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Survey: Businesses report 58% rise in email cyber attacks

BY Joe Cooper

10/11/2018
HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
U.S. businesses are experiencing a significant increase in email cyber schemes this year, according to a new survey.

The survey by Zogby Analytics, commissioned by specialty insurer Hartford Steam Boiler and Insurance Co. (HSB), says 58 percent of more than 400 business executives reported an increase in suspicious emails in the last year.

About 37 percent of organizations say they received emails from an address claiming to be a senior manager or vendor seeking payments.

Meantime, 47 percent of employees received those emails and responded by transferring company funds. About 37 percent of those losses range between $50,000 to $100,000 and 11 percent were less than $10,000. The majority of businesses recovered at least a portion of the funds, the survey said.

Between Oct. 2013 and May 2018, the FBI estimates that cyber criminals stole $12.5 billion, including $2.9 billion in the U.S., through business email schemes.

Employees are also targeted in sharing their W2 forms, social security numbers or other personal information, the survey says.

The scams are often undetected by employees as cyber thieves gain access to business email accounts and assume the false identify of company managers and executives, it said.

Timothy Zeilman, HSB's vice president for HSB, said most cyber attacks begin with an email.

"Even companies that have information security training and fairly savvy employees fall victim to these deceptions," Zeilman said.

The survey polled 403 business executives and more than 500 employees across the nation. The margin for error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.