India, 29th May 2023— Barracuda Networks Inc. (Barracuda), a trusted partner and leading provider of cloud-enabled security solutions, today published its 2023 spear-phishing trends report, which shows that 53% of Indian organizations studied were victims of spear-phishing in 2022 — and on average, 24% had at least one email account compromised through account takeover.
The report presents propriety spear-phishing data and analysis, drawing on a data set that comprises 50 billion emails across 3.5 million mailboxes, including nearly 30 million spear-phishing emails. The report also features survey findings from Barracuda-commissioned research. The survey, conducted by independent researcher Vanson Bourne, questioned IT professionals from frontline to the most senior roles at 150 Indian companies with 100 to 2,500 employees, across a range of industries.
Overall, the research revealed that cybercriminals continue to barrage organizations with targeted email attacks, and many companies are struggling to keep up. While spear-phishing attacks are low-volume, they are widespread and highly successful compared to other types of email attacks.
Spear phishing is widespread: 53% of Indian organizations analyzed were victims of spear phishing in 2022, and overall, a typical organization received 5 highly personalized spear-phishing emails per day.
These attacks are highly successful: Spear-phishing attacks make up only 0.1% of all e-mail based attacks, according to Barracuda data, but they are responsible for 66% of all breaches.
Organizations are feeling the impact: 63% of Indian respondents that experienced a spear-phishing attack reported machines infected with malware or viruses; 61% reported having stolen login credentials or account takeover; and 56% reported having sensitive data stolen.
Threat detection and response remains a challenge: On average, organizations take nearly 100 hours to identify, respond to, and remediate a post-deliver email threat — India organizations take 67 hours to detect the attack and 53 hours to respond and remediate after the attack is detected.
Remote work is increasing risks: Users at companies with more than a 50% remote workforce report higher levels of suspicious emails — 12 per day on average, compared to 9 per day for those with less than a 50% remote workforce.
Having more remote workers slows detection and response: Companies with more than a 50% remote workforce also reported that it takes longer to both detect and response to email security incidents — 55 hours to detect and 63 hours to response and mitigate, compared to an average of 36 hours and 51 hours respectively for organizations with fewer remote workers.
“Even though spear phishing is low volume, with its targeted and social engineering tactics, the technique leads to a disproportionate number of successful breaches, and the impact of just one successful attack can be devastating,” said Fleming Shi, CTO, Barracuda. “To help stay ahead of these highly effective attacks, businesses must invest in account takeover protection solutions with artificial intelligence capabilities. Such tools will have far greater efficacy than rule-based detection mechanisms. Improved efficacy in detection will help stop spear-phishing with reduced response needed during an attack.”