DEV Community

Araz Guidanian
Araz Guidanian

Posted on

Top 11 Email Security Risks in 2021

Today's email security threats are multiplying at an unprecedented rate. Many organizations are also vulnerable to spear-phishing, whale phishing, ransomware, and other malware attacks. As a result, large and small businesses must devise strategies to protect against emerging email security threats. More than 91% of cyber attacks are now launched via email, and email remains the weakest point in the security chain.
Furthermore, a security breach may severely damage the credibility of either the customer or the company. Defending against cybercriminals, however, necessitates a multi-layered email protection method. One reason for this is that email is not a secure means of communication by default. It moves from one server to another over the internet.
Let’s find out top email security risks. We have compiled a list of the top 11 email security threats for 2021.

Email security risks of 2021

Due to the rising demand for online communication, email remains a top security issue or even a weakness in 2021. When it comes to email protection, traditional measures such as the most up-to-date antivirus software will never be able to prevent cyber-attacks, especially advanced social engineering attacks. What are the top email security risks?

Spoofing and Phishing

In an email spoofing case, a cybercriminal sends an email to a user pretending to be someone the user knows. Email spoofing is simple to do and difficult to track back to the original sender.
Phishing is another risky tactic used by cybercriminals to obtain personal information such as a bank account or social security numbers by duping users.
Graphics and logos are often used by cybercriminals to appear more legitimate and actual. They also offer a link that appears to be genuine. Nonetheless, it redirects users to a malicious website. Since spoofing and phishing are two of the most popular methods used by cybercriminals, users should be aware of anti-phishing solutions.
You should use an SPF record to secure your email. Domain owners may publish a list of IP addresses or subnets that are allowed to send an email on their behalf using Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records. The aim is to eradicate spam and fraud by making it much harder for spammers to conceal their identities. Use the SPF record check to make sure everything is in order.

How to protect yourself from phishing?

First, keep an eye out for strange emails and instant messages. They may begin by using odd words, such as “Dear Customer” instead of your name, or they may use poor grammar or a generic signature.
Even though something appears to be legitimate, be careful when clicking links or providing sensitive information. Contact the source directly. Install anti-phishing toolbars on internet browsers. These toolbars notify you when you visit a website that contains phishing information.

Email Security Vulnerabilities

It is important to identify vulnerabilities in email services caused by provider misconfigurations. When attackers take advantage of the vulnerabilities discovered in email services, they can infiltrate the target system, expose information, and render systems inaccessible.

Domain Squatting

The act of registering, selling, or using a domain name with the intent of profiting from someone else's trademark is known as domain squatting. As a result, domain squatting and targeted spear phishing attacks will affect both businesses and their customers.

Client-Side Attacks

The number of attack vectors available to internet users is growing every day. A single link containing malicious content may be enough to infect a device. The protection of the e-mail service components must be improved, and necessary anti-phishing solutions, such as employee training or email threat simulating, must be implemented to combat threats.

Malicious Files

When malicious content in an email attachment reaches the user, it can take over the entire computer system and network. These files must be analyzed with signature-based antivirus software and behavior analysis services for an effective anti-phishing solution.


If someone becomes infected, a ransom must be paid for all encrypted data. In this regard, it is important to tighten the e-mail service and wait for analysis services to detect and prevent ransomware-specific behavior.

Make sure that all of your computer software and hardware are up to date. Popular security flaws include outdated applications, drivers, and other plugins.

Enable click-to-play plugins to prevent Flash or Java from launching unless you click a link. Finally, removing old applications, also known as Legacy Apps, lowers the risk. If your device runs Windows 10, however you use applications built for Windows 7, these are known as Legacy Apps and can pose a security risk.

Errors in configuration

This is an all-too-common security problem. A badly designed email service can result in a serious crisis, allowing email to be sent without authentication. Cybercriminals, for example, can send a random email to your employees if they connect to your email service without authentication. A cybercriminal posing as a CEO is more likely to succeed.

Database Exposure

A security breach exposes database information to hacking or theft, which is known as database exposure. Databases can be exposed in a number of ways. To steal login credentials, some hackers use social engineering techniques, while others use malware. Since most businesses use servers to store customer data, database exposure is expected to be a major concern in 2021. Customer contact details, financial documents, and identification records such as Social Security numbers are all found in most company databases.

Browser Exploit Kit

Identity theft, data leakage, and access issues are all caused by emails that contain Internet browser vulnerabilities. An abused piece of code can often be found in a link. The e-mail service, as well as the security components, must have protective measures in this situation.

Business Email Compromise (BEC) and Spear-Phishing Attacks

Another important point is that a cyber attacker who bypasses all security protocols attacks a device by exploiting the end user's unawareness since most people are unable to recognize a sophisticated phishing email. Phishing assessments, exams, questionnaires, and games can be used to educate users about how to recognize threats on a regular basis.

File Format Exploits

File format vulnerabilities are quickly becoming one of the most serious information security risks that face many businesses. Attackers who take advantage of these flaws build carefully designed malicious files that trigger program flaws (such as buffer overflows). These vulnerabilities are particularly dangerous because they often affect several platforms.


As a small business owner or employee, you definitely know the value of data and protection. Even if you have a dedicated IT service provider, it is still beneficial to be aware of the technological threats that your business can face.
Although providing IT services and up-to-date software and hardware is critical, it's also important to remember that today's hackers use social engineering to target human behavior. Fortunately, there is training, software, and help available for individuals and small businesses!

Discussion (0)