Posts Tagged Phishing Scams

Most Common Social Engineering Attacks

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How To Identify Signs Of A Phishing Attempt?

Organizations of all sizes are subjected to regular, highly sophisticated phishing attempts. Expecting IT and security teams to identify and combat all phishing attacks solely through technology is impractical. Phishing can take many forms, but it is essentially any email attack that is aimed to get the recipient to take a specific action. Phishing emails are now being meticulously researched and concocted to target specific receivers. So, how can you raise awareness about it and train your team to recognize a phishing email?

Phishing emails frequently include a variety of red flags that, if detected by the receiver, can prevent the attack from succeeding. A few red flags as mentioned below suggest the authenticity of any email: –

  1. Addressing, greeting, and context of the email: When reading a phishing mail, the first thing that generally raises suspicion is the words, tone, and figure of speech. In most of the mails, someone impersonating as a coworker may suddenly becomes overly familiar, or a family member may become a little more professional.
  2. Unfamiliar looking email ids, URIs: Looking for suspicious email ids, URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers), and domain names is another simple approach to spot a potential phishing scam. It’s recommended to double-check the originating email ids against previous similar correspondence done. If the email contains a link, hover the pointer over the link to see what pops up. Don’t click if the domain names don’t match the links.
  3. Threats or high level of importance: Any email that threatens unpleasant repercussions should be viewed with caution. Another strategy used by criminals is to convey a sense of urgency to encourage, or even demand, urgent action from the receiver in order to confuse them. The fraudster expects that by reading the email quickly, the content will not be thoroughly reviewed, allowing additional phishing-related irregularities to go undetected.
  4. Attachments are the root cause of all evils: Be wary of emails with attachment(s) from an unknown sender. When the recipient did not request or expect to receive a file from the sender, the attachment should not be opened. If the attached file contains a file extension that you have never heard of, be cautious. You can flag it for an anti-virus scan before opening it.
  5. Irrelevant follow-ups: In a follow up email of some previous correspondence, if the correspondence requests something unusual, could be a sign of fraudulent communication. For example, if an email purports to be from the IT team and requests you to install a program or click a link to patch your asset whereas all patching is typically handled centrally. It is a strong indication that you’ve received a phishing email and should not follow the instructions.
  6. Concise and precise: While many phishing emails will be crammed with information in order to provide a false sense of security, others will be sparse in order to capitalize on their uncertainty. A scammer may send an email impersonating a familiar connection with some irrelevant text, for example – “Are you up for a profitable business venture with me?” and an attachment “Business Proposal”. These kinds of emails are usually sent to 9 to 6 working professionals who are looking to make side-income apart from their primary profession.
  7. Recipient didn’t initiate the email thread: As phishing emails are unsolicited, a common red flag is to inform the receiver that he or she has won a reward. The recipient can be lured to qualify for a prize if they reply to the email, or will receive a discount if they click on a link or open an attachment. There is a significant likelihood that the email is questionable if the receiver did not initiate the dialogue by opting in to receive marketing materials or newsletters.
  8. PII (Personally Identifiable Information) requested: When an attacker creates a false landing page that users are directed to via a link in an official-looking email, often some sort of credentials, payment information, or other personal information is asked.
  9. Grammatical errors: The use of poor grammar and spelling is another prevalent symptom that raises a red flag. As most firms have the spell check feature turned on in their email client, you’d expect emails from a professional source to be free of errors in language and spelling.

Sifting through the numerous reports to eliminate false positives is difficult and cumbersome. So, how can a business prevent phishing emails and spot phishing attacks? One strategy is to give priority to notifications from individuals who have a history of correctly recognizing phishing messages. These prioritized reports from employees help the SOC (Security Operations Center) team quickly respond to possible phishing attempts. This reduces the risk to individuals and business partners who could fall prey to such phishing campaigns.

To know more about various cyber-attacks and methods to prevent them, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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Most Commonly Clicked Phishing Email Subject Lines

18th Oct 2017

Phishing emails with clickbait subject lines are increasingly being used to elude security filters and gain access to computer systems. According to Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, two-thirds of all malware were installed via email attachments in 2016. 60% of malware were packaged in JavaScript attachments, while 26% were packaged in malicious macros embedded in Microsoft Office documents.

To avoid any phishing attacks you need to keep pace with the hackers who are coming up with dynamic new ways for launching a cyber-attack.  Email is the most widely used channel for a phishing attack because it is relatively easier to dupe people by sending fraudulent emails and trap them. They disguise as legitimate persons or companies and through fraudulent emails, direct users to a fake website in order to request for sensitive information and credentials.

These phishing emails, generally use subject lines, which encourage users to open email and click on link in it. Here we have listed some commonly clicked phishing email subject lines for you to take notice.

Social Media Email Subject lines –

  • Free Pizza – Who wouldn’t want one, but it comes at the cost of security breach. Hackers tend to play with human psyche as the word FREE is always appealing, and when the receiver opens the mail, they exploit it for their own benefits.
  • A message from your friend – Hackers sometimes use social engineering tactics to find out names of your close friends and relatives. They impersonate your acquaintances and send you an email which contains malware, to access your private information.
  • Reset Password
  • New message
  • Login alert
  • Unread Message
  • New Voice message
  • Account Validation Required

General Email Subject Lines –

  • Security Alert
  • UPS Label Delivery 1ZBE312TNY00015011
  • Urgent Action Required
  • BREAKING: United Airlines Passenger Dies from Brain Haemorrhage – VIDEO
  • A Delivery Attempt was made
  • All Employees: Update your Healthcare Info
  • Unusual sign-in activity
  • Your Bank Account will be Deactivated: Online Banking ALERT
  • Ready for your beach vacay?
  • You have won a Lottery
  • Direct Deposit of payment in your account
  • Bank transfer of 75000 USD
  • Your order #335515 placed on Sunday is paid.

What are the ways to avoid Phishing emails?

Educate yourselves and your employees about the phishing techniques and cognize them about ways to identify dubious mails. Do not click on random links sent in an email from an unauthorized sender, and to verify a site’s security, ensure that the site’s URL begins with ‘https’. Also avoid entering any personal information unless you are cent percent sure that the mail is sent by a trusted sender. Also make sure that you install an antivirus software on your system and use high quality firewalls.

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How Can Organizations Guard Against Phishing Scams?

23 August, 2016

Business organizations are a worthwhile target for the hackers to carry out phishing scams. Whether it is to steal passwords, employee details or any other sensitive data, just a single click from an ignorant employee is sufficient to give out the information sought by the hackers. Though most phishing emails are detected by spam filters, it is important for the employees to understand the risks and consequences to avoid falling victim to such attacks.

Listed below are some steps organizations should take to guard against phishing scams:

Initiate A Security Awareness Program

The reason why phishing attacks have a high success rate is because they target the end users, i.e. people who have little or no technical knowledge about data security. Therefore, educating your employees about this aspect can help to decrease the probability of a potential data breach. As phishing attacks mainly involve a fake email, malicious attachment or ad, unsolicited friend request on social media etc., security awareness program will help your employees identify such suspicious activities more easily.

Keep Software Regularly Updated

Though security software do not offer complete protection against phishing attacks, they can prevent application downloads or website redirects that seem to be potentially dangerous. Hence, it is important to install and update anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software on all the computers in the organization. The same rule applies to the operating system and other programs installed on the systems. Keeping the software patched will protect you against the latest security threats and vulnerabilities.

Use Layered Security

Make sure your organization’s confidential information is protected by multiple layers of security. With this, even if a phishing attack is successful, the hackers would not be able to gain access to all the data stored on the victim’s computer system. Use secure user IDs and passwords, followed by data encryption, access control protocols, user activity monitoring and other such types of layered security.

Follow Best Password Practices

Encourage your employees to follow the best practices when it comes to maintaining confidentiality of their official email accounts. Make sure they create strong passwords and change them at frequent intervals. Also, the login credentials should be stored in an encrypted format in the computer system. By combining difficult and lengthy passwords with two-factor authentication, you can considerably reduce the consequences of a phishing attack.

For more tips on preventing and managing phishing attacks, feel free to contact Centex Technologies. We can be reached at (855) 375 – 9654.

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