Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

7/22/2008
03:05 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

'PhishMe' Tool Lets Businesses Spear-Phish Themselves

Web-based service generates self-inflicted targeted attacks to enlighten users, assess risk

A new do-it-yourself phishing tool lets enterprises automatically spear-phish their own users.

The new PhishMe software-as-a-service offering is designed to help companies assess their vulnerability to spear phishing, as well as to give their users a real-world taste of these targeted attacks.

Boutique security firm Intrepidus Group, which is made up of some black hat researchers, today rolled out the new Web-based PhishMe service for helping companies find the weakest links in their targeted phishing defense.

Spear phishing attacks target specific organizations or individuals, rather than blanketing large groups of users. A recent report from iDefense Labs found that over 15,000 corporate victims in the past 15 months have been hit by spear phishing attacks.

The concept of unleashing a fake phishing campaign inside your own organization isn’t new -- some companies routinely hire penetration testers or social engineering experts to do the dirty work for them. PhishMe is basically a way to roll your own internal campaign and to collect metrics on how users reacted to the messages.

Rohyt Belani, CEO of Intrepidus, says PhishMe is a spinoff of a service Intrepidus performs for its security clients. “This [PhishMe] is a more scalable solution that can be run across various clients, and it’s cheaper to buy a license from us,” he says. The service ranges from $5,000 to under $50,000 for a one-year license, and Intrepidus runs all the background Web and email servers on its end.

PhishMe is also a gentler way of catching employees falling for a phish. Rather than making them feel punk’d, like some social engineering exploits do, it gives them instant feedback: They are redirected to educational messages and information, including a PhishMe educational comic strip and links to their corporate sites for more information.

“The most important part is that as soon as an employee falls for the simulated phishing attack, they get immediate feedback, training materials... on their screen, telling them this is what it was,” Belani says. “It’s not just 'we did this to you, tricked you, and had fun at your expense.'”

Security experts say the hands-on attack approach is more powerful than a security policy statement or traditional user training. “I think it's one of the simplest and most effective ways at educating [users]," says Robert Hansen (aka “RSnake”), CEO of SecTheory. "I've never thought just telling them what to watch for works.

"This forces them to look at it, and pay attention,” Hansen says. “It's far more real and easy to understand when it's staring you in the face in your inbox.”

Setting up an attack takes just a few minutes, and PhishMe provides user behavior metrics as well as other trend information. For security reasons, Intrepidus doesn’t collect its clients’ user passwords on its servers. “The only thing we have is the email addresses of our clients,” says Aaron Higgby, CTO of Intrepidus.

PhishMe can be configured for any type of phishing exploit, even the more obviously phony ones that aren’t targeted at any particular organization or person.

But spear phishing campaigns are usually the most difficult phishing attacks to detect, experts say. “They are hard to pick up because they are so close to legitimate emails out there,” Belani says. “You need to train people to focus on the targeted phishing attacks.”

The next version of the service will have options for including benign infected-email attachments, Belani says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.
CVE-2020-7222
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An issue was discovered in Amcrest Web Server 2.520.AC00.18.R 2017-06-29 WEB 3.2.1.453504. The login page responds with JavaScript when one tries to authenticate. An attacker who changes the result parameter (to true) in this JavaScript code can bypass authentication and achieve limited privileges (...