The valuable job done by email security solutions in combatting ransomware is easy to underestimate, especially in view of the fact that cybercriminals continue to get better and better at crafting their emails to imitate genuine communications. They spread malware through everyday file formats, such as Word or Excel, which the end user – the weakest link – activates unintentionally.
Encouraging, however, are the recent results of a test of security products performed by Virus Bulletin in November/December 2016. These showed that spam filters block the overwhelming majority of malware-containing emails, at a rate even higher than that at which they block 'ordinary' spam. In the test, run over a 19-day period, at least 199 out of every 200 emails with a malicious attachment were blocked by email security solutions.
The results point to only a very small percentage of malware sent via email leading to a malware infection, especially when coupled with user awareness; leading to users not opening attachments or enabling macros, and endpoint security solutions, which stop the malware working. Nevertheless, the large volumes of spam sent out ensure plenty of damage and a good return on investment for cybercriminals, even considering the low success rate.