Security analysts are uncovering a troubling rise in sophistication and cunning in targeted phishing attempts – also known as “spear phishing” – where attackers are actually adapting their tactics to exploit weaknesses revealed in common business worker behavior. Most obvious and easy to exploit is the fact that many businesses “shut down” on Fridays, and most workers, including corporate IT, disengage from the job and stop reading emails. Attackers savvy to this behavior trend send out the usual phishing emails with URL’s that are actually clean at the time of delivery, allowing them to arrive in user inboxes unmolested by corporate malware detection platforms. The attacker bides his time and waits to compromise the websites that were linked in the phishing emails until the last moment, say early Monday morning, hopefully just before users start to read the email that arrived over the weekend. Because the email managed to make it past corporate filters, the user wrongly assumes it’s safe, clicks the URL and his or her computer is then compromised through the usual malware attacks.
What this means for you:
Phishing emails are becoming increasingly harder to distinguish from the real thing, and it takes a trained eye to spot the best fakes. The most common phishing tactics are to email you about the following:
- Your account has been accessed by a third party
- (Bank Name) Internet Banking Customer Service Message
- Security Measures
- Verify your activity
- Account security Notification
When you receive an email like the above, and it appears to have come from a company or institution with which you work, examine the source of the email carefully to make sure the links actually go where they say they go. (See our previous news item Ransomware Targets Skype Users for more tips on how to tell if an email is legitimate or not.) If there’s any doubt at all, don’t use the links provided, but type them in or use a bookmark you created to ensure you are going to the proper website, or call a known, publicly-available phone number for the company to verify the request with a real human.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net