Endpoint
12/13/2016
09:20 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

91% Of Cyberattacks Start With A Phishing Email

Phishing remains the number one attack vector, according to a new study that analyzes why users fall for these lures.

The majority of cyberattacks begin with a user clicking on a phishing email. Ever wondor why users continue to fall for phishing emails?

According to a new report from PhishMe that found that 91% of cyberattacks start with a phish, the top reasons people are duped by phishing emails are curiosity (13.7%), fear (13.4%), and urgency (13.2%), followed by reward/recognition, social, entertainment, and opportunity.

"Fear and urgency are a normal part of every day work for many users," says Aaron Higbee, co-founder and CTO of PhishMe. "Most employees are conscientious about losing their jobs due to poor performance and are often driven by deadlines, which leads them to be more susceptible to phishing."

Higbee says PhishMe based the study on more than 40 million simulation emails by about 1,000 of its customers around the world. The study took place over an 18-month span from January 2015 through July 2016.

Among the study’s top findings:

  • Susceptibility to phishing email drops almost 20% after a company runs just one failed simulation. So people do learn.
  • Reporting rates significantly outweigh susceptibility rates when simple reporting is deployed to more than 80% of a company’s population, even in the first year.
  • Active reporting of phishing email threats can reduce the standard time for detection of a breach to 1.2 hours on average – a significant improvement over the current industry average of 146 days. This was an important aspect of this report, notes Higbee, who says the study also includes results from more than 300,000 users in organizations that actively use the PhishMe Reporter tool for more than one year.
  • The study also found that users respond to Locky ransomware's phishing lures (21.5%) more than any other malware variant. The others that followed Locky included order confirmation (17%), job application received (15.5%), and blank email (11.9%).

Higbee adds that Locky's phishing campaign has been effective for the following reasons: It is presented in a business context; it’s personalized to the recipient; there are no noticeable errors in grammar or spelling; and finally, it mimics many organizations’ existing invoice processes.

When PhishMe analyzed the Locky data in vertical industries it found that the response rates in the insurance industry were more than one in three (34.7%), while other high response rates occurred in the retail industry at 31.7%; energy, 27.8%; and healthcare at 24.9%.

"We don’t really know why insurance was the leading vertical," Higbee says. "It could be that there’s not enough training or insurance workers tend to interact with many external people so the chance for them to receive a phishing email increases."

Here’s a look at the average response rate by industry when PhishMe analyzed the "file from scanner" benchmark simulation:

 

Transportation      49%

Healthcare             31%

Insurance               30%

Pharma/Biotech     30%

Energy                    24%

Retail                       16%

Consulting               14%

Utilities                    14%

Technology              10%

Non-Profits                 5%

 

Related Content: 

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Row3n
50%
50%
Row3n,
User Rank: Strategist
12/14/2016 | 10:16:38 PM
Re: Hmm Phishy
You would think that by now that people would have the sense to see these "congratulations you've won a million dollars" emails and know better! I mean, of course hackers are getting more and more sophisticated, but a great number of these crazy spam emails are obvious as heck that that's precisely what they are!
hxrrison
100%
0%
hxrrison,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/13/2016 | 11:24:31 AM
Hmm Phishy
Phishing threat is reduced when phishing drills are run. Funny that a company that does that exact thing would come up with that solution.
1.9 Billion Data Records Exposed in First Half of 2017
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/20/2017
To Be Ready for the Security Future, Pay Attention to the Security Past
Liz Maida, Co-founder, CEO & CTO, Uplevel Security,  9/18/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Jan, check this out! I found an unhackable PC.
Current Issue
Security Vulnerabilities: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe, researchers have unveiled a new round of IT security flaws. Is your enterprise ready?
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
Enterprises are spending more of their IT budgets on cybersecurity technology. How do your organization's security plans and strategies compare to what others are doing? Here's an in-depth look.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.