Phishing is one of the oldest and most effective types of attacks in internet history. In phishing attacks, cyber attackers intend to steal passwords, credentials, or similarly sensitive data. They do this by sending gifts, discounts, or similar tempting fake messages to the email accounts of victims.
As users will be victims when they click on the malicious links in forwarded email messages, cyber attackers can gain unauthorized access to the computer of the victims when they run infected files sent as attachments with emails.
In this article, we are going to cover everything you may want to know about phishing and much more!
What Is Phishing?
Cyber attackers generally use phishing to learn a user’s password, bank account, or credit card information. Phishing emails specially prepared by the cyber attacker will seem like it is coming from an official institution or an actual email.
Cyber attackers redirect computer users to fake websites with the help of the prepared email. Here, they trick users to provide their passwords. On the other hand, cyber attackers can gain unauthorized access to the victim’s computer when they run the files attached to these emails.
Basically, a cyber attacker prepared bait in phishing attacks and this bait aims to entrap the victims. The bait is usually in the form of compelling scenarios such as salary increase, gift, free vacation, or cash prize.
Organisations must educate and train their employees to prevent this type of cyber attack, which poses great risks for all organisations.
What Is the Importance of Phishing Attacks?
As the use of the Internet becomes more widespread employees and individuals spend more time online. They request to use the internet to access products or services. As a result of the widespread use of the internet, many critical data such as our shopping, banking transactions, financial transactions, and intra-organizational communications have been widely used on the Internet.
Naturally, this fact changed the perspective of cyber attackers and increased the number of targeted cyber attacks. Cyber attackers can lead to serious losses by targeting ignorant users with phishing methods.
Targeted phishing attacks have a great success rate. As a result of this fact, cyber attackers often use phishing attacks, which is one of the oldest and most effective methods of internet history.
Unfortunately, spear phishing attacks, which are a combination of phishing and social engineering attacks, threaten institutions as a difficult and dangerous cyber weapon in the hands of cyber attackers.
Laws define phishing attacks as a crime that is committed using both social engineering and technical infrastructure. These attacks, which are commonly carried out via email, are evolving with the popularity of today’s social networks.
Every day, these attacks reach a much larger audience. It has been shown that it plays an effective role in the spread of harmful codes such as viruses and worms.
What Is Spear Phishing?
Experts define spear phishing as targeted phishing attacks. The goal of these attacks is to steal confidential information, financial data, and similar critical data such as bank accounts of victims.
As cyber attackers can choose a random victim, they can target an individual or organisation. This is why spear phishing attacks are customized according to the victim. Cyber attackers try to obtain information such as identity information, social media accounts, and banking transactions of the employees of an organisation.
Considering that cyber attackers went a little further, they can obtain trade secrets and confidential information. When we look at the phishing attacks emerging in the internet world, we see that even the most important institutions of the world have suffered these attacks.
Cyber attackers gather information about the individual or organisation selected as the victim in spear phishing attacks. Information gathering is the first and most important step in spear phishing attacks. The names used in the email sent to the victim belong to real people.
Cyber attackers send these emails as administrators, co-workers, or people the victim knows. In addition, they choose an authorized person’s name and title who can determine/influence the content of the email. In this way, cyber attackers trick the victim by giving the impression of an email that may come in the usual flow to eliminate any suspicions.
What Is Vishing?
Vishing is a technical concept and it defines phishing attacks carried out over the phone. Cyber attackers target a victim and directly reach him or her. Cyber attackers use emotional triggers in this cyber attack type, which is carried over the phone call.
Technical support scams can be a great example of vishing attacks. The main purpose of both types of phishing attacks is stealing critical information for the user. In vishing attacks, cyber attackers spread fear by rushing the victim. They usually emphasize that serious damage may occur such as a service may stop, or data loss may occur.
In this way, cyber attackers give the impression that they want to help the victim and establish trust. Moreover, cyber attackers can trigger a sense of curiosity for a successful attack.
The effectiveness of phishing attacks has changed rapidly in recent years. They evolved into a highly automated process that may include well-defined small-scale operations or multiple actors with well-defined roles. In this way, cyber attackers create phishing kits and sell this data on the illegal internet world, Deep Web.
Every year, the number of phishing attacks is increasing. The number of SSL certificates used in the attacks also increased in parallel with the awareness training provided by the organisations for their employees.
4 Ways to Avoid Phishing Attacks
Individual users with basic technology literacy can largely avoid phishing attacks by paying attention to certain safety precautions. However, corporate, and industrial companies must thoroughly audit their host networks, servers, intra-organisational computers, storage devices, user interfaces, and remote ports.
Even a small data breach can provide an opportunity for cyber attackers for a possible phishing attack. In addition to this, it is possible to prevent corporate phishing attacks with four important techniques covering the most up-to-date cyber security solutions.
Privileged Access Management
Privileged Access Management (PAM) strengthens privileged access controls, minimizes identity theft risk, and manages security solutions, applications, servers, and routers. Unlike Identity and Access Management Systems (IAM), which grants access to a company’s applications, websites, and databases, Privileged Access Management focuses on taking control of an organisation’s internal IT environment and providing complete data security.
Some privileged accounts include user accounts, user administrator accounts, emergency accounts used by IT system administrators, domain admin accounts, root accounts, APIs, and service accounts.
Managing such privileged accounts is quite important to prevent identity-based and other malware attacks.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) ensures the protection of vital resources by minimizing various security vulnerabilities. 2FA solutions provide extra protection against theft of identity/card information, online fraud, phishing, and similar attacks. It takes security to the next level.
Even if the corporate user account is compromised, it would not be possible for cyber attackers to gain access to the critical assets of the organisation unless the employee’s smartphone or email account is also compromised. Two-Factor Authentication supports both online (SMS, email, mobile app) and offline (mobile app, HARD Protocol) authentication standards.
Dynamic Password Controller
There are accounts with administrative access to systems, hosts, and resources in corporate networks. These accounts are easily accessible through corporate interfaces such as an administrator in Windows servers, root in Linux/Unix servers, and admin in Cisco.
However, since password information for such local accounts is not managed by a central directory server such as Active Directory or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, they can pose a critical threat in terms of a corporate information breach.
Dynamic Password Controller (DPC) eliminates security vulnerabilities between the user computer and the host computer. It does this by limiting the lifetime of passwords, performing user validation and artificial intelligence-assisted calculations.
Privileged Session Manager
Privileged Session Manager (PSM) manages encrypted administrator sessions and serves as a gateway between users and target devices. PSM establishes control with the man-in-the-middle approach. It also provides data confirmation without the need for a special access portal or middleware.
The identity of the user is verified through the organisation’s existing directory service. Moreover, the entire session goes through Privileged Session Manager approval. In this way, PSM completely and quickly records all transactions, indexed data, images, videos, statistics performed during the session.
Privileged Session Manager can make intra-organisational proprietary protocols and customizable applications ready for use by assigning them to user groups via Privileged Session Manager. PSM also has support for a large number of interfaces. These are SSH/TELNET for command line uses, RDP/VNC for remote desktop connections, and SFTP for file transfer operations.
As MS Cyber Security we can help you to be more careful against phishing attacks by increasing the information security awareness of your employees. We can analyze your current standing against phishing attacks with our Information Security Awareness Trainings and Tests. We also provide special reports for the status of your employees.
You can contact us at any time to get information and receive a free quote for your organisation.