4 out of 10 Emails are Unwanted as nearly 40% of all Attacks Start with Phishing



Rise in Unwanted EmailsNew data focused on emails sent through Microsoft 365 highlights the methods used to ensure a successful attack beginning with a malicious email.

Microsoft 365 is such a massive target of phishing attacks, there are tons of articles on this site alone about various ways threat actors have creatively focused their efforts to steal credentials and gain access to Microsoft 365 accounts.

According to Hornet Security’s Cyber Security Report 2023 – which focuses specifically on the Microsoft 365 threat landscape – there’s a lot to learn about phishing attacks from the analysis of more than 25 billion emails. First off, 40.5% of them are unwanted, with 5% of those emails being marked as malicious – netting around 2% of all email as being malicious.

According to the report, the most frequently used filetypes in phishing-based attacks on Microsoft 365 are:

  • 28% - Archive files (e.g., ZIP)
  • 21% - HTML
  • 13% - Word documents
  • 12% - PDFs
  • 10% - Excel documents

This year's report also shows continued success for threat actors with phishing activities. Phishing remains the number one attack technique on the list at 39.6%, with Malicious URLs in 3rd place at 12.5%. Second place on the list is the “other” attack type classification which is a combination of several less frequently used attacks.

A repeated sentiment throughout this report is the need to educate users – through continual Security Awareness Training – on the presence of malicious emails, the attachments used, and the social engineering scams involved to trick the recipient into opening that attachment or clicking that link.

Microsoft 365 will likely continue to be a dominant target for attackers seeking to harvest credentials, making it necessary that all users of this platform be educated to remain vigilant when interacting with every email – unwanted or not.


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