While technical measures to secure our personal information and devices become more sophisticated, phishing remains one of the cheapest and easiest ways for cyber criminals to initiate a con. For example, when asked for credit card information by where you usually shop, be sure it’s legit before you provide any personal details.
Phishing is a growing cybercrime concern for businesses and individuals, and cybercriminals use phishing as a tactic to lure their victims into giving them sensitive information in order to steal identities.
Phishing is a method used by cyber-criminals who use fake emails, texts or instant messages in order to deceive victims into giving away sensitive information like their credit card details by either fooling them into believing they’re speaking to someone they trust or are in some sort of trouble.
How does phishing work?
Phishing campaigns usually use one of two primary strategies:
1. Malicious attachments
Malicious email attachments, which usually have enticing names, such as ‘INVOICE’, install malware on victims’ machines when opened. This malware may quietly steal important information from the victim’s computer or even use it as a resource to launch denial of service attacks against other computers.
2. Links to malicious websites
Malicious links may point to a website that is used as a fake copy or look-alike of a legitimate one which contains a malicious script intended for stealing your personal and private information.
Types of phishing website
1. Pharming/DNS cache poisoning
Pharming means to redirect false traffic from a website. It is committed by exploiting vulnerabilities inside the DNS (Domain Name System). The domain name system maps domain names to IP addresses on the Internet. A pharming attack impersonates a real site about which he is informed.
2. Typosquatting/URL hijacking
These spoof websites look genuine but are subtly different from the sites they impersonate.
Misspell the legitimate URL;
Use letters that are next to each other on the keyboard, such as ‘n’ in place of ‘m’;
Swap two letters round; or
Add an extra letter.
3. Targeted phishing attacks
Phishing attacks may come with a wide array of tactics and tricks, but it’s important to remember that these days there are many different hybrid versions of phishing emails too. While they’ve been in use for quite some time, the idea is pretty simple. Knowingly or unknowingly you might have witnessed or even taken part in one of these variants – like spear phishing – which targets specific organizations rather than individuals.
Implement appropriate technical countermeasures appropriate to the size of your business to prevent potential phishing attacks such as those sent by random attackers from getting through your defenses.
As a security engineer, it’s important that you or your team takes a healthy approach to good habits. Security incidents can happen which is why you’re paid for your services! Encourage your team to admit when something has slipped through the net and have regular meetings with staff to make them aware of best practice.
After training people in staff awareness, put them to the test. The effectiveness of a phishing attack can be used to evaluate the clarity of your instructions and to determine who needs more follow-up.
How we can help you mitigate the threat of phishing
IT Governance is a company that has made it their business to deliver the best ever IT governance and risk management courses, as well as offer the best phishing solutions online. So if you’re looking for ways to improve your own IT policies or want to stay up-to-date with the latest cyber security threats in your area.
In closing, Phishing attacks are on the rise. Reports show record growth in recent years, and a solid security awareness program is an integral part of any defense-in-depth strategy. Phish Threat allows you to experience the life of a potential victim of phishing scams. It will also educate employees with well-thought training material that provides them with relevant information on how to protect themselves from these online threats.
Spear phishing, or targeted phishing, is an email scam aimed at a specific individual or company. These messages often pretend to be from a legitimate company or organization (such as your bank or internet service provider), and senders use personal information to gain access to accounts. Spear phishing can be particularly dangerous, since the scammers generally know how to blend in, and their messages are crafted specifically to be convincing. Here are helpful tips for spear phishing prevention:
Spear phishing is a type of phishing attack that targets certain individuals or organizations typically through emails. The purpose of spear phishing is to steal sensitive personal information, such as login information or to gain access to the target’s device with malware.
While spear phishing emails are being sent, they attempt to do as much research as possible to bring assailants as close to their target as possible. The assailants come up with phishing messages using social engineering approaches in order to convince the victims to click on a bad link or attachment. Once their target completes the desired activity, the attacker can gain access to their credentials and assume control of your network behind the scenes.
Spear-phishing vs Phishing vs Whaling
Phishing, spear-phishing, and whaling are malicious mails that are designed to resemble the fair usage of a type of cybercrime.
Where quantity is concerned, phishing attacks are centered around quantity. The e-mails, tweets, and texts relaying a fraudulent message may be generic, but it’s sent in large quantities to a large group of different clients to increase the odds of catching a victim. Phishing attacks through phone calls are often known as vishing for voice-phishing. And phishing attacks through text messages are known by the name of smishing for SMS-phishing.
Spear-phishing attacks prioritize quality. Spear-phishing emails, texts, or phone calls are highly customized for a specific organization or individual. Spear-phishing attacks are more likely to deceive their potential victims because of the time and effort spent creating customized texts that appear to come from the legitimate sender.
Whaling attacks follow precisely the same individualized strategy of spear-phishing attacks. Whaling brokers prey on high-level targets to capture financial and privacy-invasive information. To address the imbalance regarding the value of their information, to engage in targeted killing, whale hunting often results in huge measures of damage.
How a Spear-Phishing Attack Works
The explanation behind spear phishing attacks’ unique level of personalization enables them to be extremely dangerous and straightforward to fall into. Hackers rely on reconnaissance tactics during their research so they can increase the chances of success.
Social media platform users frequently use Facebook and Linkedin to stalk their targets. By drawing a map of their personal contacts, they seek a picture of their target’s social network, which provides them with ample context in order to properly craft their persuasive message.More sophisticated hackers may use machine learning algorithms to analyze huge volumes of data in an effort to reveal specific persons who are most vital.
Utilizing your personal information, spear phishers can then craft a seemingly genuine email that grabs your target’s attention. Many people don’t recently update their security because they feel pampered by a personal touch and aren’t as careful about clicking a link or downloading an attachment.However, this mistake can result in major consequences, such as the theft of private information or a malware infection.
Your personal computer’s popup screen can play tricks on you. Keep yourself updated about the dangers the information we offer to you can bring.
To prevent any sort of phishing attack, comprehensive security awareness training is vital, regardless of whether an employer is training many users from home. But even security-conscious employees will sometimes click on a malicious link, whether they’re rushed or it was really convincing.
In conclusion, Spear Phishing Prevention refers to the technique of targeting an organization or person by impersonating someone with higher authority. This is achieved by using emails with false information. Entrepreneurs and organizations should adopt protection techniques to safeguard their businesses from Spear Phishing.
As malicious actors develop increasingly sophisticated attack vectors, enterprises and organizations need to draw a strong line of defense against such threats. While phishing happens to be one of the oldest tools to inflict cyberattacks, TrickBot phishing is a comparatively newer malware that first gained visibility as a simple banking Trojan. Over the years, TrickBot has evolved significantly to remain a threat to organizations. Its adaptive and modular nature makes it one of the most significant attack vectors. The latest version can check the screen resolution of the targeted devices to look for virtual machines. Nevertheless, you can combat the challenge with proper anti-phishing solutions in place, along with training your employees.
Credential stuffing is a phishing attack in which threat actors use the credentials obtained from a data breach to log in to another unrelated service. For example, an attacker may use a list of passwords and usernames that he got from a breach of a department store and use these login credentials to log in to the website of a national bank. The malicious actors work on the notion that a fraction of department store customers also have a bank account and use the same login credentials for both services.
The increasing trend of cyber-attacks and the lack of adequate cyber readiness dictate that organizations should improve their security posture by alerting their users about various types of phishing attacks, the methods malicious actors use, and the consequences of a successful attack. Solutions to improve phishing awareness start by educating users about what communications and media are used in a phishing attack, what to look for in a social engineering attempt, and how to spot a scam from a distance. Phishing simulation campaigns go a step further by helping employees become more alert to phishing attempts by going through mock-phishing attempts.
Less than a month ago, Microsoft exposed a well-organized operation that provides a one-of-a-kind, DIY phishing-as-a-service (PhaaS) product to malicious actors. This product includes phishing kits, hosting services, and templates to create and develop customized phishing campaigns. This ‘BulletProofLink’ (also referred to as BulletProftLink) operation was first discovered in 2020, yet it continues today.
Machine learning is one of the critical mechanisms working in tandem with Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is based on algorithms focused on understanding and recognizing patterns from enormous piles of data to create a system that can predict unusual behavior and anomalies. It evolves with time while learning patterns of normal behavior. These characteristics make it helpful in identifying phishing emails, spam, and malware.
With threats such as ransomware, phishing emails, and malware constantly lurking in the dark, cybersecurity experts are always at war against those waiting to exploit uneducated victims. Since the first phishing attack in the mid-1990s, it has evolved into a highly sophisticated and most frequent attack vector leading to fraud activity. Enterprises need to fundamentally change their approach to cybersecurity and align their budgets with the newly defined reality. As per a report, cybersecurity expenditure will touch approximately $6 trillion by 2021 globally.
Today’s cyber adversaries don’t merely rely on computer viruses and worms to target an individual digitally but make use of sophisticated social engineering (phishing) techniques to rob the end-users of their PII (Personally Identifiable Information) and other confidential information. And businesses are no different, especially online businesses such as e-commerce; they are more lucrative targets for them. Their modus operandi includes masquerading themselves as authorized entities, sending out fraudulent emails, text messages, or even making phone calls to lure customers and clients and mislead them into divulging sensitive information. Here’s how these threat actors target e-commerce businesses.Continue reading “The Relevance of Phishing Protection for Ecommerce Businesses” »
With the fast pace of digital transformation today, businesses don’t have much choice other than doing all their transaction processing online, including the creation, storage, and retrieval of documents and records. According to a study conducted by Berkeley’s School of Information Management, University of California, organizations create more than 93 percent of their corporate data electronically. In such a scenario, the need for protecting your electronic records against social engineering attacks like phishing, vishing, spear phishing, SMiShing, etc. is of the utmost importance for any organization. This is the reason all the organizations today are now trying hard to implement a Cybersecurity framework that also encompasses anti-phishing techniques and deploy phishing protection control measures to safeguard their information assets.
The Need For Protecting Your Electronic Records
With increasing digitalization in the technology space, the way we work with our documents and electronic records have changed. We no longer use a typewriter to create paper documents which we then store in file cabinets and shelves; instead, we create electronic documents using word processing software on our computers and other information processing systems and store them on our information system, external drives, or on cloud storage facilities. Such electronic records may take the forms of word-processed documents, email messages, digital spreadsheets, or images.
It is often said that electronic records are more secure than paper documents stored in a physical location. While this is true to a great extent, the downside to electronic records is that phishers can attempt to access them from virtually anywhere in the world, employing such means as email phishing and vishing attacks. The growing sophistication and advancement of hackers and their technology mean that the protection of your documents in cyberspace is becoming more challenging. Besides, though your records are no longer in physical storage, you still have to protect the devices that you use to access them. Findings of the study mentioned above say that of all security breaches and data tampering of electronic records, more than 80 percent happens in the enterprise’s location.
How To Protect Your Online Electronic Documents
Develop an information management system based on the sensitivity and threat levels of your documents. When you create your documents and organize them for storage, identify those that pose a severe threat to your organization by their loss or breach of security. The risks may be physical, financial, operational, safety, or reputation-related. For instance, categorize documents into different sensitivity-levels like “top secret” (breach of security or disclosure of these documents severely impedes or damages business), “confidential” (breach of these is likely to harm your business), and “unclassified” (not expected to cause harm even if breached). Use these categories as your base for building security and authorization protocols for all your data and their storage.
Encrypt your electronic documents. By encrypting your records, you convert them into formats that cannot be read by others without authorization even if they have access to them. Select the files to be encrypted based on the threat levels they have. When you have to transfer your documents physically to external drives, you can encrypt the entire device. Proper data organization combined with encryption will make sure that your information is secure in most cases. You can also use the in-built encryption tools in word-processing platforms like Microsoft Word and PDF to secure individual files in this way.
When you have to share your documents online, verify beforehand the credibility and security of the website to which you are connecting. The ‘HTTP prefix to the address and a padlock icon before it denote secure sites. You can also see the details of security certificates and encryption levels to verify their authenticity.
Lay down strict policies for the retention of files. Your plan should include documentation of the destruction of critical records if any. Remember that the destruction of documents doesn’t mean the same as their deletion. Also, be aware of any government policies on document retention.
Make it a habit, and implement a system, to save your electronic records on cloud storage or secure network drives, and avoid storing sensitive information on your PC hard drives. Have an automatic organizing system in place that will file documents according to their threat-level categorization discussed above.
Use reputed software with the ability to create audit trails. This software will generate a record of who has accessed, viewed, transferred, or edited any information on your documents.
Have a secure backup plan in place at all times. Don’t assume that you can back up your documents when you smell something fishy. Have a proper backup system for your data including the recovery of files deleted by accident or by design, access to your data offline, etc. Have a backup arrangement that saves files in another location in case of any natural disaster. Many big companies these days have a central database and copies of databases located in different parts of the world.
Give as much thought to your hardware security as you do to that your electronic records. A common mistake is to be very wary of digital security while neglecting the safety of hardware or paper documents. For example, most people would never tell their account passwords to strangers, but few will think twice before handing over their credit cards to waiters, who are strangers nonetheless.
Conduct tests and false attacks on your system to see whether hackers may or may not find you a soft target and also to ensure that you have adequate countermeasures to any possible breaching attempt. These tests will reveal vulnerabilities of which you may not be aware.
Use a well-known Electronic Data Management System (EDMS). There are Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) that cater to enterprises with a comprehensive solution for data management, including creation, storage, indexing, recovery, and disposal of electronic records of the organization. Stringent security requirements protect the data stored in these systems.
Direct a part of your focus on security within your organization. We’ve already mentioned that most of the security breaches and tampering of electronic data occur inside your premises. Implement a need-to-know policy for sharing information even with your employees.
Other Tips For The Protection Of Electronic Records
Destroy all traces of personal info on the hardware you get rid of or sell, such as old mobile phones, tablets, PCs, Laptops, etc.
Make it a habit to protect your documents with strong passwords.
Use digital signatures like AdobeSign and DocuSign for efficient processing of your electronic documents as well as for added security.
Update OS and security software frequently, including browser updates.
There are multiple steps you have to take to protect your electronic records from people with malicious intentions. You should understand that protecting your electronic documents and other information assets is not a one-time or a one-step process, but rather the continuous implementation of the precautionary measures discussed above, constant improvement, and being aware of the recent happenings in the cyber world.
A study by Forbes concluded that there could be up to 3.1 billion domain spoofing emails being sent daily. The most common understanding of spoofing is associated with email spoofing. However, domain spoofing is a more significant threat to organizations. Furthermore, many organizations are unaware of how it can hurt business and how anti-phishing solutions and anti-ransomware solutions can protect them from spoofing.
In the highly digitized world, phishing attacks continue to jeopardize global organizations, targeting their employees. Considering humans to be an easily accessible line of defense when it comes to cybersecurity, awareness among staff is the need of the hour. When one finds one of the machines or systems vulnerable, one proactively fixes the issue. The same applies to employees who are humans. Besides deploying innovative anti-phishing solutions, one needs to deploy a good cybersecurity awareness program to prepare employees to mitigate attacks.
It is a well-known fact that most of us in this digital era leaves behind our track or digital footprint online. While we don’t often get into troubles for doing so, our digital trails may be all that is needed by savvy scammers to get the better of us. There’s a scam operation called spear phishing that relies on information that is available online about a person or an organization to take advantage of them and to obtain illegal gains from them.
Phishing is a kind of cyber-attack that is increasingly growing in popularity among hackers due to its simplicity of use and high potential rewards should the attacks prove to be successful. Phishing is usually done via email, popup ads, or even calls and involves deceptively fooling users into taking some action that ends up compromising them.
Though phishing has its origins in the mid-1990s, it has gained tremendous relevance today. The entire business world relies on email as its prime communication channel. As email traffic has increased over the years, so have phishing attempts. Hence, it becomes essential for IT and Email admins to be constantly on their toes and keep employing innovative strategies to keep phishing at bay. The following Email Security and Phishing Safety Guide endeavors to touch upon these aspects.
Cybercriminals invade into your enterprise’s information systems and figure out new ways and new vulnerabilities to execute more sophisticated phishing attacks. Human, time and again have proved to be the weakest link in the security chain before organizations take some preventive measures to stop phishing.
‘Anti Phishing Services’ are used to prevent phishing attacks against the individuals, systems or organizations.