Posted by Marbenz Antonio on August 24, 2022
Phishing represents the holy trinity of objectives for threat actors: it is quick, efficient, and profitable. It makes sense that the top technique employed by attackers to infiltrate a business, according to the 2022 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, was phishing. In 41% of the attacks that X-Force stopped in 2021, the perpetrators used phishing.
Because phishing is so effective, it has developed a life of its own and has many variations. Look at three popular categories and learn how to avoid them.
More specifically targeted than general phishing, spear phishing attacks. They actively try to attract more valuable clients and victims. Spending more time pursuing bigger fish would be the fishing analogy in this case. When compared to the “spray and pray” strategy of launching a generic phishing attack on thousands of businesses, spear phishing is usually more beneficial for the attacker.
Because attackers will spend more time investigating their victims, spear phishing is particularly effective for this reason. The better they can adapt their messaging, the more they will understand their particular targets. As a result, the likelihood of duping the victim rises. For instance, a hacker might spend time on the business’s social media pages. Perhaps the business held a specific webinar, and the attacker used details from it in their phishing email.
It’s important to remember that most spear phishing assaults today can be started fast and with ease. They typically simply require a few mouse clicks. The entry barrier for attackers is lowering every year thanks to the availability of pre-made phishing kits on the dark web.
Whaling is a type of spear phishing assault that targets top executives instead of the general public. Whaling concentrates on high-value individuals, whereas spear phishing may target lower-level employees of a high-value organization. After all, an attacker’s reward will be greater than the username and password details of an employee farther down the org chart if they can obtain account credentials from the CEO or chief financial officer.
Whaling needs victims to be well researched by attackers, maybe even more so than spear phishing. Whaling assaults usually start with phone calls or emails that use social engineering techniques.
Armed with this knowledge, the attacker will construct a convincing phishing email to trick the target into thinking it is genuine. The Business Email Compromise (BEC), which tries to trick the victim into thinking it comes from a C-suite executive’s email account, is one prevalent type of whaling to be on the lookout for. Attackers usually alter the account name and address to appear enough similar to deceive users.
For instance, a BEC scam in 2020 was successful because the attackers changed one letter in the email address of the company CEO. It was sufficient to convince the victim to transfer $1,000,000 into the scammer’s account to “address COVID precautions”.
Double-barrel phishing, also known as barrel phishing, targets victims by sending them two different emails. Usually, the first email is secure; it doesn’t have any malicious software or fake links. It serves as the lure used by attackers to gain trust. Once some level of trust has been gained, the attacker follows up with another email that contains a dangerous attachment or link.
Users may give their information to attackers as a result of these pressure methods, endangering their data and business.
For instance, the first message will seem benign and might read, “Hey there, the short question for you,” whereas the second email might read, “Hey again. Can you pls examine this file for faults before I send it to you? Immediate need
The moment the victim opens the attachment or clicks a link that directs them to a fake website that requests their login information, the attack is successful.
Use technology, awareness, and alertness as part of a three-pronged strategy for phishing assault defense.
The correct technology can have a big impact on phishing awareness. Employees can be put to the test with fake target phishing emails through programs like KnowBe4 or Hoxhunt’s security and phishing awareness training. Random testing is run, and the complexity, content, and context of the emails are usually changed.
Multi-factor authentication is an additional safeguard against phishing assaults (MFA). Even if MFA is not perfect, making phishers go through additional hoops to authenticate could greatly reduce the likelihood of an attack. Other helpful strategies include making sure personal gadgets are patched, using spam filters, and URL blocking.
Increase phishing awareness from a human perspective rather than focusing on technology. Raising awareness can be accomplished by holding brief but regular training sessions. Employees won’t view training as a burden if it is interesting and brief. Training needs to change to reflect the dangerous environment.
But probably most crucially, all staff members—especially C-suite executives—must be alert. Human nature compels us to believe an email or phone conversation that seems sincere. But if everyone approaches requests with suspicion by default, the community as a whole benefits.
Why not follow up with a phone call or in-person visit if you receive a request that could appear honest, but you are not sure? Confirming the request via email will not assist because responding to an attacker would merely make it clear that you are under their control.
A smart practice would be to physically type the website address into the browser if the request includes a link to ensure that it is real.
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