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In today’s digital age, email has become a central communication tool for personal and professional correspondence. However, the convenience of emails is accompanied by the ever-present threat of phishing attacks, malware, and other cyber threats. In fact – according to a press release from Deloitte – 91% of all cyber-attacks begin with an email.

To combat this – we are more and more implementing warning banners to alert users about potentially harmful emails. But is this approach enough? Or should we be changing our email habits to ensure riskier emails do not reach our inbox at all?

Let’s explore the concept of habituation – a natural trait of all animal organisms – and why a more robust email filtering strategy is essential.

Understanding Habituation

Habituation is a psychological phenomenon where repeated exposure to a stimulus results in a decrease in response to that stimulus over time. In the context of email security, when users frequently encounter warning banners on emails, they may start to ignore these warnings, assuming they are false alarms or not as serious.

This desensitization can be dangerous as it may lead to complacency, and blatantly missing key warnings which have the reverse effect as intended and therefore increasing the likelihood of clicking on a malicious link or downloading an infected attachment.

The Problem with Current Email Security Practices

Currently, many email systems flag suspicious emails with banners but still deliver them to the user’s primary inbox. This practice has two major flaws:

  1. Ineffectiveness of Banners Over Time: As users become habituated to seeing warning banners, they might not take them seriously. This habituation effect means that even when a real threat presents itself, the user might disregard the banner as just another false positive.
  2. User Error and Complacency: Placing the onus on users to make the right decision every time they encounter a risky email is unrealistic. Despite training and awareness efforts, the average user is not a cybersecurity expert and can make mistakes, especially if they are under pressure or distracted.

Why Shifting Riskier Emails to Junk is a Better Approach

To mitigate the risks associated with habituation and user error, a more stringent approach to handling potentially dangerous emails should be considered. Here’s why shifting riskier emails directly to the junk folder, complete with warning banners, might be a more effective strategy:

  1. Reduces the Habituation Effect: By not routinely exposing users to risk warnings in their primary inbox, we reduce the chance of them becoming desensitized to these alerts. When a user has to actively check their junk folder and sees a warning banner, they are more likely to take notice and proceed with caution.
  2. Limits Direct Exposure: Placing emails that trigger security flags directly into the junk folder minimizes the user’s interaction with potential threats. This setup adds an extra layer of protection by limiting the chances of accidental clicks on dangerous links or attachments.
  3. Enhances Overall Email Hygiene: Encouraging users to maintain a cleaner primary inbox by automatically filtering out potential threats can also help in improving overall email management practices, making important communications less likely to be overlooked.

Our email filtering process

As part of our core packages – we implement aggressive filtering rules that assess the risk level of incoming emails more stringently. This involves:

  • Advanced machine learning algorithms to detect phishing and spoofing attempts more accurately.
  • Integration of real-time threat intelligence to keep up with emerging cyber threats.
  • User training focused on managing the junk email folder and recognizing when to take warning banners seriously.

The effectiveness of these tools is greatly dependent on the end user recognizing and interpreting these analyzed results – which can be greatly impacted by Habituation.


Changing email habits by adopting stronger filters that move riskier emails directly to the junk folder could significantly enhance cybersecurity. By reducing the exposure to warning banners and minimizing direct contact with potentially harmful emails, organizations can protect themselves more effectively against cyber threats. This proactive approach not only prevents habituation but also reinforces better email management practices, leading to a safer digital environment for all users.