3 Trends Impacting Email: Persistent Fraud, Part 2
In part one of this three-part series, I examined the evolving landscape of email deliverability, as mailbox providers strive to stay a step ahead of spammers with their filtering algorithms. In this second post on the trends that are affecting email deliverability, I'm going to examine another kind of cybercrime and its influence on email: fraud.
Phishing emails are now so common that one new attack is identified every minute. These emails appear to be from a legitimate sender, often hiding behind a spelling error or friendly “from” address (i.e., maces.com instead of macys.com). Content typically includes clickbait such as “verify your account” or “validate your identity” that's designed to trick the recipient into providing personal and account-related information. The details provided are quickly and widely exploited, from unauthorized purchases to identity theft.
Spoofing emails are another regular fraud tactic. Fraudsters typically mask fake emails by using logos and branded design, along with a strong call to action to fool the recipient into clicking on a link that downloads malicious content, often without the recipient knowing what happened. Some cybercriminals use the installed malware to “watch” the recipient and gather account and password information that can then be used against them. Other installed malware renders the recipient’s device useless until a ransom is paid.
Data breaches are also becoming increasingly common, as malicious attackers regularly target companies for their customer data. While we've heard a lot about Yahoo, Sony and the DNC’s experience with cybercrime, retail has also had issues recently, with 102 data breaches that affected over 16 million records in the first half of 2016.
The cost of cybercrime can be extremely damaging to businesses. The danger isn’t only the volume and frequency of attacks, or even the monetary cost, which is predicted to rise above $2 trillion by 2019. The biggest risk to businesses — and especially retail — is the loss of consumer trust. As fraud continues to rise, consumers will become less willing to share personal information (e.g., mailing address, credit card, email address) that's critical for e-commerce transactions. Similarly, consumers will take pause before opening or clicking a legitimate email for fear of being a victim of a cybercrime scheme. Therefore, retailers must take responsibility for ensuring proper handling of personal data and earning customer trust with each and every transaction.
Fraud is clearly on the rise, and shows no sign of slowing in the near future. Combatting this threat will require a significant shift in mind-set, as IT alone cannot solve the problem of email fraud. Instead, marketers will need to combine forces with IT to ensure security measures and best practices are implemented across every aspect of an email program. In the future, the best of commercial infrastructure will merge with the best of in-house systems and share enhanced authentication protocol (likely built on DMARC) to proactively manage risk in the email channel.
This merging of technologies will infiltrate not only the back end of how mail is sent, handled and delivered, but also the strategy behind content and cadence. We’ll explore the future of personalization in the third and final post on email trends.
Bonnie Malone leads the consulting, client training, and knowledge and editorial organization of Return Path, an email data solutions provider.
Related story: 3 Trends Impacting Email: Deliverability is Evolving, Part 1
Bonnie is passionate about excellent customer experience. With a background in marketing, merchandise buying and retail management, she helps companies stay relevant amid the changing digital landscape. Bonnie leads the knowledge and consulting teams at Return Path, the global leader in email deliverability. She is an active Email Experience Council committee member, featured speaker for events, and writes monthly for the Return Path blog and Total Retail.