The use of impersonation in phishing attacks helps to establish credibility and a sense of ease. New data shows exactly how the bad guys are using this tactic to their advantage.
We’ve covered impersonation scams before where cybercriminals pretend to be your CEO, hospital personnel, or even the government. New data from cybersecurity vendor Agari highlights the impersonation trends they found by looking at email throughout the second half of 2020. 63% percent of phishing emails impersonate trusted brands (with Microsoft continuing to top the list). This breaks down in the following manner:
- Brand display impersonation (62.6%)– where the display name looks to be UPS, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.
- Individual display name impersonation (22.1%) – where the display name represents a known individual (e.g., the CEO, a counterpart in your supply chain, someone in Finance, etc.)
- Lookalike domains (10.9%) – where the bad guy hopes you won’t notice the slightly-off domain name (e.g., microsofts.com)
- Compromised accounts (4.4%) – where a legitimate but compromised account is used to send the phishing attack
Impersonation is a powerful tool of the phisher; it allows them to instantly disarm someone through familiarity. Employees need to be taught through Security Awareness Training that they should always (ALWAYS!) scrutinize email senders to be absolutely certain emails requesting any kind of action (open an attachment, click a link, respond with some information, etc.) are actually from whom the sender name says it’s from.