Monthly Archives

June 2021

How to Spot a Phishing Attack

By | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Would you know if you were the subject of a phishing attack? Many people claim that they’d be able to tell right away if they received an email from an illegitimate source. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be 1.5 million new phishing websites every month. A 65% increase in attacks in one year! Hackers would have moved on to the next idea for swindling people out of their identities and money.   

 

Unfortunately, hackers are using phishing attacks every day. Why? Because they work! Phishing emails take very little effort to create, and, if they get results, they can bring in a lot of money. 

 

So, how do you spot a phishing attack and avoid becoming a victim? Let’s go over some key elements of phishing attempts so you can be prepared before you become a victim.
 

Look for these red flags:
 

Sender Email Address: Always check to make sure that the email address is legitimate. Amateur hackers will send things from Gmail or Hotmail accounts and hope you don’t notice. More sophisticated hackers will closely mimic an actual email domain, like amazonprime.com rather than amazon.com. Double check the email address before responding, clicking, or opening, even if the from name appears correct. 

 

Discrepancies in Writing Format: If the attack is from overseas, you’re likely to notice some small issues in writing format, like writing a date as 4th April, 2021 rather than April 4, 2021. While this is subtle, it is a huge red flag. 

 

Grammar Issues: We all fall victim to the occasional typo, but if you receive an email riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes, consider the source. It’s likely from a hacker, especially if the email supposedly comes from a major organization. 

 

Sender Name: This one is also difficult to track, but phishing emails will typically close with a very generic name to avoid raising suspicion. You should recognize the people who send you emails. Or, at the very least, you should clearly understand their role in their organization. 

 

Link Destination: Before you click on any link in an email be sure to hover over it. The destination URL should pop up. Check out the domain name of this URL. Similar to the sender email address, make sure that this address is legitimate before clicking. 

 

Attachments: Is it realistic to expect an attachment from this sender? Rule of thumb, don’t open any attachment you don’t expect to receive, whether it’s a Zip file, PDF or otherwise. The payload for a ransomware attack often hides inside these phony surprises. 

Email Design: A kooky font like Comic Sans should immediately raise red flags. Especially if you don’t clearly recognize the sender. Also watch out for weird spacing, kooky graphics, and color fonts. 

 

Links to Verify Information: Never ever click on a link to verify information. Instead, if you think the information does need updating go directly to the website. Type in your email and password, and update your information from the Account tab. Always go directly to the source. 

 

Odd Logo Use: Hackers try their best to mimic a websites’ look and feel. Oftentimes, they get very close; but they won’t be perfect. If something feels off, it probably is. 

 

 

While there is no fool-proof method for avoiding falling victim to a phishing attack, knowing how to spot likely culprits is one step in the right direction. As you can gather from the above tips, if an email looks fishy, it probably is (phishy).  

 

Use these tips to double-check any email you might have doubts about. Be especially careful of links and attachments. Double-check the return address. If the questionable email looks like it’s from a large company, let’s use Amazon as an example, but the return address is something like Amazon-rebates@dupe87351.net, then it’s not from Amazon.  

 

As always, if you are unsure about the safety of an email, contact us right away. We are here to insure your safety. It’s our job to protect you from every type of cybersecurity attack, phishing scams includes. 

What is Phishing & How do Hackers use it?

By | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

What exactly is Phishing? It’s one of the biggest threats from hackers, yet most people still aren’t sure how phishing works. Hackers mimic the emails, forms, and websites of legitimate companies to lure people into providing their private, personal, and business information. Credit card numbers, social security information, account logins, and personal identifiers are just some of the data hackers are looking for. Victims don’t realize they’ve been compromised until long after the event took place. And often only after their identity or finances are affected. 

In the past, an attack was carried out relatively quickly. As soon as the victim gave up their information, the hacker moved in and stole money from the compromised account. Today, it’s often more lucrative for hackers to sell that information on the Dark Web, resulting in longer-lasting and even more devastating attacks. 

3 Types of Phishing Attacks 

Spear Phishing 

Phishing attempts directed at specific individuals, or companies, are termed ‘spear phishing.’ These attacks gather personal information to increase the probability of success. This technique is by far the most successful on the Internet today, accounting for 91% of attacks. 

Personalized attacks work because the victim typically doesn’t identify the attack as a threat. The approach is usually an email that contains a bogus attachment. The email usually looks legitimate, as it includes the person’s name and position in the company. Once the attachment is clicked on, threats, including ransomware, are launched. 

 

Clone Phishing 

Clone phishing is an attack where a previously delivered email containing an attachment or link is used to create an almost identical email. The attachment is replaced with a malicious copy, then sent from an email address spoofed to appear that it came from the original sender. It may claim to be a resend of the original or an updated version. 

 

Clone Phishing attacks can look like an anti-virus update, a refund or credit offer, and even gift cards. Make sure you know where these emails came from before you click on any links. Better yet, don’t click on those links at all! 

 

Whaling 

The term ‘whaling’ is used because these attacks target the big fish of the company. These phishing attacks are directed specifically at senior executives and high-profile targets. Aimed at executives, the masquerading emails will take a more serious tone. The email is crafted to target the person’s role in the company. The content of a whaling attack email is written as a legal subpoena, customer complaint, or a payment request. 

 

Whaling emails masquerade as a critical business messages. They appear to be sent from a legitimate businesses. Whaling phishers have also forged official-looking FBI subpoena emails and claimed that the manager needs to click a link and install special software to view the subpoena. 

Some examples are, emails from a bank or medical office asking to update information online or confirm the username and password? It could be a suspicious email from your boss asking you to execute a wire transfer. If you see any of these you’re among the 76% of businesses that were victims of a phishing attack in the last year. 

 

Methods of Delivery 

Most phishing scams are received through emails. But now hackers are getting trickier with their methods of execution. Personal device and Phone attacks using SMS texting (smishing), Voice phishing (vishing) are very common. Social engineering, a method in which users can be encouraged to click on various kinds of unexpected content for a variety of technical and social reasons, is everywhere. 

 

 

Ransomware 

Phishing, the most widely used method for spreading ransomware, increases significantly every year. Anyone can become a victim of phishing, or in turn, ransomware attacks. However, hackers have begun targeting organizations that are more likely to pay the ransom. Small businesses, education, government, and healthcare often don’t have protected data backups. That means they are unable to re-install a pre-ransomed version of their data. Instead, they have to pay their way out or cease to exist. The cost of the ransom alone can be the end of many small businesses. Victims of phishing campaigns are often  branded as untrustworthy. This could mean that some customers turn to their competitors, resulting in even greater financial loss. 

 

Phishing campaigns are rampant 

There are nearly 5 million new phishing sites created every month, according to Webroot Threat Report. On the dark web, hackers can find Phishing as a Service, offering phishing attacks in exchange for payment. One Russian website, “Fake Game,” claims over 61,000 subscribers and 680,000 credentials stolen. 

The stats of these attacks are scary. Over 30% of phishing messages are carelessly opened. 12% of targets click on the attachments. In short, these hackers look legitimate. 

New phishing campaigns and sites can be built by sophisticated hackers in a matter of minutes. While we think there are far more legitimate ways to earn money, these individuals have made a living out of scamming the general public. 

 

Protect Yourself 

Since Emails are the most common delivery methods for Phishing attacks, it makes sense to train your employees how to spot these scams. It’s safe to assume that, if an email looks fishy, it probably is. Contact us if you have any questions or concerns.