The results also highlight the human cost of phishing as it found that in almost one quarter (23%) of organizations, employees who were hacked via a phishing email left the organizations - either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Key insights include:

  • 73% of organizations have experienced a serious data breach caused by phishing in the last year
  • Over half (53%) of IT leaders say that remote working during the pandemic increased data breaches caused by phishing
  • Half (50%) of IT leaders think that full-time remote or hybrid working will make it more difficult to prevent data breaches caused by phishing in the future
  • In 23% of organizations, employees who were hacked via a phishing email were fired or left voluntarily

A pandemic of phishing

The past year has proven to be extremely challenging for cybersecurity leaders as more malicious activity has taken place online.  The rise in activity is mainly due to an increase of online users and recent successful attempts by small and large criminal organizations. In addition to the sheer volume of phishing attacks that organizations withstood during the pandemic, remote work made it more difficult to stop data breaches caused by malicious emails. Over half (53%) of IT leaders say that remote working drove an increase in data breaches caused by phishing in the last year, and half (50%) also believe that remote/hybrid working will make it harder to prevent data breaches caused by phishing in the future.

Egress VP of Threat Intelligence Jack Chapman comments: “Organizations are being bombarded by sophisticated phishing attacks. Hackers are crafting highly targeted campaigns that use clever social engineering tricks to gain access to organizations’ most sensitive data, as well as leapfrog into their supply chain. Phishing is also the most common entry point for ransomware, with potentially devastating consequences.

“Remote working has also made employees even more vulnerable. With many organizations planning for a remote or hybrid future, phishing is a risk that must remain central to any security team’s plans for securing their workforce.”

Methodology

The Insider Breach Report 2021 was independently conducted by Arlington Research on behalf of Egress, surveyed 500 IT leaders and 3,000 employees in the US and UK across vertical sectors including financial services, healthcare and legal.

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