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.

News

4/9/2016
08:00 AM
Steve Zurier
Steve Zurier
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

The 8 Most Convincing Phishing Schemes Of 2016

The year is young and high-profile phishing attacks keep coming seemingly every week. Here are eight reasons why security pros have to get serious about combating phishing.
Previous
1 of 9
Next

It’s only mid-April, yet there is no shortage of convincing phishing schemes to highlight for 2016.

Gartner reports that one in every 4,500 emails today is a phishing attack, threats that rely on social engineering to gain illicit access to personal and corporate assets.

Aaron Higbee, co-founder and CTO of PhishMe.com, says that this year’s crop of phishing attacks center around three main types:

  • CEO fraud, where scammers who claim to represent legitimate third parties try to get administrative people to believe that the CEO has authorized a wire transfer for thousands, or in some cases millions, of dollars.
  • Tax schemes, where phishers aim to get administrative people, claims adjusters at insurance companies, or auditors, to send employee W-2s. The W-2s have social security numbers and other PII that lead criminals to the personal bank accounts of employees.
  • Fraudulent IRS sites, where users are duped into thinking that the IRS sent them an email requesting more information. These attacks are especially infuriating to experts because the IRS would never send such an email to a taxpayer. 

“What’s happened is that all the techniques that security people have used in the past, such as sandboxes or combing URLs in a body of email, simply don’t work anymore,” Higbee says. “In many of these cases, the criminals bypass all the technical controls and exploit human factors, such as following up an email with a phone call to prove they are legitimate.”

Brian Reed, a Gartner analyst who focuses on data security, adds that the latest phishing scams have gotten increasingly sophisticated. Criminals are doing their homework, he says, finding out who has responsibility at companies for wire transfers and who in the chain is the most vulnerable to a phishing scam.

“These emails are not blindly sent from a fictitious Royal Prince with numerous misspelled words or other obvious errors in the message body,” he says. “They are done by criminals who have studied the inside of these organizations, understand how organizations communicate, and have combed social media to gather information about specific people to target at companies.”

Higbee adds that in many cases, the phishing scams still emanate from West Africa, but today they are major criminal operations.

“Some have even gone so far to set up entire call centers to study companies and follow up with phone calls,” Higbee says. “We’re finding that many of the prospects evaluating our solutions are demoralized. They’ve put every security control they know in place yet they still fall prey to these phishing scams.”

The following phishing schemes we highlight here represent the most egregious of these three type of phishing cases.

 

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

Previous
1 of 9
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
nathanwburke
100%
0%
nathanwburke,
User Rank: Author
4/13/2016 | 6:17:55 AM
Re: These problems were all preventable
Security awareness training can help, but that is also just one piece of a comprehensive security plan that includes the triumvirate of People, Process and Technology. Security awareness training can help with the People component, making employees more cognizant of the low-level, commodity attacks that use emails with attachments and links to compromised sites. 

However, this only applies to the obvious. Don't download and run applications from attachments. Don't click links in emails from people you don't know.  The problem is that many attacks are more sophisticated. In some cases, the phishing attack comes from a compromised email address using language that mimics the hacked sender. In those cases, all of the awareness training available will likely fail.

Creating a Process for flagging potentially malicious activity and quickly removing any threat organization-wide is key to reducing risk of threats introduced accidentally (despite awareness training). Having Technology in place to identify and remediate obvious threats is essential to keeping this process timely and scalable.

Awareness training is important, but simply telling people not to do the obvious isn't enough anymore.
Dan Euritt
50%
50%
Dan Euritt,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2016 | 10:39:10 AM
These problems were all preventable
All companies should be conducting awareness training on these issues, and this article looks like a great place to start. Thanks for posting it up.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/9/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
4 Security Tips as the July 15 Tax-Day Extension Draws Near
Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  7/10/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15105
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Django Two-Factor Authentication before 1.12, stores the user's password in clear text in the user session (base64-encoded). The password is stored in the session when the user submits their username and password, and is removed once they complete authentication by entering a two-factor authenticati...
CVE-2020-11061
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
In Bareos Director less than or equal to 16.2.10, 17.2.9, 18.2.8, and 19.2.7, a heap overflow allows a malicious client to corrupt the director's memory via oversized digest strings sent during initialization of a verify job. Disabling verify jobs mitigates the problem. This issue is also patched in...
CVE-2020-4042
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Bareos before version 19.2.8 and earlier allows a malicious client to communicate with the director without knowledge of the shared secret if the director allows client initiated connection and connects to the client itself. The malicious client can replay the Bareos director's cram-md5 challenge to...
CVE-2020-11081
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
osquery before version 4.4.0 enables a priviledge escalation vulnerability. If a Window system is configured with a PATH that contains a user-writable directory then a local user may write a zlib1.dll DLL, which osquery will attempt to load. Since osquery runs with elevated privileges this enables l...
CVE-2020-6114
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
An exploitable SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Admin Reports functionality of Glacies IceHRM v26.6.0.OS (Commit bb274de1751ffb9d09482fd2538f9950a94c510a) . A specially crafted HTTP request can cause SQL injection. An attacker can make an authenticated HTTP request to trigger this vulnerabi...