Email security, Security Program Controls/Technologies, Generative AI

AI Will Dominate Email Attacks, Organizations Fear Impact, New Report Says

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Nine in 10 organizations reported that they have been struck by artificial intelligence (AI)-fueled email cyberattacks. Meanwhile, more than eight in 10 believe that AI will continue to be used to skirt existing security systems, a new report found.

Perception Point, which specializes in advanced threat prevention across digital communication channels, said its research, entitled "The Role of AI in Email Security," offers insight on the “alarming” rise in the use of AI by cybercriminals in attacks such as business email compromise.

Methods that organizations can deploy to counter modern email attacks by leveraging AI is also included in the study. According to the data, the percentage of respondents ranking AI as "extremely important" to their email defenses has increased by more than four times over the past 12 months.

AI's Impact on Email Security

Virtually all organizations expect AI to be moderately or extremely important to their email defenses, the report said. The growing perception of AI-enabled threats maps to the increasing awareness of large language models (LLM) and generative AI services, such as ChatGPT, the Tel Aviv, Israel-based Perception said.

Explaining that the surge in AI-fueled phishing and BEC attacks increase the need for “inventive preventative strategies,” Perception Point CEO Yoram Salinger said:

"As threat actors broaden their targets across messaging and communication channels, embracing emerging technologies and holistic security services that leverage AI is essential. We are committed to thwart and respond to the most sophisticated and modern attacks for our customers delivering a unique combination of an advanced threat prevention platform with AI-powered, multi-layered detection engines and a baked-in managed incident response service."

Email Security a Top Priority

Additional findings from the study include:

  • Nearly 4 out of 5 organizations rate addressing email security risks as a top three priority for their organization relative to all other security and risk initiatives.
  • 97% of respondents implemented AI-enabled email security because their traditional defenses were ineffective against AI-driven threats.
  • Buyers of AI-enabled email security want the ability to better protect other communication and collaboration apps, such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, Zoom, and Slack, Salesforce, and more, with AI.
  • Strengthening capabilities for detecting threats in email via AI is an essential first step, but it can't end there. Organizations must train cybersecurity professionals and SOC teams to respond quickly and effectively to identified incidents, leveraging the best of what AI brings to the table.

A month ago, Perception released its H1 2023 Report: Cybersecurity Trends & Insights, that reported an overall increase in social engineering attacks, including a 20% growth in the prevalence of BEC attacks along with a 41% surge in phishing attacks from H2 2022 to H1 2023. Additionally, the report observed a 75% increase in attacks targeting cloud collaboration apps and storage,

In June, Perception unveiled a new model developed to counter the emergent wave of AI-generated email threats. The AI-powered technology leverages Large Language Models (LLM) and Deep Learning architecture to effectively detect and prevent BEC attacks.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.