Students and undergraduate applicants to Lancaster University had their personal details stolen in a pair of breaches that were disclosed on 22 July 2019. Europol noted that 65 percent of targeted attacks involved spear phishing as the primary infection vector. Spear phishing may sound simple, but the attack emails have greatly improved in the last few years and are now extremely difficult to detect. These emails carried a virus that could potentially compromise government computers and result in sending sensitive data about US nuclear weapon program to foreign governments. to assess the state of health of your data protection program. Of course, these are just a few examples of prominent attacks that made it to the front pages of the Internet. But there are ways to actually protect yourself against spear phishing. The attack involved an email with a link to a malicious site which resulted in downloading of Win32.BlkIC.IMG, which disabled anti-virus software, a Trojan keylogger called iStealer, that was used to steal passwords, and an administration tool called CyberGate, which was used to gain complete remote control of compromised systems. Organizations and individuals must remain vigilant for spear phishing and BEC attacks by combining awareness with robust security controls and processes that boost overall cyber resilience. I'm sorry, but in order to complete what you're trying to do, you must be logged in. Here’s an example of a real spear phishing email. Business email compromise (BEC) makes up 12% of the spear-phishing attacks analyzed, an increase from just 7% in 2019. Spear phishing is a targeted attempt to steal sensitive information such as account credentials or financial information from a specific victim. 72% of COVID-19-related attacks are scamming. This involves constantly educating the users about what spear phishing attacks are, and how to guard against them. Europol warns that there is a wealth of at-risk information online about organizations and specific employees, such as top-level managers and finance or payroll staff. With regard to cyber espionage, phishing was used in 78 percent of cases. The phisher acquires personal details of victims such as their friends, hometown, employer, locations they frequent, and what they have recently bought online. This is no time for organizations to be complacent about this form of social engineering, as the stakes are high, and technology-based controls can only get us so far. From 2013 to 2019, the FBI reported nearly 70,000 American victims, totaling over 10 billion dollars in losses for the U.S. alone. One of the most famous data breach attacks with spear phishing was with Anthem, a healthcare insurer. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of equities.com. Consider also whether your password is unique, and, critically, whether you will be able to remember it. destination safely. The average financial cost of a data breach is $3.86m (IBM) Phishing accounts for 90% of data breaches. BEC scams accounted for over $12 billion in losses (FBI) Phishing attempts have grown 65% in the last year. 5 – Best practices to defend against evolving attacks, revealed a rise in number of business email compromise (BEC) attacks, which make up 12% of all spear-phishing attacks targeting businesses, up from just 7% in 2019. According to a new market research report published by Acute Market Reports “Global Spear Phishing Protection Market – Growth, Future Prospects, and Competitive Analysis,2019 – 2027”, the overall spear phishing protection market has been registered a market value of US$ 923.65 Mn in 2018 and is set to grow with a CAGR of 11.60 % during the forecast period. If you are suspicious about links, don’t click on them. I recommend a storage and data protection assessment be conducted twice a year Via phishing emails, the attackers managed to install malware and steal sensitive information about Sony Pictures and its employees, a large selection of unreleased films and then managed to permanently delete from a large part of Sony’s infrastructure. The latest estimate from ProofPoint’s State of the Phish 2020 report indicates that nearly 90% surveyed organizations faced spear phishing attacks in 2019. Business email compromise attacks, for example, are also known as whaling, CEO fraud, or wire-transfer fraud. This year's report shows how phishing continues to evolve as threat actors adapt to (and exploit) changes in the digital landscape. Avoid using one password for all your accounts. Phishing Activity Trends Report, 3rd Quarter 2019 ! Such reviews must address the human dimension of security with tailored security awareness campaigns and phishing tests as well as a review of technology controls and response processes. There is a running theme in the reports from the APWG and Europol and the warnings from the FBI/IC3: Take phishing seriously and review your preparations now. The first incident was a … 1. You have to be logged in to leave a comment. The Spam and Phishing in Q1 2019 report from SecureList (Kaspersky Labs) indicates that phishing attacks targeted users in Brazil most heavily compared to other countries. The attack took the form of a phishing email that was opened by five employees and which resulted in the download of keystroke logging software. Presenting the users with the anatomy of a typical spear phishing attack and outlining the pitfalls of falling victim can make users more vigilant in dealing with emails involving links and calls to action. The reason it stood out was how the story was told; it wasn’t just a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo that is tough to decipher. The fraudulent but convincing messages are usually very urgent in nature and demand sensitive information or contain malware that the victim unwittingly activates. Spear phishing campaigns are still hackers’ most-used attack vector in 2019, with over 90% of successful data breaches occurring as a result of a spear-phishing attack. InfoSec, Risk, and Privacy Strategist - Minnesota State University, Mankato, 2019 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index Report, Business Email Compromise: The $26 Billion Scam, fake unusual sign-in activity notifications, incident response and investigation processes, The structure of the organization — who works where and to whom they report, The various tools, skills and knowledge bases staff use routinely, The processes in place at that particular organization or location, Review your organization’s social engineering footprint, especially on the topics of structure, processes and software. The longer the password is, the harder it will be to crack. How is spear phishing different from the regular phishing? Spear Phishing Attack. Like the APWG’s statistics, Europol’s findings show that the number of phishing websites has reached new record levels. The perpetrators usually disguise themselves as trustworthy entities and then make contact with their target through email, phone calls (also called vishing for voice phishing), social media and even text messages (also called smishing for SMS-phishing). 84% of SMBs Targeted by Phishing Attacks The most important defense against spear phishing attacks other then standard controls such as spam filters, malware detection and antivirus, companies should consider phishing simulation tests, user education, and having an established process for users to report suspicious emails to the IT security team. In September 2019, the FBI issued a rare warning about BEC attacks via its IC3 reporting center. In addition, spear phishing attacks can deploy malware to hijack computers, organizing them into enormous networks called botnets that can be used for denial of service attacks. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer. According to APWG’s Phishing Activity … In 2018, reports of credential compromise rose 70% over 2017, and they’ve soared 280% since 2016. Do not post anything that you do not want a potential scanner to see! However, they are also a portal through which attackers can take advantage of our human nature. a targeted attempt to steal sensitive information such as account credentials or financial information from a specific victim Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. address directly into your browser to get to your Type the claimed sender's website The attackers also demanded that Sony also withdraw its film The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco with a story plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and threatened terrorist attacks at cinemas screening the film. “Phishing and malware will also continue to be relentless threats, leveraged by both cybercriminals and APT actors that require organizations to address the inadvertent actor risk.” — 2019 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index Report. The same survey also indicates that 86% of respondents reported dealing with business email compromise (BEC) attacks. In this attack, scammers used social engineering techniques to identify Airbnb host targets who were sent out fake emails about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implications. This is usually combined with a threat or request for information: for example, that an account will close, a balance is due or information is missing from an account. Business email compromise (BEC) makes up 12% of the spear-phishing attacks analyzed, an increase from just 7% in 2019. Your curiosity to see what's in the message and the personalized nature of the message with your first name are examples of factors working against you to encourage you to click or open the malware. Because phishing is a means to an end, one common follow-up that’s often observed alongside a phishing campaign is business email compromise (BEC). For each month from July to September 2019, they reported over 80,000 phishing sites, with three-quarters of all attacks targeting just three industry sectors: SaaS/webmail (33 … Some key recommendations from the Europol report are as follows: Email and social media keep us connected to our friends, families, employers and favorite brands. Just how susceptible are people to phishing and spear phishing? A phishing mail is quickly opened and an attachment with malware downloaded or private payment data entered in an input form and voila: the phishing attack is a full success. This phishing attack apparently had a political motive and was launched by a hacker group named Guardians of Peace, which the US investigators traced back to North Korea. experienced spear phishing attacks and 86% of them faced BEC attacks.16 In 2019, one of the most targeted service was Microsoft 365 and the main focus was on harvesting credentials.17 Once these credentials had been acquired, the attacker was able to collect more organisational data, a process that could last for weeks or months18 and could then lead to spear-phishing attacks. In the corporate environment, one of the biggest spear phishing attacks was that on email marketing services company Epsilon back in 2011. Phishing is the act of sending emails that falsely claim to be from a legitimate organization. Once this information is provided, the attacker can use it to gain access into such individuals' bank accounts or even steal an identity to create a new one using the information obtained. Be careful and meticulous about what you post online. Spear-Phishing, a Real-Life Example July 5, 2019 By Emil Hozan While reading some online security articles, one in particular stood out. Sony did have to cancel the release in theaters but managed to release a digital copy of the movie instead. 72% of COVID-19-related attacks … And they are all being abused for phishing attacks. There are several different types of phishing attacks, and the type the scammers use depends on their end goal. Many scams, especially the ones that target private individuals are likely never reported but still, perform their mission with devastating precision. 83% of global infosec respondents experienced phishing attacks in 2018, an increase from 76% in 2017. Judging by the amount of activity, the phishing industry is a thriving business. In the release, titled “Business Email Compromise: The $26 Billion Scam,” the FBI shared sobering statistics about just how effective BEC fraud has become. Many organisations saw a shocking increase in social engineering throughout 2018, phishing attacks in particular. © 2020 Equities News | Equities.com, Inc. * All dates and time are being displayed in Eastern Standard Time (EST). Given their highly personalized nature, these attacks are far more difficult to prevent as compared to regular phishing scams. 15% of people successfully phished will be targeted at least one more time within the year. Phishing is social engineering using digital channels. In their latest report covering Q3 2019, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) labeled this period as “the worst period for phishing that the APWG has seen in three years.” For each month from July to September 2019, they reported over 80,000 phishing sites, with three-quarters of all attacks targeting just three industry sectors: SaaS/webmail (33 percent), payment industry (21 percent) and financial institutions (19 percent). highly popular type of cyber attacks is the Some spear phishing attack examples include: Irony struck the security giant RSA in March 2011 when the systems behind the EMC division’s flagship SecurID 2-factor authentication product were compromised using spear phishing. But much of the advice which was common as recently as five years ago is no longer sufficient. To fight spear phishing scams, employees need to be aware of the threats, such as the possibility of bogus emails landing in their inbox. As the APWG noted, the preferred method was to ask for gift cards (56 percent), with another 25 percent moving funds via payroll diversion and 19 percent via direct transfers. According to, Implement best practices for responding to. The attacker would … Phishing attacks have been increasing steadily throughout 2019. Scammers invest heavily in creating innovative spoofs, and people and businesses must also invest accordingly, including incorporating measures against known cases of spear phishing or using advanced machine learning techniques that can predict the likelihood of an email being part of a spear phishing attack. Prevention against Spear phishing attacks. 8 July 2019. BEC attacks often involve tricking the victim into transferring funds to accounts under attackers’ control, and fraudsters have three main vehicles for “cashing out” in this way. The report, titled Spear Phishing: Top Threats and Trends Vol. Proofpoint’s 2019 State of the Phish Report found that 83% of respondents were hit by at least one spear phishing attack in last year. These helpful tips will save you and your bank account from undue attack and impersonation. Subscribe to get our Daily Fix delivered to you inbox 5 days a week, » Email Marketing Services Company Epsilon Breach. It is almost impossible to protect against spear phishing considering the number of nuances and intricacies that go into the planning and execution. The attackers managed to get one of the targets to open an email attachment which ended up installing a variant of the Poison Ivy Trojan using a zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Flash. Email, web, social media, SMS, and mobile apps are all major parts of our digital lives. Targets have For example, the APWG reported that by the end of 2019, 68 percent of all phishing sites used SSL protection — up from around 10 percent in Q1 2017 — so telling users to look for SSL/TLS visual clues in websites is no longer an effective strategy by itself. I personally suggest making Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information or data, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. The attackers often disguise themselves as very close friends to get this information. The health insurance giant Anthem experienced a devastating phishing attack in 2015, which resulted in the theft of private data of over 35.5 million customers and key employees including that of Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish. (Source: Varonis ) In Q1 of 2019, 21.7% of all phishing attempts Kaspersky Labs tracked were aimed at Brazilian users. Hackers use a method called Spear Phishing to trick users into giving up their data freely. The largest form of phishing attacks, at 51%, is a malware attack. With this form of attack, a hidden malware in a link triggers a download. One of the most prominent examples of spear phishing in the public sector involves the case of Charles Harvey Eccleston who pleaded guilty to sending out emails to U.S Department of Energy employees. Barracuda’s research reveals key takeaways about how these targeted attacks are evolving and the approaches cybercriminals are using to maximize their impact. spear phishing attack. This information enables highly effective spear phishing attacks that can result in “much greater damage overall.” According to Europol, “one successful attempt can be enough to compromise a whole organization.”. To avoid raising suspicion and increase their chance of success, spear phishing campaigns tend to seek critical information related to three key aspects of a target organization: Extensive use of job advertising sites and social media platforms by organizations and employees alike can make the process of assembling this information much easier and faster than it would have been just a decade ago. Recent statistics from numerous sources point to an increase in the level of phishing activity and sophistication, as well as a heightened impact on organizations in terms of money stolen, data held for ransom and intellectual property pilfered. The stronger our technical defenses become, the more threat actors look to target the human dimension of security. 4. Username and password do not match or you do not have an account yet. 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