This rudimentary form of phishing contains no malicious links or attachments but serves a very important purpose for cybercriminals and scammers looking to better target victims.
I’ve talked about spear phishing attacks that often incur a lot of up-front diligence to identify who within an organization should be targeted and what details will assist with social engineering the intended response from the recipient victim. The security researchers at Barracuda have spotlighted a subset of phishing attacks that has the same purpose: baiting attacks.
Bait Attacks are initial emails with little-to-no content in them at all and are used for reconnaissance. They are intended to be used to either validate a victim’s email address as being valid or to engage in an email conversation using only a simple initial question. They are benign in function, but devious in intent.
Barracuda analyzed data from 10,500 organizations and found that the overwhelming majority of bait attacks (91%) use Gmail – likely for its ease of setting up multiple accounts and for its implied legitimacy.
Barracuda recommend a few protective measures:
- Use AI-based solutions to spot and block bait attacks
- Remove bait messages from Inboxes ASAP
- Have users undergo Security Awareness Training to teach them how to identify and report bait attacks to IT