When they see an opportunity, they exploit it — and COVID-19 is a prime example of attackers using current events to … (n.d.). Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a report, http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/cybersecurity/2015/05/13/former-fed-spear-phishing/27237155/, http://www.ic3.gov/media/2013/130625.aspx, http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-and-breaches/spear-phishing-attacks-out-of-china-targeted-source-code-intellectual-property/d/d-id/1086190?page_number=1, http://usa.kaspersky.com/about-us/press-center/in-the-news/defending-against-mobile-malware, http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/08/tech-firm-ubiquiti-suffers-46m-cyberheist/, http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/phishing-e-mails-hook-most/, http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-tips-for-spotting-a-phishing-e-mail/, http://blogs.rsa.com/anatomy-of-an-attack/, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2382970,00.asp, http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-and-breaches/epsilon-fell-to-spear-phishing-attack/d/d-id/1097119, http://us.norton.com/security_response/phishing.jsp, https://www.fbi.gov/pittsburgh/press-releases/2014/u.s.-charges-five-chinese-military-hackers-with-cyber-espionage-against-u.s.-corporations-and-a-labor-organization-for-commercial-advantage, https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1511737/000157104915006288/t1501817_8k.htm, http://news.verizonenterprise.com/2015/04/2015-data-breach-report-info/, Spearphishing meets vishing: New multi-step attack targets corporate VPNs, Phishing attack timeline: 21 hours from target to detection, Overview of phishing techniques: Brand impersonation. In a spear phishing attempt, a perpetrator needs to know some details about the victim. What’s more, Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report found that phishing is involved in 22 percent of data breaches, more than any other threat action variety. One way to do this is to simply run a search for the email or phone number provided. Retrieved from http://news.verizonenterprise.com/2015/04/2015-data-breach-report-info/. What are some Common SNMP vulnerabilities and how do you protect your network? FBI warns of increased spear phishing attacks. Note the misspelling of the words received and discrepancy as … The motives can range from economic, quick-cash reasons to more sophisticated industrial espionage, political activism, and cyber-terrorism. For example, if, in 2014, the most used spear phishing attachments used in e-mails were .exe files, cyber criminals are now using MS Word document files as they are aware that users, thanks to training, are recognizing certain extensions as more dangerous. You may see a string of emails designed to lure you into taking action. Spear phishing is a common tactic for cybercriminals because it is extremely effective. Two groups within the company were sent spear phishing emails simply titled “2011 Recruitment Plan.” Although the emails were marked as junk mail, one employee opened an email attachment that ultimately led to a form of malware being installed on the computer. (2014, May 19). Millions of customer credit card numbers were stolen. Unsurprisingly, tons of data can be found on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. The report also shares interesting findings on the number of users that still open phishing e-mails (23 percent) and attachments (11 percent) which help hackers compromise systems. Similarly, an attachment may contain viruses or malware and should never be opened unless you’re absolutely sure of the source. RSA was responsible for the cyber security of … While the majority of phishing attacks are obvious, spear phishing ones are less conspicuous. Retrieved from http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240187487/FBI-warns-of-increased-spear-phishing-attacks, Boyd, A. Here's a small sample of popular phishing emails we've seen over the years. For individuals, major email providers are stepping up their game when it comes to anti-phishing tactics. These emails were sent to different marketing companies, but always targeted employees responsible for email operations. Newer attacks have been tied to state-affiliated espionage for a cause, political or other. Some emails will only contain a link or an attachment with no other message, possibly targeting the reader’s sense of curiosity to prompt them to click. Other phishing attempts might ask you to provide your social security number, hand over credit card or banking information, or simply send some money. Spear phishing attacks could also target you on multiple messaging platforms. How Do People Feel About Cryptocurrencies? Check the landing page (URL) in any suspected e-mails. If you’re a business owner, it’s crucial to ensure your employees are educated on the topic of phishing attacks, particularly spear phishing. Economic reasons are also at the forefront of the possible motives for spear phishing attacks. Even one of largest e-mail providers for major companies like Best Buy, Citi, Hilton, LL Bean, Marriott, has been the target of a spear phishing attack that caused the stealing of customers’ data. The potential destructiveness of a spear phishing attack for a business is shown clearly in the case of Ubiquiti Networks Inc., an American network technology company for service providers and enterprises. Canada is one of the top countries at risk. Spear phishing example. Leviathan : Leviathan has sent spearphishing emails with links, often using a … Some rather concerning statistics emerged from a 2015 Intel study, which revealed 97 percent of people were unable to identify phishing emails. What is Trojan Horse malware and how can you avoid it? Spear phishing emails are carefully designed to get a single recipient to respond. Cyber attackers aim at the supply chain and its contractors and subcontractors that are in possession of valuable intellectual property; they are perceived as easier targets and are attributed to more attacks than most government agencies. No longer are the attacks conducted at random, but they are rather focused and persistent effectively to hit a specific victim or group of victims. Spear-Phishing Examples Attackers who use social engineering are adaptable, constantly changing their tactics to increase their chances of success. Instead of a mass email sent to a wide swath of people, spear phishing focuses on one particular user or organization. When attackers go after a “big fish” like a CEO, it’s called whaling. Spear Phishing . (2010, January 15). Spear-phishing targets a specific person or enterprise instead of a wide group. We explain exactly what a spear phishing attack is (with examples) and the best practices to avoid becoming a victim. Crelan Bank. An email stating that your account has been deactivated or is about to expire and you need to click a link and provide credentials. An example might be an unexpected email to a CFO from their boss asking that they transfer money to a certain account. The following example illustrates a spear phishing attack’s progression and potential consequences: A spoofed email is sent to an enterprise’s sysadmin from someone claiming to represent www.itservices.com, a database management SaaS provider. Scammers are targeting businesses all the time, but here are a few examples of some high-profile attacks. Most people chose this as the best definition of spear-phishing: The definition of spear p... See the dictionary meaning, pronunciation, and sentence examples. Sharing the information with your friends, family, and colleagues can help prevent them from becoming victims too. Examples of Whaling Attacks Because whaling attacks are so difficult to identify, many companies have fallen victim to these attacks in recent years. These could be gleaned from a previous phishing attempt, a breached account, or anywhere else they might be able to find out personal data. Reports indicate spear phishing emails might have contained a link to a site that downloaded malware, which in turn disabled antivirus software, provided remote system access, and could be used to steal passwords. Spear phishing is a more selective and effective scheme than traditional phishing plots. They could offer great deals, tell you you owe or are owed money, or that an account is about to be frozen. This isn’t something that should be relied upon, but it can act as a backup. It might include a link to a login page where the scammer simply harvests your credentials. These attackers often … During litigations, a spear phishing e-mail was sent to a restricted group of the U.S. company employees involved in the litigation. Clearly, spear phishing poses as a real threat, as it can bypass normal technical anti-threat barriers and exploits users to infiltrate systems. Cyber-criminals are increasing their schemes to exploit any personal information discovered from social engineering. At a minimum, through awareness training, users can learn to. To stop spear phishing attacks requires getting everyone to see that today’s integrated security posture is not enough to overcome this threat. Spear phishing is an email spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to sensitive information. Some of the most significant U.S. incidents, related to spear phishing, show how malicious hackers can employ different tactics to gain access even to the most secure and high-level information; these real-life examples show how any organization or individual can be a target and, unfortunately, a victim. Tactics are also slightly changing as shown from recent spear phishing statistics. Spear phishing is one of the most common sources of data breaches today. Of course, other spear phishing incidents have taken place over the years; but the variety of targets shows how spear phishing is an effective method for targeting several industries and for aiding malicious hackers in a variety of aims. Use strong passwords and a password manager. Below is an example of an eFax document that was included in the spear phishing campaign. With the help of machine learning techniques, Gmail claims to block 99.9% of spam emails. According to Proofpoint’s 2020 State of the Phish (PDF) report, 65 percent of US businesses were victims of successful phishing attacks in 2019. Cybercriminals do the same with the intention to resell confidential data to governments and private companies. Following are some of the predominant varieties of spear-phishing attacks around us. Once opened, the mail installed malware on the recipients’ computers, resulting in the theft of almost 3,000 emails and more than 800 attachments. For example, the FBI has warned of spear phishing scams where the emails appeared to be from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Retrieved from http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/cybersecurity/2015/05/13/former-fed-spear-phishing/27237155/, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Plex vs Kodi: Which streaming software is right for you? Whaling. Alcoa. What is Clickjacking and what can you do to prevent it? Most of the large spear phishing breaches have targeted wire transfers and financial transactions, although there are some examples that I’ll be discussing that included data breaches. Given that the company provides e-mail marketing services, this goes to show that any organization, even those that make the security of their communication system the center of their business, is at risk of such a threat. The criminal targets a specific individual or organization and uses focused personalized messages to steal data that goes beyond personal credit card information. The fraudsters persuaded a town employee to provide secure login information. Spear phishing is a way of obtaining information through deceptive, more personalized e-mail messages and social engineering that is finely tailored to the target. (n.d.). A huge targeted attack occurred in 2015 when up to 100 million emails were pushed out to Amazon customers who had recently placed an order. If spear phishing is targeted usually at employees or small businesses (the ‘fish’), then the ‘whale’ in whaling is the ‘Big Fish’ of a high-level member of an organization. In what seems like an international spy movie scenario, the Chinese military carried out phishing attacks on Alcoa, an American aluminum supplier. The goal might be high-value money transfers or trade secrets. Amazon is another company that has so many users, the chances of hooking one through a general phishing attempt is worth the effort. 15 best bitcoin wallets for 2020 (that are safe and easy to use), 11 Best Data Loss Prevention Software Tools. Adversaries may send spearphishing emails with a malicious link in an attempt to gain access to victim systems. This is often referred to as “whaling” and is a type of CEO fraud. Luckily the actual company systems were not compromised, but the incident shows the relative ease with which a spear phisher can trick victims into performing actions directly using impersonation and information widely available on the internet to produce realistic spoofed e-mails. If you have suspicions about an email or other message, don’t visit the site or call the number provided. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. We’ll go into these in more detail below, but below is a list of actionable steps you can take to combat successful spear phishing attempts. Restaurant staff gets an email from a sender who wishes to place an order. Spear phishing can be the cause of huge financial losses, both for individuals and businesses. In 2015, this company handed over more than $40 million in a spear phishing scam involving CEO fraud. (2011, April 1). Millions of developers and companies build, ship, and maintain their software on GitHub — the largest and most advanced development platform in the world. Phishing comes in many forms, from spear phishing, whaling and business-email compromise to clone phishing, vishing and snowshoeing. For example, infiltrating a bank, hospital or university to steal data that severely compromise the organization. His interests include computers, mobile devices and cyber security standards. While scammers target all sizes of businesses, attacks against small businesses are becoming increasingly popular. Put your team to the test. By then, hackers had obtained some of their customers’ data that was exposed in the attack, told Mathew Schwartz, an InformationWeek information security reporter. In this attack, the hacker attempts to manipulate the target. As much as 80% of all malware attacks come from phishing attempts using different variations of social engineering techniques, as per the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) 2015. Scammers will often take advantage of the current climate and recent events to create their phishing lures. While companies see huge losses from these attacks, both directly and indirectly, the impact on an individual can be even more severe. Once open, a backdoor was installed through a vulnerability in Adobe Flash, and the phishing activity successfully harvested credentials, as confirmed the RSA FraudAction Research Labs. It's different from ordinary phishing in that with whaling, the emails or web pages serving the scam take on a more severe or formal look and are usually targeting someone in particular. However, you should contact the company via a phone number or email from its actual website, not the contact information found in the email. For example, posing as someone who went to your old school or is a member of your religious group could get you to open up. Whaling. That email will use fear-mongering to get the target to call a number or … Spear phishing is advanced targeted email phishing. The email may be asking for company details such as financial records or corporate credit card numbers. They can also do damage in other areas, such as stealing secret information from businesses or causing emotional stress to individuals. When you consider how many personal details someone could uncover about you on the internet these days, it’s really not that difficult for someone to pose as a trusted party and trick you into handing over some additional info. Simply don’t click links or attachments if you have any suspicions whatsoever. Spear Phishing Real Life Examples If you receive an email or SMS asking you to give details such as your address, social security number, or banking info in the body of an email or text message, it is very likely a phishing attempt. The cybercriminals masqueraded as a board member and sent out emails to several employees. What’s more, the study found that one-third of attacks targeted just one mailbox. What most people don’t know is the DNC email system was breached through spear phishing emails. When you think about how much information can be found on social media, it’s easy to see how someone could quickly earn your trust by simply stating a common interest or posing as a company you have a history with. © 2020 Comparitech Limited. A common spear phishing scam in companies involves the scammer posing as a company executive and requesting that an unsuspecting employee wire money to an account belonging to the fraudster. Cybercriminals do the same with the intention to resell confidential data to governments and private companies. Some try to get you to click on a link that could lead to a website that downloads malware (for example, ransomware), a fake website that requests a password, or a site that contains advertisements or trackers. Brecht has several years of experience as an Information Technician in the military and as an education counselor. Get the latest news, updates & offers straight to your inbox. Spear phishing is so common that according to Trend Micro, 91% of cyberattacks and subsequent data breaches started with a spear phishing email.. In the same years and as early as 2010, other spear phishing attacks that were traced to China involved going after source code on many victims’ machines using malware to access Google, Adobe, and other U.S. companies’ system. Be mindful of e-mails that just don’t sound right. Usually, the intended targets of spear phishing are executives whose info is worth a lot of money. Utilizing a strong password is important as it can help prevent other attacks such as brute force attacks. Phishing. (2013, June 25). For example, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted lots of schemes centering around government benefits and job opportunities. Security awareness shall be the first line of defense against any sort of phishing or more so spear phishing attacks. You may see a string of emails designed to lure you into taking action. In other words, you are only as secure as the weakest link; thus, employees need to be trained properly when it comes to network security. Corporations […]. Thousands of e-mail messages and attachments were stolen from employees’ computers, including information on the transaction. Security firm RSA was targeted in a successful spear phishing attempt in early 2011. We’ll then offer some tips to help you ensure you don’t get caught out. If you’re ever asked to change a password, never follow the link in the email or text message. In a recent scam, the town of Franklin, Massachusetts fell victim to a phishing attack and lost over $500,000 to scammers. In January 2015, Charles Harvey Eccleston, a former Energy Department, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission employee, has been accused of sending spear phishing e-mails to his former colleagues at Energy to embed spyware and malware on government computers, as told Aaron Boyd, Senior Staff Writer from Federal Times. The links that the cybercriminal want us to click on will usually be concealed in a button … Spear phishing is a targeted form of phishing attack which involves tricking an individual or business into giving up information that can be used as part of a scam. 9 Ways To Make The File Sharing Service Safer To Use. Cybercriminals tend to go after smaller companies hoping to get info on larger companies that they have relationships with, as per Symantec key findings. Unified Endpoint Management: Guide & UEM Tools, Insider Threat Detection Guide: Mitigation Strategies & Tools, Synthetic Monitoring Guide: Types, Uses, Packages & Tools, 11 Best Free TFTP Servers for Windows, Linux and Mac, 12 Best NetFlow Analyzers & Collector Tools for 2020, Best Bandwidth Monitoring Tools – Free Tools to Analyze Network Traffic Usage, Watch your Plex library in Kodi with the Plex Kodi addon, How to set up Plex on Chromecast and get the most out of it. Using information freely available on social media and company websites, criminals can gather enough information to send personalized trustworthy emails to victims. 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In perhaps the most high-profile case in recent years, volunteers and employees of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign fell victim to spear phishing attacks. Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report – Q&A. Companies like Cofense, KnowBe4, and Webroot provide security awareness training to help prevent such attacks. The Chinese army has been accused of multiple spear phishing attempts aimed at stealing trade secrets from US companies. Is Facebook profiting from illegal streaming? But Amazon users should watch out for spear phishing attacks too. Spear phishing attempts have been used to swindle individuals and companies out of millions of dollars. The perpetrator typically already knows some information about the target before making a move. Phishing schemes typically involve a victim being tricked into giving up information that can be later used in some kind of scam. 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