Over 2.9 Billion email-based threats were detected in the first half of 2021. Business Email Compromise, obfuscation, and living off the land reigned, according to new data from Zix.

We’ve seen massive spikes before in the number of ransomware and other cyber attacks – usually when comparing a previous year to the current one. But rarely do we see a significant increase within just six months. According to the Global Threat Report: Mid-Year 2021 from Zix and AppRiver that’s exactly the case, with about 300,000 attacks in January of this year and over 600,000 in June.

The report provides several examples of attack trends observed by security researchers at Zix, including:

  • Increases in security solution obfuscation using Captcha and creatively encoding malicious attachments
  • The targeting of those looking for new jobs as workers return to the workplace
  • Living off the land using cloud resources, with Google APIs leading the way
  • Lots of Business Email Compromise
  • Use of many forms of banking trojans to steal banking and browser data

While most of the attack examples have equivalents here on our blog, this report does bring to light the increases in attack numbers and creativity you should expect to continue. The obfuscation is a particular focus for threat actors working to avoid detection by security solutions. Should they be successful, the last layer of defense is a well-prepared and vigilant user who, through continual Security Awareness Training, is always on the lookout for suspicious email content that may be the launching point for the next cyberattack.