Phishing attacks elevate

Hackers are changing their tactics by targeting employee groups of up to 250 people at one time with fake emails or by targeting the smaller company in a merger and acquisition.


ISS SourcePhishing attacks are moving from targeting a few key employees in businesses to much wider groups of employees.

“Once they are in, attackers are using what they learn about the environment to attack bigger groups,” said Scott Gréaux, vice-president of product management and services at corporate security awareness training company PhishMe.

Some organizations are seeing phishing campaigns targeted at up to 250 employees at a time, but using slightly different fake emails to avoid detection, he said.

Phishing attacks are also moving away from using attachments because of greater awareness among corporate users about the potential dangers of email attachments.

Instead, they are using emails about topical or local events likely to be of general interest to just about anyone in the organization.

Another evolution of highly targeted phishing attacks is to use compromised email accounts to send malicious links to others in the same organization.

“These are known as proximity phishing attacks because they come from the compromised accounts of people in other departments of the same organization,” Gréaux said.

Another recent trend is interest in companies involved in mergers and acquisitions, he said. These organizations present an opportunity to compromise the smaller company and then use that foothold to target the larger organization after the merger.

“Phishers are typically very patient and will gather information over longer periods of time than fraudsters, who tend to use information quickly for profit,” Gréaux said.

Phishing continues as one of the top infiltration methods used by attackers. It has been the starting point of several attacks on high-profile organizations.

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