Therefore, phishing prevention activities and training are the best steps to avoid proactively such threats. They might even pretend to be a person you know, directly or indirectly. If you have suspicions about an email or other message, don’t visit the site or call the number provided. The false CEO/ official orders to transfer considerable amounts of funds to a particular account, details of which … 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. 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.” However, you should contact the company via a phone number or email from its actual website, not the contact information found in the email. When they see an opportunity, they exploit it — and COVID-19 is a prime example of attackers using current events to … … Many technology users are still unaware of today’s spear phishing tactics and the evolving methodologies employed by e-scammers. How to watch Pennyworth season 2 online (from anywhere), How to watch Winter Love Island 2020 online from abroad (stream it free), How to watch Game of Thrones Season 8 free online, How to watch Super Bowl LIV (54) on Kodi: Live stream anywhere, 6 Best screen recorders for Windows 10 in 2020, Best video downloaders for Windows 10 in 2020, 12 best video editing software for beginners in 2020, Best video conferencing software for small businesses, Best video converters for Mac in 2020 (free and paid), Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report, government benefits and job opportunities, What spear phishing is (with examples) and how you can avoid it. Canada is one of the top countries at risk. Be mindful of e-mails that just don’t sound right. Spear-phishing attacks are at least as personalized as a typical corporate marketing campaign. If you do happen to click a link in an email and end up going through to a website, you can do some checks to detect an imposter. If it’s a known scam, chances are you’ll see results stating as much. It is fundamental to train employees to recognize phishing messages to protect them against most attacks. 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. Opening a file like the one embedded into the email will launch ‘PowerDuke’ into action. Spearphishing with a link is a specific variant of spearphishing. 10 tips for spotting a phishing e-mail. Even one of largest e-mail providers for major companies like Best Buy, Citi, Hilton, LL Bean, Marriott, has been the target of a spear phishing attack that caused the stealing of customers’ data. Spear phishing is a common tactic for cybercriminals because it is extremely effective. A type of spear phishing targets company employees by impersonating Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). These are especially useful for businesses where a lot is at stake should an attempt be successful. It's different from ordinary phishing in that with whaling, the emails or web pages serving the scam take on a more severe or formal look and are usually targeting someone in particular. Spear phishing is a more selective and effective scheme than traditional phishing plots. DNC Hack. (2015, August 7). Not sure if an email is coming from a hacker or a legitimate … In 2008, it’s suspected that hackers contacted 19 senior Alcoa employees via email, impersonating a board member of the company. They can also do damage in other areas, such as stealing secret information from businesses or causing emotional stress to individuals. Spear-Phishing Examples Of Various Kinds. (2015, May 13). Legitimate businesses very rarely ask for personal information via email. Two groups within the company were sent spear phishing emails simply titled “2011 Recruitment Plan.” Although the emails were marked as junk mail, one employee opened an email attachment that ultimately led to a form of malware being installed on the computer. Spear phishing is also a perfect method to gain a foothold into a company´s network unnoticed because a high-quality spear-phishing attack is extremely hard to detect. 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. Spear phishing is a highly targeted email designed to advance a criminal’s agenda, whether for financial gain or trade secrets. Companies like Cofense, KnowBe4, and Webroot provide security awareness training to help prevent such attacks. RSA was responsible for the cyber security of EMC. The Biggest Cryptocurrency Heists of All Time, Understanding cryptography’s role in blockchains, How to buy and pay with bitcoin anonymously, What bitcoin is and how to buy it and use it. Amazon is another company that has so many users, the chances of hooking one through a general phishing attempt is worth the effort. Below is an example of an eFax document that was included in the spear phishing campaign. Schwartz, M. (2011, April 11). Spear Phishing. Former Fed charged in spear-phishing attempt on colleagues. Brecht has several years of experience as an Information Technician in the military and as an education counselor. Cybercriminals tend to go after smaller companies hoping to get info on larger companies that they have relationships with, as per Symantec key findings. 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. 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. These emails were sent to different marketing companies, but always targeted employees responsible for email operations. These attackers often … Once open, a backdoor was installed through a vulnerability in Adobe Flash, and the phishing activity successfully harvested credentials, as confirmed the RSA FraudAction Research Labs. Link URL. Most people chose this as the best definition of spear-phishing: The definition of spear p... See the dictionary meaning, pronunciation, and sentence examples. As you can see there are many different approaches cybercriminals will take and they are always evolving. 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. Symantec. Caught in the wild - Real World Examples Also known as ‘Whaling’, it is a form of “Business Email Compromise” (BEC), this is one of the most commonly used methods of spear phishing as it creates a sense of urgency and panic within its victim. Spear phishing uses a blend of email spoofing, dynamic URLs and drive-by downloads to … 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. 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. These emails often use clever tactics to get victims' attention. This way, you’re covered whether the message is legitimate or not. It might include a link to a login page where the scammer simply harvests your credentials. Retrieved from http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240187487/FBI-warns-of-increased-spear-phishing-attacks, Boyd, A. 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. Ubiquiti Networks suffered a $46.7 million loss after it was hit, for instance. Spear phishing uses the same methods as the above scams, but it targets a specific individual. One of these was reported to target aluminum company Alcoa. A strange request from a coworker or supervisor, a bank or merchant requesting PII, usernames and passwords via e-mail. This is usually a C-level employee, like a Chief Executive or Chief Financial Officer. Utilizing a strong password is important as it can help prevent other attacks such as brute force attacks. Real-World Examples of Spear Phishing The largest known case of wire fraud is a direct result of spear phishing, for example. What is Bitcoin mining and how can you do it? 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). All rights reserved. © 2020 Comparitech Limited. To attract their attention, emails may appear to be legal threats or important complaints. An example of a phishing email, disguised as an official email from a (fictional) bank. A whaling attack is a spear phishing attack against a high-level executive. Unexpected Refunds & Payments. Simply don’t click links or attachments if you have any suspicions whatsoever. Filling out an Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) eCrime Report provides valuable data to the Phishing Activity Trends Report each year. Cyber-criminals are increasing their schemes to exploit any personal information discovered from social engineering. Thousands of e-mail messages and attachments were stolen from employees’ computers, including information on the transaction. These actually address the customer by name, making them seem more legitimate than your standard phishing email. You may have to do multiple checks and even then, they could have all bases covered. 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. Spear phishing examples Public Service Announcement: Cyber Criminals Continue to Use Spear-Phishing Attacks to Compromise Computer Networks. Cases involving. Get the latest news, updates & offers straight to your inbox. Of course, other spear phishing incidents have taken place over the years; but the variety of targets shows how spear phishing is an effective method for targeting several industries and for aiding malicious hackers in a variety of aims. Another benefit of these tools is that they can help you detect a phishing site by default. Hancitor has been delivered via phishing emails which contained malicious links. 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. Spear Phishing . It now simply redirects to an EFF blog post detailing the scam. The email may be asking for company details such as financial records or corporate credit card numbers. Phishing comes in many forms, from spear phishing, whaling and business-email compromise to clone phishing, vishing and snowshoeing. As such, they are becoming increasingly sophisticated and difficult to spot. Some emails will only contain a link or an attachment with no other message, possibly targeting the reader’s sense of curiosity to prompt them to click. Spear phishing attempts targeting businesses In what seems like an international spy movie scenario, the Chinese military carried out phishing attacks on Alcoa, an American aluminum supplier. For businesses, you can actually run a free test to see how “phish-prone” your employees are. Retrieved from http://usa.kaspersky.com/about-us/press-center/in-the-news/defending-against-mobile-malware, Krebs, B. Retrieved from http://blogs.rsa.com/anatomy-of-an-attack/, Seltzer, L. (2011, April 1). Examples of Spear Phishing scams. Similarities between the two addresses offer the impression of a secure link, making the recipient less aware that an attack is taking place. The emails looked real, with the title of “Your Amazon.com order has dispatched,” followed by an order code. In 2015, this company handed over more than $40 million in a spear phishing scam involving CEO fraud. Corporations […]. The attackers compromised hundreds of legitimate accounts and are sending emails in rapid succession to organizations. While scammers target all sizes of businesses, attacks against small businesses are becoming increasingly popular. Criminals select an individual target within an organization, using social media and other public information—and craft a fake email tailored for that person. Spear phishing is so common that according to Trend Micro, 91% of cyberattacks and subsequent data breaches started with a spear phishing email.. Much is due, still, to lack of cyber-security training and knowledge of how to identify phishing attempts. In this particular attack, the spear phisher “sent two different phishing e-mails over a two-day period. The infection vector for Defray is spear phishing emails containing malicious Microsoft Word document attachments, and the … When attackers go after a “big fish” like a CEO, it’s called whaling. Crelan Bank. The importance of user training in reacting properly to phishing attempts is shown clearly. 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. Phishing schemes typically involve a victim being tricked into giving up information that can be later used in some kind of scam. Some larger-scale spear phishing schemes hit users of large companies, such as those below: PayPal users seem to be the target of endless general phishing attempts. Emails seemingly sent from senior executives directed employees to send funds from a subsidiary in Hong Kong to accounts belonging to third parties. In June of 2015, the company lost $46.7 Million because of a spear phishing e-mail. Thankfully, if you’re aware of these types of scams and know what to look out for, you can avoid becoming the next victim. The criminal targets a specific individual or organization and uses focused personalized messages to steal data that goes beyond personal credit card information. One of the best and popular spear phishing examples is the way RSA unit of EMC was targeted. Crelan Bank in Belgium lost $75.8 million (approximately €70 million) in a CEO fraud … Defray ransomware is just one example of a strain that targets healthcare, education, manufacturing and tech sectors in the US and UK. Retrieved from http://www.ic3.gov/media/2013/130625.aspx, Higgins, K. J. An example might be an unexpected email to a CFO from their boss asking that they transfer money to a certain account. FORM 8-K: UBIQUITI NETWORKS, INC. Retrieved from https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1511737/000157104915006288/t1501817_8k.htm, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Retrieved from http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/cybersecurity/2015/05/13/former-fed-spear-phishing/27237155/, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. If remembering passwords seems too difficult, a password manager can help. The creation of a spear phishing campaign is not something to be taken lightly. One of the useful tools available is Cofense (formerly PhishMe). Password managers work by auto-filling your information in known sites, so they won’t work on unknown (including fake) domains. Aside from those specific cases, here are some more general example scenarios you might come across. Learn how your comment data is processed. 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. In June of 2015, the company lost $46.7 Million because of a spear phishing e-mail. The report also shares interesting findings on the number of users that still open phishing e-mails (23 percent) and attachments (11 percent) which help hackers compromise systems. In 2011, RSA was attacked using a Flash object embedded in an Excel (.XLS) file that was attached to an e-mail with the subject line “2011 Recruitment Plan”. Spear phishing is a highly targeted email designed to advance a criminal’s agenda, whether for financial gain or trade secrets. According to the latest Verizon DBIR, two-thirds of all cyber-espionage-style incidents used phishing as the vector. Newer attacks have been tied to state-affiliated espionage for a cause, political or other. Retrieved from http://us.norton.com/security_response/phishing.jsp, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Even giants like Facebook and Google haven’t been immune, having lost $100 million via an elaborate Lithuanian email scam in 2018. For example, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted lots of schemes centering around government benefits and job opportunities. Daniel Brecht has been writing for the Web since 2007. 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 . An IT platform is only as secure as its users make it. Scammers will often take advantage of the current climate and recent events to create their phishing lures. Some rather concerning statistics emerged from a 2015 Intel study, which revealed 97 percent of people were unable to identify phishing emails. Spear phishing is so common that according to Trend Micro, 91% of cyberattacks and subsequent data breaches started with a spear phishing email.. SPEAR PHISHING EXAMPLES AND CHARACTERISTICS A spear-phishing attack can display one or more of the following characteristics: • Blended or multi-vector threat. For example, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted lots of schemes centering around government benefits and job opportunities. Given that the company provides e-mail marketing services, this goes to show that any organization, even those that make the security of their communication system the center of their business, is at risk of such a threat. Millions of customer credit card numbers were stolen. An automated phone call or text message from your bank stating that your account may have been breached. Phishing Examples. You may see a string of emails designed to lure you into taking action. Adversaries may send spearphishing emails with a malicious link in an attempt to gain access to victim systems. Whaling. 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. An email from an online store about a recent purchase. (n.d.). In a recent scam, the town of Franklin, Massachusetts fell victim to a phishing attack and lost over $500,000 to scammers. It tells you to call a number or follow a link and provide information to confirm that you are the real account holder. Typically these attackers are looking to steal confidential information. Spear Phishing Examples. (n.d.). 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. This happened at popular restaurant chain Chipotle. Plex vs Kodi: Which streaming software is right for you? Retrieved from http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-and-breaches/epsilon-fell-to-spear-phishing-attack/d/d-id/1097119? Spear phishing is one of the most common sources of data breaches today. An email stating that your account has been deactivated or is about to expire and you need to click a link and provide credentials. Here's a small sample of popular phishing emails we've seen over the years. If you’re a business owner, it’s crucial to ensure your employees are educated on the topic of phishing attacks, particularly spear phishing. Because it’s so targeted, spear phishing is arguably the most dangerous type of phishing attack. Symantec points out how the manufacturing sector has quickly become a primary target. For example, you might get an email telling you you’re about to receive some money, but you just need to provide some personal details first. 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. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. The criminals were then able to use these details to steal the funds. The current statistics found in the DBIR 2015 report say we need to do much better in this area. (2015, August 6). In January 2015, Charles Harvey Eccleston, a former Energy Department, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission employee, has been accused of sending spear phishing e-mails to his former colleagues at Energy to embed spyware and malware on government computers, as told Aaron Boyd, Senior Staff Writer from Federal Times. Spear-Phishing Examples Attackers who use social engineering are adaptable, constantly changing their tactics to increase their chances of success. 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. Whaling. While education and awareness are some of the best defenses out there, tools are available to help defend against phishing attacks. Here's a small sample of popular phishing emails we've seen over the years. Epsilon was the victim of a successful attack in a time when most major e-mail companies (like Google) were a prime target. Usually, the intended targets of spear phishing are executives whose info is worth a lot of money. A 2017 report by IRONSCALES revealed that spear phishing is increasingly laser designated, with 77 percent of emails targeting ten mailboxes or fewer. During litigations, a spear phishing e-mail was sent to a restricted group of the U.S. company employees involved in the litigation. So where do they find these details? What is Clickjacking and what can you do to prevent it? Time will tell if spear phishing will be an even bigger concern in 2016. 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. 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. Security firm RSA was targeted in a successful spear phishing attempt in early 2011. It’s against our every instinct to ignore free money, and hackers … Spear phishing is the act of sending and emails to specific and well-researched targets while purporting to be a trusted sender. Kimsuky : Kimsuky has used an email containing a link to a document that contained malicious macros. Threat researchers at Abnormal Security discovered a coordinated spear phishing campaign targeting numerous enterprise organizations last week. Spear-Phishing Attacks Out Of China Targeted Source Code, Intellectual Property. As mentioned, spear phishing is a targeted form of phishing. The attack aimed mainly at stealing intellectual property mentioned Kelly Jackson Higgins, an Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. Take measures to block, filter, and alert on spear phishing e-mails that will improve detection and response capabilities. Spear phishing is a way of obtaining information through deceptive, more personalized e-mail messages and social engineering that is finely tailored to the target. Organizations of all sizes and in any industry can become targets for spear phishing. One way to do this is to simply run a search for the email or phone number provided. If you’re ever asked to change a password, never follow the link in the email or text message. 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. Opening the attachment ultimately led some recipients to install Locky ransomware, which involved a bitcoin ransom. Spear phishing is a more targeted type of phishing. Reasons for attacks can also vary. 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. That email will use fear-mongering to get the target to call a number or … Once the malware is installed, the backdoor contacts the command and control network. ( formerly PhishMe ) your employees are educated on the user to the... Phishing messages to steal data that severely compromise the organization huge losses from attacks... Some details about the target before making a move sizes of businesses you! The EFF has since taken control of the useful tools available is Cofense formerly... Could also target you on multiple messaging platforms a bitcoin ransom these tools that! And company websites, criminals can gather enough information to send personalized trustworthy emails to victims while participating in cases. Think it may be authentic but are unsure, you can decide the best practices to becoming. How “phish-prone” your employees are be stolen and vulnerabilities exploited gain access to victim systems experience as education! Made it into the company ’ s take a look at each of these steps found that one-third of targeted! Title of “Your Amazon.com order has dispatched, ” followed by an order code to manipulate the target before a! More, the fraudster aims to instill trust in the victim and as. Detail about what spear phishing examples phishing attacks too a known scam, one of the current climate recent. 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