Phishing attacks are getting harder to spot, especially as more attackers realize the value of targeted, well-crafted phishing attacks, according to Johannes Ullrich, the dean of research at the SANS Technology Institute. Ullrich recently joined the CyberWire to discuss a recent spate of spearphishing attacks targeting the financial industry. He explained that scammers try to slip malicious emails into normal business processes, so employees don’t even suspect that they’re dealing with a potential attack.
“One thing that's always sort of not clear to users about phishing is that most of the phishing attempts are pretty easy to recognize and just delete the email, but that there are hidden among all of these phishing emails that you receive, some that are different and that you may actually fall for,” Ullrich said.
He cited a particular case in which LoanDepot was targeted with PDF documents that claimed to come from a title agency. The PDFs contained links to a credential-stealing site that posed as the company’s cloud-based email service. If the attacker had succeeded in hacking a corporate email account, they could have used it for further phishing and business email compromise attacks.
Ullrich said one of the best defenses against these attacks is two-factor authentication, because it can make it harder for attackers to make use of stolen credentials. Another defensive measure is employee education, especially if it uses examples of real, sophisticated attacks.
“Yes, you know, user education helps,” Ullrich said. “I think another thing that you should do is in your awareness education, don't just use these fairly-easy-to-recognize emails. But, you know, show people, hey, last week, we did receive one of these emails. And that's actually, I think, one of the things that I'm missing a lot, in particular sort of from the financial industry and such, that a lot of these attempts aren't shared.”
In LoanDepot’s case, nobody fell for the scam, but the company decided to share the details of the attack so other companies can avoid falling victim to it. Ullrich said the industry as a whole will benefit if more companies take this approach.
“And I think that helps others then to protect themselves because now I can show my users this is an attack that even a competitor or not our company did receive,” he continued. “So be ready for it. They're not just using these simple emails full of typos that aren't really of any interest to you.”
New-school security awareness training with realistic phishing simulations can help your employees identify both simple and sophisticated attacks.
The CyberWire has the story: https://thecyberwire.com/podcasts/cw-podcasts-daily-2019-10-22.html