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Dodging 4 Hidden Dangers of Phishing Scams

Posted by Geraldine Hunt on Thu, Jan 6th, 2022

About one in ten emails are part of a phishing attack. Since phishing attacks are all about deception, that adds up to a lot of trickery and fraud.  Fraud and deception usually accompany malevolent deeds that harm the victims that fall for them.  Where there is phishing, there is usually some type of hidden danger lurking.  Below, we have outlined some of the most prevalent dangers that your organization could potentially experience from a phishing attack and how to combat them.

Ransomware or other Malware Attacks

Ransomware was a menace that some thought was on the downslide.  Not anymore.  According to a recen study, the average ransomware payment was over $500,000 in 2021. Part of this is attributed to ever-rising, Ransomware-as-a-Service.  An example of a Ransomware strain to watch out for in 2022, is BlackMatter Ransomware. BlackMatter ransomware is a ransomware-as-a-service tool that first appeared on the scene over the summer of 2021. The BlackMatter ransomware tool was used against numerous U.S based companies with extortion demands ranging from less than $100,000 up to $15 million. 

Unsurprisingly 92.4 percent of malware is delivered via email.  In order to avoid malware infestations carried out through phishing, it is imperative to have an email security solution that incorporates malware protection.  A solution such as SpamTitan that incorporates double antivirus protection is an excellent way to combat these threats.  Another technology tool to help eradicate malware attachments is the next-generation solution of sandboxing.  This allows users to open suspect attachments in an isolated environment.  There they can either be detonated or confirmed safe.  While many email security vendors do not offer sandboxing within their pricing model, it is part of the standard offering with SpamTitan Cloud.

Email Address Spoofing

You get an urgent email from the company CEO that a last-minute wire transfer must be made in order to complete an acquisition.  What do you do?  These types of situations occur daily as spoofing is now commonplace within corporate email environments.  It’s natural to wonder how cybercriminals can so easily spoof enterprise email accounts.  One must remember that the core email protocols were created in the 1980s when the internet was a trusting place.  No one conceptualized the malicious tactics that cybercriminals that threaten our institutions today. 

Traditional spam filtering has a hard time stopping well-conceived email address spoofing as these types of attacks are targeted and well designed.  Often the verbiage contained within these emails matches the communicative culture of the targeted organization as hackers spend weeks if not months learning the email behavior of their prospective victims.  The best approach is to legitimize the sending email address.  Many assume that DNS-hosted SPF records can stop spoofing alone but that is no longer the case.  You need the complete package of SPF, DKIM and DMARC records to truly authenticate email origin.  Unlike SPF records, it is difficult to create DKIM and DMARC records on your own.  That is why SpamTitan includes DMARC verification as part of its solution suite.  Simply use the DMARC generator to create your own records. 

Pharming Attacks

Cybercriminals are constantly adapting their techniques to more effectively infiltrate our devices and networks. Pharming is a newer, more complicated technique. Similar to phishing tactics, pharming uses fake websites to steal personal information. Unlike phishing, pharming doesn’t require users to take action — they are redirected to the false websites without even knowing it.

You get an email from your bank asking you to confirm a recent financial transaction that seems suspect.  You get an email from PayPal asking you to reset your account or your insurance company wants you to confirm your profile settings due to a recent application failure they experienced.  Everything about the email seems genuine and the embedded link when click seems to take you to the actual website you are accustomed to seeing.  All of this, of course, is a carefully crafted mirage.  While the look and feel of the email and link may seem accurate, the URL destination is phony.  Unfortunately, users constantly fall for these types of attacks. 

Criminals use pharming attacks to capture login credentials that they then use for malevolent reasons.  This is where a modern-day email security solution comes into play, one that uses real analytical intelligence to distinguish reality from fabrication.

Display Name Spoofing

This type of spoofing is more prominent than email address spoofing because anyone can do it.  This rudimentary approach simply requires one to create email addresses using public email services such as Gmail or Outlook.  While the email address looks nothing like the actual one it is trying to emulate, the display name still shows the name of the spoofed individual.  This could be the department manager or school principal.  These types of attacks target the low hanging fruit of your enterprise. 

While these elementary attacks rarely garner big rewards for scammers, they do hamper productivity as users try to distinguish who actually sent an email.  These types of attacks can lead users to ignore an important email in the future. The most effective way to combat this type of threat is to train your users so that they can easily identify these crude spoofing attempts. Phishing is the primary means that hackers use to steal money, credentials, and integrity from users within your organization.  Do not underestimate the dangers associated with these attacks.  Make sure you have the best tools available to keep your organization safe from these menacing attacks.

When it comes to protecting your organization from phishing scams, training your employees to recognize bogus emails is a great place to start, but as the sophistication of these targeted attacks increase, it’s not enough.

Phishing Protection to Prevent Whaling and Spear Phishing 

With the SpamTitan Cloud Email Protection, it provides a dedicated solution that fully protects your network and every recipient within the organization. SpamTitan Cloud provides phishing protection to prevent whaling and spear-phishing by scanning all inbound emails in real-time. SpamTitan Cloud searches for key indicators in the email header, domain information, and content. SpamTitan also performs reputation analysis on all links (including shortened URLs) contained in emails and block malicious emails before being delivered to the end-user. Read about SpamTitan Plus  How SpamTitan protects from phishing attempts:

  • Multilayered anti spam analysis using: Sender Policy Framework (SPF), SURBL's, RBL's Bayesian analysis and more.
  • Advanced URL scanning in emails
  • AI driven phishing protection with the ability to detect and block malicious spear-phishing emails from existing or new malware strains. 
  • Heuristic rules to detect phishing based on message headers et al. These are updated frequently to address new threats.
  • Easy synchronization with Azure Active Directory and LDAP.
  • Spam Confidence Levels can be applied by the user, user-group and domain.
  • Creation of allow or block lists of senders/IP addresses.
  • Infinitely scalable
  • Suitbale for MSPs, SMBs & Schools & Universites.
  • Advanced sandboxing protection

The combination of these features ensures SpamTitan protects Office365 users and businesses from phishing, business email compromise (BEC), and ransomware attacks. System Administrators need to make sure their email infrastructure is secure by layering in a dedicated secure messaging and email filtering solution like SpamTitan to protect against advanced persistent threats.

Download Guide: How to Reduce the Risk of Phishing & Ransomware

Take a look at the new SpamTitan Plus – AI-driven anti-phishing solution.

SpamTitan Plus provides leading edge, AI driven anti-phishing solution with the newest “zero-day” threat protection and intelligence. SpamTitan Plus provides better coverage, significant uplift in phishing link detections, faster detection speeds with the lowest false positive rate of any product. Sign up for a free demo at a time that suits you.

SpamTitan Plus Phishing protection

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