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. Spear Phishing Attack. APWG member Agari tracks the identity theft technique known as “business e-mail compromise” or BEC. Europol noted that 65 percent of targeted attacks involved spear phishing as the primary infection vector. 72% of COVID-19-related attacks … spear phishing attack. Effectively preventing these attacks requires monitoring all these activities and, often, in real-time. If there is no prior knowledge or spear phishing protection in place, attackers can easily target victims who put personal information on the internet. Use logic when opening email, and do not click links in emails. 72% of COVID-19-related attacks are scamming. 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. Business email compromise attacks, for example, are also known as whaling, CEO fraud, or wire-transfer fraud. In the release, titled “Business Email Compromise: The $26 Billion Scam,” the FBI shared sobering statistics about just how effective BEC fraud has become. Here’s an example of a real spear phishing email. 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.”. These helpful tips will save you and your bank account from undue attack and impersonation. under the right conditions anyone can be fooled by a spear-phishing message. One year after the arrest made in Spain, spear phishing is still one of the most common and most dangerous attack vectors seen by both, law enforcement and industry. If you are suspicious about links, don’t click on them. Phishing attacks are at their highest level in three years. Judging by the amount of activity, the phishing industry is a thriving business. Phishing is social engineering using digital channels. With this form of attack, a hidden malware in a link triggers a download. How is spear phishing different from the regular phishing? 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. In 2017, spear-phishing emails were the most widely used infection method, employed by 71% of hacker groups which carried out cyber attacks. Some of the campaigns are far more targeted and are sent to only a handful of individuals – To individuals in a specific department in a company, for instance. Students and undergraduate applicants to Lancaster University had their personal details stolen in a pair of breaches that were disclosed on 22 July 2019. Phishing is the act of sending emails that falsely claim to be from a legitimate organization. Business email compromise (BEC) makes up 12% of the spear-phishing attacks analyzed, an increase from just 7% in 2019. To fight spear phishing scams, employees need to be aware of the threats, such as the possibility of bogus emails landing in their inbox. In the corporate environment, one of the biggest spear phishing attacks was that on email marketing services company Epsilon back in 2011. The attackers often disguise themselves as very close friends to get this information. It is almost impossible to protect against spear phishing considering the number of nuances and intricacies that go into the planning and execution. 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. Generally set passwords that are a minimum of 12 to 14 characters in length. »Don't assume that you're too smart to fall for a spear phishing attack. It is important to update your software once you get update notification. According to APWG’s Phishing Activity … Subscribe to get our Daily Fix delivered to you inbox 5 days a week, » Email Marketing Services Company Epsilon Breach. As phishers up their game in terms of both the frequency and capabilities of their attacks, HR and organizations’ security functions must work together to achieve more than awareness. 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. An example of a spear phishing email. Many organisations saw a shocking increase in social engineering throughout 2018, phishing attacks in particular. 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. 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. But there are ways to actually protect yourself against spear phishing. I'm sorry, but in order to complete what you're trying to do, you must be logged in. 1. 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 shows just how hard it is to identify and properly respond to targeted email threats. Do not post anything that you do not want a potential scanner to see! With regard to cyber espionage, phishing was used in 78 percent of cases. Of course, these are just a few examples of prominent attacks that made it to the front pages of the Internet. The City of Naples says the cyber attack that resulted in the loss of $700,000 was a "sophisticated" spear phishing strategy. Given their highly personalized nature, these attacks are far more difficult to prevent as compared to regular phishing scams. From a global law enforcement perspective, Europol recently released a report focused on spear phishing that noted how “spear phishing is still one of the most common and most dangerous attack vectors.” The report further detailed how one organized criminal group caused over 1 billion dollars in losses to the financial services industry by leveraging spear phishing as part of their activities to move money via ATM withdrawals and wire transfers. You have to be logged in to leave a comment. Spear phishing may sound simple, but the attack emails have greatly improved in the last few years and are now extremely difficult to detect. Be careful and meticulous about what you post online. Phishing attacks jump by 21% in latest quarter, says Kaspersky by Lance Whitney in Security on August 29, 2019, 6:36 AM PST The number of worldwide phishing attacks detected by … The email advised that the hosts could not accept any more bookings until they accept compliance with GDPR policy from Airbnb. an ample backup and retrieval program for your business, you should, and soon. 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). The most successful type of phishing attack is the so-called spear-phishing attack, which is specifically aimed at individuals or certain companies. Chris Veltsos is a professor in the Department of Computer Information Science at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he regularly teaches Information ... read more. Targeted spear phishing attacks are carefully designed to go undetected. Lancaster University students’ personal data stolen in phishing attack. The phisher acquires personal details of victims such as their friends, hometown, employer, locations they frequent, and what they have recently bought online. This involves constantly educating the users about what spear phishing attacks are, and how to guard against them. In a BEC attack, a scammer targets employees who have access to company finances, usually by sending them email from fake or compromised email accounts (a “spear phishing” attack). 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. address directly into your browser to get to your 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. “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. 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. Phishing and Email Fraud Statistics 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. As a result, EC3 organised a Joint Advisory Group meeting from 26 – 27 March 2019 at Europol to discuss what industry and law enforcement can do 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. 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. Most of these updates have security software that help prevent attack. And they are all being abused for phishing attacks. From 2013 to 2019, the FBI reported nearly 70,000 American victims, totaling over 10 billion dollars in losses for the U.S. alone. They had a data breach … 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. © 2020 Equities News | Equities.com, Inc. * All dates and time are being displayed in Eastern Standard Time (EST). 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. The largest form of phishing attacks, at 51%, is a malware attack. The email will ask the recipient to supply confidential information, such as bank account details, PINs or passwords; these details are then used by the originators of the phishing email to conduct fraud. This is an interesting example of spear phishing targeting private individuals as opposed to business. I recommend a storage and data protection assessment be conducted twice a year 84% of SMBs Targeted by Phishing Attacks Username and password do not match or you do not have an account yet. The report, titled Spear Phishing: Top Threats and Trends Vol. to assess the state of health of your data protection program. 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. 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. 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. 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 … However, they are also a portal through which attackers can take advantage of our human nature. The most risky and (Source: Varonis ) In Q1 of 2019, 21.7% of all phishing attempts Kaspersky Labs tracked were aimed at Brazilian users. Just how susceptible are people to phishing and spear phishing? In 2018, reports of credential compromise rose 70% over 2017, and they’ve soared 280% since 2016. destination safely. The same survey also indicates that 86% of respondents reported dealing with business email compromise (BEC) attacks. 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. Targets have 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. The longer the password is, the harder it will be to crack. Security firm Trend Micro estimated that spear phishing accounted for 91% of cyberattacks. DISCLOSURE: Keep in mind the following tips to be safe from this cyber crime. The fraudulent but convincing messages are usually very urgent in nature and demand sensitive information or contain malware that the victim unwittingly activates. There is no fixed script that can be followed against spear phishing protection, but the following best practices are highly recommended. Phishing Activity Trends Report, 3rd Quarter 2019 ! Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Clicking on the link would take the user to a spoof site that then harvested personal information. Even though RSA managed to spot the attack in progress, the attackers still managed to steal sensitive data from RSA’s network. 8 July 2019. 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. If you're a fan of Hollywood movies, chances are you have heard of the hack that involved the leaking of emails linking various celebrities including then President Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio and David Fincher, which ultimately led to the forced resignation of the targeted Sony executive and the the payment of $8 million in compensation - $4.5 million to employees and $3.5 million to attorneys. Phishing attacks have been increasing steadily throughout 2019. Cybercriminals use various techniques to monitor emails, file sharing, and internet browsing activities of target users to meticulously gather background information. There are several different types of phishing attacks, and the type the scammers use depends on their end goal. sure the authenticity of the links present in email body before clicking on it. 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. 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. 4. 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). 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). Most of the phishing emails being sent are part of large campaigns sent randomly using huge lists of email addresses, but not all. 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. According to, Implement best practices for responding to. I personally suggest making In September 2019, the FBI issued a rare warning about BEC attacks via its IC3 reporting center. Hackers use a method called Spear Phishing to trick users into giving up their data freely. Data protection needs to be an essential part of your overall IT strategy, so 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. 83% of global infosec respondents experienced phishing attacks in 2018, an increase from 76% in 2017. Like the APWG’s statistics, Europol’s findings show that the number of phishing websites has reached new record levels. Top leadership should encourage the development and refining of dedicated, Organizations should also conduct a yearly review of controls and processes to get assurances of their effectiveness. Consider also whether your password is unique, and, critically, whether you will be able to remember it. If you haven’t already installed This is measured by the share of users whose Anti-Phishing solutions were triggered by users in those countries. This year's report shows how phishing continues to evolve as threat actors adapt to (and exploit) changes in the digital landscape. Barracuda’s research reveals key takeaways about how these targeted attacks are evolving and the approaches cybercriminals are using to maximize their impact. 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. 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. If BEC attacks have been getting a lot more coverage in 2019, it’s because there has been an uptick in activity and in losses reported by businesses and individuals. Type the claimed sender's website Targeted spear phishing attacks are carefully designed to go undetected. 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. Sony did have to cancel the release in theaters but managed to release a digital copy of the movie instead. The best passwords are a mix of numbers, special characters and a mix of upper and lower case letters. 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. Many scams, especially the ones that target private individuals are likely never reported but still, perform their mission with devastating precision. 15% of people successfully phished will be targeted at least one more time within the year. 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. 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. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of equities.com. The first incident was a … But much of the advice which was common as recently as five years ago is no longer sufficient. The attacker would … Healthcare data is apparently worth more on the black market than even financial data and could have potentially resulted in profits of millions of dollars for perpetrators. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer. 12. 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. Spear phishing is a targeted attempt to steal sensitive information such as account credentials or financial information from a specific victim. 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. 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. 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 latest estimate from ProofPoint’s State of the Phish 2020 report indicates that nearly 90% surveyed organizations faced spear phishing attacks in 2019. Avoid using one password for all your accounts. 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 2019 report — our fifth annual — has been significantly expanded, offering more data and analysis than ever before. Researchers at Verizon concluded that under the right conditions anyone can be fooled by a spear-phishing message. For example, the website, Europol has indicated that many organizations are simply unprepared to investigate spear phishing and BEC incidents adequately. Watch what personal information you put on the internet. The longer the password is, the harder it will be to crack 150,000 victims, more. 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