Phishing and Spearphishing: Don’t Take the Bait

If you could just prevent your staff from clicking on links or opening attachments in phishing emails, 95% of your cybersecurity problems would be prevented.

As perimeter defenses and anti-malware software products have improved, cyber-attackers have increasingly adopted the phishing email technique as their preferred method for acquiring usernames and passwords or for gaining unauthorized access to computers on your network. Consequently, attackers have evolved their strategies, leading to the spearphishing variation. In this tactic, the attacker conducts thorough reconnaissance on your company, enabling them to send an email to the individual they believe would be most susceptible or helpful in their malicious endeavors. Here are some recent examples, as reported on CSO.com:

Phishing emails play on people’s willingness to trust:

Email from the Boss

Typically, this involves a request that appears to come from a high-ranking official, often asking for a substantial wire transfer. Consequently, it’s crucial to take time to confirm these requests via a phone call. In many cases, this is a spearphishing email targeting the bookkeeper, accountant, or CFO.

Broken account.

 Email will appear to come from a company you do business with, complete with a link to a look-alike login page. Usually designed to steal login credentials or credit card information, or both.

Let’s make a deal. 

The advanced fee fraud or “Nigerian” email promises untold riches if only you will send some good faith money or provide you bank routing and account number for the huge deposit. Either way your money will disappear.

So precious.

In this case, the sender entices you with something attractive, like a free GoPro or iPhone. Alternatively, the enticement may be a cute cat video, a game, or a gift certificate.

Your shipment is damaged. 

These emails are typically designed to look like they came from trusted shipping services like UPS, FedEx, USPS, or others. They often relay a sad story about your shipment and prompt you to open an attachment or click on a link.

Upon clicking the links or opening the attachments, you will usually trigger the installation of a remote access Trojan horse malware program, which enables the attacker to log into your computer from across the Internet. Consequently, this sort of access allows them to bypass your firewall easily. Moreover, the malware often includes a module designed to disable your anti-malware software as well.

Check out our podcast to learn if it’s Malicious or Marketing.


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