Cyber-attacks cost companies millions of euros each year. A high price to pay which, according to a study conducted by Google’s Research Team, is not only due to the growing sophistication of the strategies and tools used by cyber-crooks, but also to the huge number of threats in circulation.

Researchers examined over 1 billion email exchanges via Gmail to analyze the diversity and prevalence of the attacks perpetrated via email in corporate environments.

The report concludes that while spam campaigns continue to be the most common type of attack on both personal and corporate accounts, malware and phishing campaigns are primarily aimed at companies and their employees.

After comparing the figures for corporate and consumer inboxes, researchers found that companies are four times more likely to receive malware than home users. And, regarding malware types, ransomware continues to be the attackers’ weapon of choice. Additionally, corporate email addresses are approximately six times more likely to receive phishing emails than personal accounts.

This is due to the fact that corporations tend to store more valuable information, which can be much more easily monetized on the Dark Web.

Most affected countries and industries

In addition to this global research, Google’s experts also looked at the industries and types of organizations most affected by cyber-attacks. “Attackers appear to choose targets based on multiple dimensions, such as the size and the type of the organization, its country of operation, and the organization’s sector of activity,” conclude Google’s researchers.

In this context, the data obtained reveals that while cyber-crooks aim malware attacks at nonprofits and educational organizations primarily, businesses are the most common target of phishing and spam attacks.  More precisely, spam campaigns mostly target companies in the entertainment and IT sectors. These, together with real-estate companies, were the organizations most hit by cyber-attacks in the first months of 2017.

According to the report, “The largest spammers in the world target other countries.” In this respect, the list of most affected countries is topped by the United States, Germany and France, with Spain in seventh place.

Furthermore, financial organizations such as banks, consulting firms or insurance companies are the preferred target of phishing campaigns. Far from decreasing in number, experts believe that cyber-attacks will continue to grow in the future. That’s why it is advisable to implement measures such as two-step authentication and cyber-security solutions that combine context intelligence and defense operations to anticipate and stop malicious behaviors and data leaks.