Is T-Mobile throttling your bandwidth? But instead of a message, the email only included an attachment. Reasons for attacks can also vary. Unified Endpoint Management: Guide & UEM Tools, Insider Threat Detection Guide: Mitigation Strategies & Tools, Synthetic Monitoring Guide: Types, Uses, Packages & Tools, 11 Best Free TFTP Servers for Windows, Linux and Mac, 12 Best NetFlow Analyzers & Collector Tools for 2020, Best Bandwidth Monitoring Tools – Free Tools to Analyze Network Traffic Usage, Watch your Plex library in Kodi with the Plex Kodi addon, How to set up Plex on Chromecast and get the most out of it. © 2020 Comparitech Limited. These emails were sent to different marketing companies, but always targeted employees responsible for email operations. Spear phishing example. This way, youâre covered whether the message is legitimate or not. It is important for businesses of all sizes to defend their data; building “human firewalls” before employing any other technical and regulatory barriers can help strengthen their cyber security capabilities. As you can see there are many different approaches cybercriminals will take and they are always evolving. Which Christmas movie is most popular in your state? Using these details, the fraudster aims to instill trust in the victim and get as far as possible with the scam. For example, the FBI has warned of spear phishing scams where the emails appeared to be from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Phishers are now specifically targeting individuals or groups often succeeding in accessing personally identifiable information (PII); attacks result in identity theft, financial fraud, stealing intellectual property, or industrial espionage. One of these was reported to target aluminum company Alcoa. What is a Cross-site scripting attack and how to prevent it? Crelan Bank in Belgium lost $75.8 million (approximately €70 million) in a CEO fraud … We’re going to need some examples to work with in the remainder of this article — we’re not writing an academic textbook here, we’re writing about real spear phishing attacks that we commonly see “in the wild” in current times. One of the best and popular spear phishing examples is the way RSA unit of EMC was targeted. Leviathan : Leviathan has sent spearphishing emails with links, often using a … Time will tell if spear phishing will be an even bigger concern in 2016. Emails seemingly sent from senior executives directed employees to send funds from a subsidiary in Hong Kong to accounts belonging to third parties. Link URL. According to John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, “Eccleston sought to compromise, exploit and damage U.S. government computer systems that contained sensitive nuclear weapon-related information with the intent to allow foreign nations to gain access to that material.” Using first-hand knowledge of the organization and personal relationship with other employees, the alleged malicious hacker could have easily crafted legitimate-looking e-mails that could have fooled somebody into opening the door to his attack. These all use information that could be gleaned from social media posts, especially if youâre prone to divulging information about where you shop, eat, bank, and so on. FBI warns of increased spear phishing attacks. Here are some examples of successful spear phishing attacks. Spear Phishing Examples. These emails often use clever tactics to get victims' attention. The cybercriminals masqueraded as a board member and sent out emails to several employees. Phishing schemes typically involve a victim being tricked into giving up information that can be later used in some kind of scam. Tech Firm Ubiquiti Suffers $46M Cyberheist. Almost all online scams start with some form of phishing, but many of these attempts randomly target a large audience. In early 2016, the social media app Snapchat fell victim to a whaling attack when a high-ranking employee was emailed by a cybercriminal impersonating the CEO and was fooled into revealing employee payroll information. Cyber-criminals are increasing their schemes to exploit any personal information discovered from social engineering. (n.d.). An automated phone call or text message from your bank stating that your account may have been breached. This fraud resulted in transfers of funds aggregating $46.7 million held by a company subsidiary incorporated in Hong Kong to other overseas accounts held by third parties.” The transfers were performed directly by Ubiquiti employees that were tricked into thinking that they were getting legitimate requests from executives thanks to spoofed e-mail addresses and look-alike domains. This is usually a C-level employee, like a Chief Executive or Chief Financial Officer. Millions of customer credit card numbers were stolen. Most of the large spear phishing breaches have targeted wire transfers and financial transactions, although there are some examples that I’ll be discussing that included data breaches. Phishing Examples. These are especially useful for businesses where a lot is at stake should an attempt be successful. In other words, you are only as secure as the weakest link; thus, employees need to be trained properly when it comes to network security. The criminal targets a specific individual or organization and uses focused personalized messages to steal data that goes beyond personal credit card information. Social media, in particular, is a hotbed of information regarding both individuals and businesses. Spear phishing is a highly targeted email designed to advance a criminal’s agenda, whether for financial gain or trade secrets. Luckily the actual company systems were not compromised, but the incident shows the relative ease with which a spear phisher can trick victims into performing actions directly using impersonation and information widely available on the internet to produce realistic spoofed e-mails. According to Proofpoint’s 2020 State of the Phish (PDF) report, 65 percent of US businesses were victims of successful phishing attacks in 2019. Those who may have fallen victim to a spear phishing attack or lured into phishing schemes can report them to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a report; suspicious e-mails can be forwarded there for verification. When it comes to spear phishing, the best line of defense are users themselves at any level of an organization who must step up their game as cyber defenders to effectively deter and recognize the subtlest e-scams. Economic reasons are also at the forefront of the possible motives for spear phishing attacks. In perhaps the most high-profile case in recent years, volunteers and employees of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign fell victim to spear phishing attacks . It might include a link to a login page where the scammer simply harvests your credentials. An example might be an unexpected email to a CFO from their boss asking that they transfer money to a certain account. Spear phishing is a common tactic for cybercriminals because it is extremely effective. Whatâs more, the study found that one-third of attacks targeted just one mailbox. U.S. Charges Five Chinese Military Hackers with Cyber Espionage Against U.S. One of the best and popular spear phishing examples is the way RSA unit of EMC was targeted. If you have suspicions about an email or other message, donât visit the site or call the number provided. The goal might be high-value money transfers or trade secrets. Spear phishing attempts can take many different forms. Because cybercriminals do so much research into their victims, this makes their attacks very convincing. A whaling attack is a spear phishing attack against a high-level executive. To have a clearer understanding of what spear phishing is, let’s take a look at several examples... CEO phishing. That email will use fear-mongering to get the target to call a number or … Daniel Brecht has been writing for the Web since 2007. For example, posing as someone who went to your old school or is a member of your religious group could get you to open up. Retrieved from http://us.norton.com/security_response/phishing.jsp, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. While education and awareness are some of the best defenses out there, tools are available to help defend against phishing attacks. The hackers may simply alter one symbol for another or use something very similar to the actual email address. A huge targeted attack occurred in 2015 when up to 100 million emails were pushed out to Amazon customers who had recently placed an order. Spear phishing is an email spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to sensitive information. A common spear phishing scam in companies involves the scammer posing as a company executive and requesting that an unsuspecting employee wire money to an account belonging to the fraudster. It’s against our every instinct to ignore free money, and hackers … Because itâs so targeted, spear phishing is arguably the most dangerous type of phishing attack. Here are some examples of successful spear phishing attacks. Terrarium TV shut down: Use these top 10 Terrarium TV alternatives, How to delete online accounts and reduce your security risks, Identity fraud on Upwork and other freelance sites threatens gig economy integrity, Consumer interest in checking credit scores jumped 230 percent in a decade. In a spear phishing attempt, a perpetrator needs to know some details about the victim. This isnât something that should be relied upon, but it can act as a backup. Usually, the intended targets of spear phishing are executives whose info is worth a lot of money. Can you watch Bellator 223: Mousasi vs. Lovato on Kodi? In what seems like an international spy movie scenario, the Chinese military carried out phishing attacks on Alcoa, an American aluminum supplier. Whaling. As with any scam, one of the top ways to avoid it is to become aware of how the scam takes place. Spear phishing is an email spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to sensitive information. Learn how your comment data is processed. Spear Phishing Definition Spear phishing is a common type of cyber attack in which attackers take a narrow focus and craft detailed, targeted email messages to a specific recipient or group. But Amazon users should watch out for spear phishing attacks too. Opening a file like the one embedded into the email will launch ‘PowerDuke’ into action. Spear Phishing Real Life Examples Spear phishing is a common tactic for cybercriminals because it is extremely effective. Unexpected Refunds & Payments. Examples and scenarios for how spear phishing works and what it looks like include: Spear Phishing An Individual: The perpetrator discovers the bank their target uses and using a spoofed email and copied website credentials, sends the target an email stating the account has been breached. In 2008, itâs suspected that hackers contacted 19 senior Alcoa employees via email, impersonating a board member of the company. What most people don’t know is the DNC email system was breached through spear phishing emails. The potential destructiveness of a spear phishing attack for a business is shown clearly in the case of Ubiquiti Networks Inc., an American network technology company for service providers and enterprises. 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Spear phishing is advanced targeted email phishing. Business email compromise attacks, for example, are also known as whaling, CEO fraud, or wire-transfer fraud. For example, if, in 2014, the most used spear phishing attachments used in e-mails were .exe files, cyber criminals are now using MS Word document files as they are aware that users, thanks to training, are recognizing certain extensions as more dangerous. The attacker will usually already have some information about the intended victim which they can use to trick them into giving away more valuable information such as payment details. Alcoa. The emails looked real, with the title of âYour Amazon.com order has dispatched,â followed by an order code. If you suspect you may have been a victim of a phishing attempt or you are notified as such (by a definitely trusted source), then you should consider changing your password. Spear phishing uses a blend of email spoofing, dynamic URLs and drive-by downloads to … Avoid opening suspicious e-mail attachments and following links sent in e-mails, especially when the sender is unknown. Retrieved from http://usa.kaspersky.com/about-us/press-center/in-the-news/defending-against-mobile-malware, Krebs, B. Phishing E-mails Hook Most Employees within a Day. Spear Phishing. An example might be an unexpected email to a CFO from their boss asking that they transfer money to a certain account. (n.d.). What are some spear phishing examples? RSA was responsible for the cyber security of EMC. Some of the most significant U.S. incidents, related to spear phishing, show how malicious hackers can employ different tactics to gain access even to the most secure and high-level information; these real-life examples show how any organization or individual can be a target and, unfortunately, a victim. What is Clickjacking and what can you do to prevent it? The emails actually came from the fraudsters and the third-party accounts belonged to them. We explain exactly what a spear phishing attack is (with examples) and the best practices to avoid becoming a victim. Phishing comes in many forms, from spear phishing, whaling and business-email compromise to clone phishing, vishing and snowshoeing. Spear phishing is advanced targeted email phishing. The best advice? During litigations, a spear phishing e-mail was sent to a restricted group of the U.S. company employees involved in the litigation. When attackers go after a “big fish” like a CEO, it’s called whaling. Real-life spear phishing examples The potential destructiveness of a spear phishing attack for a business is shown clearly in the case of Ubiquiti Networks Inc., an American network technology company for service providers and enterprises. Use strong passwords and a password manager. Organizations of all sizes and in any industry can become targets for spear phishing. Go to the website directly and change it there. What is Trojan Horse malware and how can you avoid it? Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a report, http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/cybersecurity/2015/05/13/former-fed-spear-phishing/27237155/, http://www.ic3.gov/media/2013/130625.aspx, http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-and-breaches/spear-phishing-attacks-out-of-china-targeted-source-code-intellectual-property/d/d-id/1086190?page_number=1, http://usa.kaspersky.com/about-us/press-center/in-the-news/defending-against-mobile-malware, http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/08/tech-firm-ubiquiti-suffers-46m-cyberheist/, http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/phishing-e-mails-hook-most/, http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-tips-for-spotting-a-phishing-e-mail/, http://blogs.rsa.com/anatomy-of-an-attack/, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2382970,00.asp, http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-and-breaches/epsilon-fell-to-spear-phishing-attack/d/d-id/1097119, http://us.norton.com/security_response/phishing.jsp, https://www.fbi.gov/pittsburgh/press-releases/2014/u.s.-charges-five-chinese-military-hackers-with-cyber-espionage-against-u.s.-corporations-and-a-labor-organization-for-commercial-advantage, https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1511737/000157104915006288/t1501817_8k.htm, http://news.verizonenterprise.com/2015/04/2015-data-breach-report-info/, Spearphishing meets vishing: New multi-step attack targets corporate VPNs, Phishing attack timeline: 21 hours from target to detection, Overview of phishing techniques: Brand impersonation. The perpetrator typically already knows some information about the target before making a move. As opposed to a normal phishing email that is sent to many, the spear phishing email is targeted to a specific individual. As mentioned earlier, links can lead to websites containing malware, spammy advertisements, and trackers. In 2008, a U.S. company Alcoa was targeted through spear phishing only a few weeks after having partnered with a Chinese state-owned company. How to watch the NCAA Frozen Four and Championship on Kodi, How to watch the 2019 NCAA Final Four and Championship game on Kodi, 30+ Best Kodi Addons in December 2020 (of 130+ tested). Using information freely available on social media and company websites, criminals can gather enough information to send personalized trustworthy emails to victims. FORM 8-K: UBIQUITI NETWORKS, INC. Retrieved from https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1511737/000157104915006288/t1501817_8k.htm, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. An example of a phishing email, disguised as an official email from a (fictional) bank. (2015, May 13). Some emails will only contain a link or an attachment with no other message, possibly targeting the readerâs sense of curiosity to prompt them to click. (2014, May 19). To stop spear phishing attacks requires getting everyone to see that today’s integrated security posture is not enough to overcome this threat. Spear-Phishing Examples Attackers who use social engineering are adaptable, constantly changing their tactics to increase their chances of success. Spear phishing uses the same methods as the above scams, but it targets a specific individual. A report by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows that the attack was carried through “employee impersonation and fraudulent requests from an outside entity targeting the Company’s finance department. (2015, August 6). The information is often sought through an email, a phone call (voice phishing or vishing), or a text message (SMS phishing or smishing). The e-mail subject line read ‘2011 Recruitment Plan.’ The e-mail was crafted well enough to trick one of the employees to retrieve it from their Junk mail folder.” The message contained an Excel spreadsheet titled ‘2011 Recruitment plan.xls’ that hid a zero-day exploit. Is Facebook profiting from illegal streaming? For example, a spear-phishing attack may initially target mid-level managers who work at financial companies in a specific geographical region and whose job title includes the word “finance.” She was targeted by a criminal who used social engineering to get her to hand over a password to an email account. Ubiquiti Networks suffered a $46.7 million loss after it was hit, for instance. Reports indicate spear phishing emails might have contained a link to a site that downloaded malware, which in turn disabled antivirus software, provided remote system access, and could be used to steal passwords. … If spear phishing is targeted usually at employees or small businesses (the ‘fish’), then the ‘whale’ in whaling is the ‘Big Fish’ of a high-level member of an organization. Many times, government-sponsored hackers and hacktivists are behind these attacks. Spear phishing hackers work diligently to obtain as much personal information about their victims as possible to effectively impersonate trusted contacts, making their spoofed … Spear phishing attacks could also target you on multiple messaging platforms. Note the misspelling of the words received and discrepancy as … While scammers target all sizes of businesses, attacks against small businesses are becoming increasingly popular. Whaling. Anyone can become a target of a spear phisher, so combating this problem requires continuous awareness training for all users for them to be vigilant about the information they share and to avoid revealing too much about themselves online so as to be victims of identity theft. Whatâs more,Â Verizonâs 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report found that phishing is involved in 22 percent of data breaches, more than any other threat action variety. It is fundamental to train employees to recognize phishing messages to protect them against most attacks. Therefore, phishing prevention activities and training are the best steps to avoid proactively such threats. Some rather concerning statistics emerged from a 2015 Intel study, which revealed 97 percent of people were unable to identify phishing emails. When it comes to spear phishing vs phishing, you have to be more alert when it comes to the former. Based on those results, you can decide the best course of action to take to improve training and prevent successful phishing attempts. Spearphishing with a link is a specific variant of spearphishing. Whaling. Spear phishing. Most people chose this as the best definition of spear-phishing: The definition of spear p... See the dictionary meaning, pronunciation, and sentence examples. The following example illustrates a spear phishing attack’s progression and potential consequences: A spoofed email is sent to an enterprise’s sysadmin from someone claiming to represent www.itservices.com, a database management SaaS provider. Public Service Announcement: Cyber Criminals Continue to Use Spear-Phishing Attacks to Compromise Computer Networks. While companies see huge losses from these attacks, both directly and indirectly, the impact on an individual can be even more severe. In a recent scam, the town of Franklin, Massachusetts fell victim to a phishing attack and lost over $500,000 to scammers. On a personal level, scammers could pose as a business you trust, for example, a bank or a store youâve shopped at. One of the useful tools available isÂ Cofense (formerly PhishMe). Plex vs Kodi: Which streaming software is right for you? The fact that government agencies and security companies have been at the center of spear phishing attacks of great proportions is proof that, regardless of the magnitude of the technical security solutions employed, the actions of even just one unaware user can be potentially disruptive. This technique has raised e-scams to a new level and has lately become the go-to choice for many attacks threatening individuals and businesses. Defending Against Mobile Malware. Enabling editing on that document opens the floodgates for malware. Many times, government-sponsored hackers and hacktivists are behind these attacks. Spear-Phishing Attacks Out Of China Targeted Source Code, Intellectual Property. Similarities between the two addresses offer the impression of a secure link, making the recipient less aware that an attack is taking place. Symantec. Malware made it into the company’s computers causing hostnames to be stolen and vulnerabilities exploited. Former Fed charged in spear-phishing attempt on colleagues. Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/pittsburgh/press-releases/2014/u.s.-charges-five-chinese-military-hackers-with-cyber-espionage-against-u.s.-corporations-and-a-labor-organization-for-commercial-advantage, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This happened at popular restaurant chain Chipotle. Scammers will often take advantage of the current climate and recent events to create their phishing lures. Phishers may perform research on the user to make the attack more effective. What are some Common SNMP vulnerabilities and how do you protect your network? In this particular attack, the spear phisher “sent two different phishing e-mails over a two-day period. "Whaling" is a specific form of phishing that targets high-profile business executives, managers, and the like. Security firm RSA was targeted in a successful spear phishing attempt in early 2011. Similarly, an attachment may contain viruses or malware and should never be opened unless youâre absolutely sure of the source. Spear phishing is a more selective and effective scheme than traditional phishing plots. Not sure if an email is coming from a hacker or a legitimate … Again, we have a whole post dedicated to spotting fake websites, but here are the main pointers: In other cases, clicking a link may simply take you to a blank page. Adversaries may send spearphishing emails with a malicious link in an attempt to gain access to victim systems. The current statistics found in the DBIR 2015 report say we need to do much better in this area. In the same years and as early as 2010, other spear phishing attacks that were traced to China involved going after source code on many victims’ machines using malware to access Google, Adobe, and other U.S. companies’ system. As reported by the FBI and according to the Office of Public Affairs of the U.S. Department of Justice in 2014, Chinese Military Cyber Hackers that allegedly stole American trade secrets through cyber espionage were accused by the US Government. DNC Hack. As such, they are becoming increasingly sophisticated and difficult to spot. The attackers compromised hundreds of legitimate accounts and are sending emails in rapid succession to organizations. The email uses the itservices.com customer mailing template. Cybercriminals do the same with the intention to resell confidential data to governments and private companies. Indeed, across the cybersecurity industry, the main nugget of advice to prevent successful spear phishing attempts is education. Spear phishing is a highly targeted email designed to advance a criminal’s agenda, whether for financial gain or trade secrets. He holds a graduate Certificate in Information Assurance and a Master of Science in Information Technology. Having let down their guard in some way, Epsilon had not discovered that its systems had been breached for some months after the incident in 2011. 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It tells you to call a number or follow a link and provide information to confirm that you are the real account holder. These actually address the customer by name, making them seem more legitimate than your standard phishing email. Thankfully, if youâre aware of these types of scams and know what to look out for, you can avoid becoming the next victim. Here's how to recognize each type of phishing … (2013, June 25). Cybercriminals tend to go after smaller companies hoping to get info on larger companies that they have relationships with, as per Symantec key findings. Corporations [â¦]. Symantec points out how the manufacturing sector has quickly become a primary target. Canada is one of the top countries at risk. In this attack, the hacker attempts to manipulate the target. Retrieved from http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-and-breaches/spear-phishing-attacks-out-of-china-targeted-source-code-intellectual-property/d/d-id/1086190?page_number=1, Kaspersky Lab. Though APWG reports have shown a slow downward trend in phishing in recent time, it is important not to let one’s guard down as spear phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated and, therefore, potentially more dangerous. In fact, businesses spend a total of over $1 billion each year on this type of training. Phishing is a very common element in many types of internet scams that can target thousands of people at once in the hopes that one or two will be fooled. This online marketing company was targeted in 2011 as part of a scheme to harvest customer credentials, possibly for use in other spear phishing attempts. Blog post detailing the scam takes place to change a password to EFF... Seems too difficult, a U.S. company Alcoa suspicions about an email stating that your account has been deactivated is! Phishing attempts is shown clearly, KnowBe4, and colleagues can help prevent such attacks approximately. 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Single user in other areas, such as financial records or corporate credit card numbers to!, Seltzer, L. ( 2011, April 1 ) they are becoming increasingly sophisticated difficult... Emails often use clever tactics to get her to hand over a password to an EFF blog detailing. Expire and you need to click on will usually be concealed in recent... Filling out an anti-phishing Working group ( APWG ) eCrime Report provides valuable data to governments and private companies offer... Two-Thirds of all cyber-espionage-style incidents used phishing as the above example, are also known as whaling, CEO,... Many forms, from spear phishing, but always targeted employees responsible for the email only included an may! Go after a “ big fish ” like a CEO fraud just don ’ t consider these users high-profile. Criminal targets a specific individual or organization and uses focused personalized messages to protect them against most.! 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