Netizen: The Five Lures in a Phiserman’s Tacklebox.
Ever received an email telling you that you just won a brand-new car? What about a robocall saying your car’s extended warranty is about to expire? Or maybe you’ve seen a more elaborate ploy where someone included personal details such as your phone carrier and device model in an attempt to get you a free upgrade for your phone. All these ploys are phishing attempts where an unknown threat actor tries to solicit personal or financial information from their target. In 2020 the U.S. FBI reported that phishing attacks were the most reported form of cyber-attack, with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reporting twice as many phishing attacks than other forms of cyber incidents. Let’s check out all the ways cybercriminals will try to lure you in with tricky phishing attempts:
Business Email Compromise (BEC):
Business Email Compromises, or BEC for short, is often the most seen phishing attempt in modern corporations. This strategy usually involves the threat actor spoofing an email of a finance or human resources coworker to create a false sense of legitimacy. They then send out targeted emails to other individuals in the company to collect sensitive information they will later use to expand their access or, if damaging enough, blackmail the company with the information they have already collected internally. The best way for employees to fight this phishing attempt is to be hyper-vigilant when checking their emails. If something looks off, report it immediately to your IT administrator.
Vishing, also commonly known as Voice Phishing, is a method where an outside threat actor will call their target over the phone and attempt to extract personal or financial information immediately. Hackers will commonly use social engineering during this method to trick their targets into providing information they weren’t aware was classified. An example would be a target receiving a call from their IT department saying their account was temporarily disabled for security reasons and they need their PIN to restore access. To spot this fraudulent attempt, monitor the caller ID for users attempting to contact you. Frequently, outside threat actors won’t be able to mirror a legitimate number you are used to receiving calls from, so the number will be completely foreign.
Smishing is a phishing method entirely reliant on mobile SMS communications. In this case, an outside threat actor will send a text message to their target with a malicious link embedded in their message or look to extract valuable, sensitive information. These attacks will often include click-bait taglines such as WARNING, You have been selected, or Congratulations you just won to elicit an immediate response from their targets. To protect yourself from this type of phishing attempt, don’t respond to unknown numbers that text your device; if the offer looks too good to be true, chances are it’s a scam.
Spear Phishing is a phishing attempt where threat actors will target a specific individual or group of people within an organization. Typically, they will already have personal information for this individual or group and use it to their advantage and craft a specially designed message that immediately grabs the target’s attention. A great example of spear phishing is an attacker targeting a group of employees by impersonating pay software they are used to receiving their salaries from. In this message, a threat actor would use the details they’ve already gathered to create legitimacy in the message to their target. A great way to spot spear phishing attempts is to carefully check the sender address of any suspicious emails you may receive. Additionally, find ways to verify the message, whether calling or visiting the sender directly.
Whaling is very similar to spear phishing, except it primarily focuses on the top individuals in an organization, think C-Suite individuals. These phishing attempts will often consist of messages from top-level employees like a COO or CFO directing their subordinates to fill out a survey or submit their information for HR. Attempts like this are highly-effective since most people find it difficult to confront their superiors about suspicious messages and usually do as they are told. To defend against this type of phishing attempt, always verify the message in person or over the phone with your supervisor. Executives would much rather deal with an overly cautious employee than one who unsuspectingly submits personal information to an outside threat actor.
In conclusion, phishing attempts have skyrocketed in companies worldwide. They require only minor slip-ups and can be detrimental to an organization’s security. Threat actors have increased their efforts with these attempts since they require hardly any technical prowess to pull off. Remember, a safe rule of thumb is to always check with your IT administrators if you think a message looks suspicious. Vigilance is vital when fighting phishing attempts.
How Can Netizen Help?
Netizen ensures that security gets built-in and not bolted-on. Providing advanced solutions to protect critical IT infrastructure such as the popular “CISO-as-a-Service” wherein companies can leverage the expertise of executive-level cybersecurity professionals without having to bear the cost of employing them full time.
We also offer compliance support, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and more security-related services for businesses of any size and type.
Additionally, Netizen offers an automated and affordable assessment tool that continuously scans systems, websites, applications, and networks to uncover issues. Vulnerability data is then securely analyzed and presented through an easy-to-interpret dashboard to yield actionable risk and compliance information for audiences ranging from IT professionals to executive managers.
Netizen is an ISO 27001:2013 (Information Security Management), ISO 9001:2015, and CMMI V 2.0 Level 3 certified company. We are a proud Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor for hiring and retention of military veterans.
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