Infoworld recently highlighted spearphishing which is “a targeted approach to phishing that is proving nefariously effective, even against the most seasoned security pros.” The November 9, 2015 report was entitled “10 reasons why phishing attacks are nastier than ever” including the fact that spearphising is sent by some you know which is very different that the Nigerian prince:
They often appear to be from a boss, team leader, or some other authority figure up the management chain to ensure the victim opens the email and is more likely to do whatever the email says.
The email could be from an outside, sound-alike email account meant to resemble the authoritative person’s personal email account. After all, who hasn’t received a work-related email from a co-worker who accidentally used his or her personal account? We accept it as a common mistake.
It might arrive from a sound-alike account name from a popular public email server (Hotmail, Gmail, and so on), with the sender claiming to be using this previously unknown account because they are locked out of their work email. Again, who hasn’t been through this before?
But more likely than not, the fake phishing email appears to arrive from the other person’s real work email address, either because the phishing organization is able to send fake email origination addresses from the outside, or it has successfully compromised the other person’s email account. The latter is becoming the most popular attack method — who wouldn’t click on a link sent by their boss?
The better prepared and educated the less likely that employees will fall prey to phishing and spearphishing, but when you read the list maybe training will not help:
- The attack is handcrafted by professional criminals
- The attack is sent by someone you know
- That attack includes a project you are working on
- Your attacker has been monitoring your company’s email
- Your attacker can intercept and change emails as needed
- Your attacker uses custom or built-in tools to subvert antivirus software
- Your attacker uses military-grade encryption to tunnel your data home
- Your attacker covers their tracks
- Your attacker has been in your environment for years
- Your attacker is not afraid of getting caught
Phishing and spearphishing are growing so being better educated is critical to protect all businesses.