When most people think of cyber-attacks and data breaches, they think of a hooded hacker hammering away at the keyboard in a dark corner somewhere using complex commands to get past firewalls and steal passwords.
The reality is that most breaches come from imposter emails, or phishing emails. And unfortunately, the perpetrators of this simple scam don’t have to know a lick of code to pull it off.
According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), 2016 was the worst year for phishing in history with reported phishing attacks increasing 65% over those of 2015. In addition, according to Wombat Security’s 2016 State of the Phish report, spear-phishing attacks (attacks which contain personalized information about your or the supposed sender), increased 22% from 2015.
Given the success of phishing attacks and the ease of which cyber criminals can effectively breach networks through the use of them, phishing emails will continue to be a growing problem for business and consumers alike. Here are just a few examples of phishing emails in use over the past year:
The Urgent Request
Phishing emails play to our innate psychology. By impersonating a person or organization with a high level of authority—and urging immediate action—these emails are dangerously persuasive. Whether these emails threaten loss, punishment or added risk, researchers tell us that urging immediate action changes our focus to the singular task and, in the process, lowers our guard.
1. "Restart Your Membership"
2. "Update Your Official Record"
3. "Click to Learn More"
5. "Confirm Your Account"
7. "Suspended Account"
Unexpected Refunds & Payments
It's against our every instinct to ignore free money, and hackers exploit this with refund offers.
8. "Tax Refund"
9. "Refund Due to System Error"
10. "Click to See Your Revised Salary"
Spear-Phishing emails may not have the stolen logos and email templates of phishing emails, but what they do have can be even more dangerous: inside information. Spear-phishers study their victims in advance, learning names, organizational structure, and even workplace culture to try to keep the victim from raising red flags.
11. Sent "From" Recipient's Bank
12. Sent "From" Recipient's CFO
13. Sent "From" Recipient's CEO
14. Sent "From" Recipient's CEO
15. Sent "From" Recipient's CEO
Two More Examples:
Whaling emails, or spear-phishing emails targeting high-level executives, masquerade as a critical business email from a legitimate person of authority. These emails play on our respect for these individuals and take advantage of the lack of formality that sometimes accompanies their requests.
16. Sent to VP "From" Their CEO
17. Sent to Controller "From" Their CEO (Also CCing Their Accountant)
All It Takes is One Click
While some phishing emails attempt to get you to hand over sensitive information, others only need one click to give the hacker access to your secure systems. If you've recently clicked on a sensitive email or want to protect your company and employees from phishing, contact EDTS Cyber today.