Barracuda study: Massive attacks via email

February 13, 2023

Email Security Trends Report 2023 shows attacks in the DACH region to be above average at 81 percent

The follow-up costs of a cyber-attack via email can be extremely expensive for companies and on average can significantly exceed one million dollars. This is shown by an international study commissioned by cloud security specialist Barracuda Networks and now published in its report “Email Security Trends 2023”. 75 percent of companies worldwide have been the victim of at least one successful email attack in the last 12 months. Remarkable: In the DACH region, this value is above average at 81 percent.

In December 2022, a total of 1,350 companies with 100 to 2,500 employees in the USA, Australia, India, and Europe were surveyed. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, 150 companies took part in the study. According to the study, the greatest impact of successful attacks via email in German-speaking countries was the loss of sensitive, confidential, or business-critical data (49 percent), followed by downtime and business interruptions as well as damage to the brand and company reputation (45 percent each). There were notable differences between industries. For example, financial services were particularly affected by the loss of valuable data and funds by attackers, while business interruption topped the list for the manufacturing industry. For healthcare facilities, recovery costs to get systems back up and running quickly were most important. However, regardless of size and industry, in a global comparison, companies where more than half of the employees work remotely faced higher risks and repair costs, with remote working accounting for 40 per cent of the companies surveyed in German-speaking countries.

The average follow-up costs of the most expensive attack have each significantly exceeded the 1-million-dollar mark in India, Australia, the Nordics and the Benelux countries. And they were also enormous in the DACH region at $979,752. At the same time, only 13 per cent of the company representatives surveyed in the German-speaking countries believe that the costs of email attacks have risen dramatically in the past year, and 8 per cent even believe that the costs of harmful attacks are falling – the highest proportion in the country comparison.

Companies know about their security gaps

Although 22 percent of companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have increased their overall spending on email security in the last 12 months, many say they do not yet feel sufficiently prepared. They see the greatest risks in data loss (36 percent), phishing (33 percent) and smishing (31 percent). Only 26 percent have already invested in special protection against spear phishing and only 37 percent have conducted computer-based security awareness training. By investing in these solutions, companies then feel better prepared for phishing and smishing.

“Email is a trusted and ubiquitous communication channel, and this makes it an attractive target for cybercriminals. We expect email-based attacks to become increasingly sophisticated, with perpetrators using AI and advanced social engineering to get the data or access they want and bypass security measures,” said Don MacLennan, SVP, Engineering & Product Management, Email Protection, Barracuda. Email-based attacks could be the starting point for a wide range of cyber threats, including ransomware, information theft, spyware, crypto-mining, other malware and more. “A growing awareness and understanding of email risks and the robust protection needed to stay safe will be key to protecting businesses and their employees in 2023 and beyond.”


The full Email Security Trends 2023 report is available at:

Methodology: Barracuda commissioned independent research firm Vanson Bourne to conduct a global survey of IT managers, senior IT security managers and IT and IT security decision makers. The survey included 1,350 respondents from a wide range of industries, including agriculture, biotechnology, construction, energy, government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, telecommunications, wholesale, and others. Survey participants were from the US, Australia, India and Europe. In Europe, respondents were from the UK, France, the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), the Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden). The survey was conducted in December 2022.

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