Modern Phishing Attacks; Fingerprints of Social Engineering

People are increasingly sharing their personal information online, thanks to the rapid expansion of internet usage. As a result, malicious actors have access to a vast amount of personal information and financial transactions. Phishing is a very successful type of cybercrime that allows malicious actors to fool people and obtain sensitive information.

Phishing is a social engineering attack in which a phisher tries to persuade users to divulge sensitive information by impersonating a public or trustworthy institution in an automated pattern, in the hopes that the user would believe the message and reveal the victim’s sensitive information to the attacker.

To reduce an organization’s attack surface, a thorough understanding is needed of what factors increase the attack surface, in this case, phishing. Organizations have many resources that can aid them in this matter. One option is to partner with an industry specialist like cyberpion.com who has the experience and equipped workforce to monitor your environment in order to reduce your expanding attack surface.

Exposing the Fingerprints

The phisher decides on the targets and begins obtaining information about the target. Phishers gather information on their victimsin order to entice them by exploiting their psychological vulnerabilities. This information could include things like a person’s name, e-mail address, or the company’s customers. Victims could potentially be chosen at random, either by mass mailings or by gathering information from social media or other sources. Anyone with a bank account and access to the Internet could be a phishing target. Financial institutions, retail sectors such as eBay and Amazon, and internet service providers are among the businesses targeted by phishers.

Phishing attacks are typically preliminary attacks to either gauge an environment’s susceptibility to attacks or to open the door for more advanced malware to be ushered into an organization. Organizations are vulnerable to security breaches if they fail to follow basic cybersecurity rules, a concept that is becoming characterized as ‘cyber hygiene.’ According to recent research, weak or stolen passwords were used in over 80% of breaches; because access to corporate networks and applications is increasingly via corporate mobile devices or employee personal devices, poor cyber hygiene at an individual level does have a direct impact on enterprise security.

How can we resolve this dilemma?

Human-based solutions, which educate end-users on how to spot phishing and avoid falling for the bait, are the best first line of defense against Phishing. By far the most effective countermeasure for avoiding and preventing phishing attempts is human education.

Even if it does not presume perfect protection, awareness, and human training are the first defense approaches in the proposed methodology for fighting phishing. End-user education minimizes phishing attack vulnerability and complements other technical measures.

The second line of defense is technical solutions, which include preventing the attack at an early stage, such as at the vulnerability level, to prevent the threat from materializing at the user’s device, thereby reducing human exposure, and detecting the attack once it has been launched through the network or at the end-user device.

This includes using specialized procedures to track down the attacker’s origin. These methods can be coupled to produce considerably more powerful anti-phishing defenses.

There are two basic ways to detect and stop phishing attempts that have been proposed: non-content-based solutions and content-based solutions. Blacklists and whitelists are non-content-based approaches that classify false emails or webpages based on information that is not included in the email or webpage.

Stopping phishing sites through blacklist and whitelist procedures, in which a list of recognized URLs and sites is kept and the website under investigation is compared to the list to determine whether it is a phishing or authentic site. Content-based approaches categorize a page or an email based on the information included within its content. Machine Learning, heuristics, and visual comparisons are used in content-based solutions.

The long road ahead

It is better to know where your organization is lacking and have the time and resources to do something about it than to try to look back in the aftermath of a cyberattack, trying to compile a postmortem. Partnering with specialists in this field will truly go a long way towards effectively safeguarding your systems and environments.

PRIYA JAMES is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Certified Ethical Hacker, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Author at GBHackers On Cyber Security

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