Phishing emails are a common threat that a large majority of people have come across already, and when a lot of people hear the words, they’ll think of poorly worded emails that are obviously malicious. While a lot of malicious emails may look like this, in reality phishing campaigns can be complex, convincing operations that strategically attack high value targets. These attacks take advantage of people being careless and not looking out for the fine details that give the attack away, and not having a strong enough understanding of phishing attacks will only help the malicious actors.
How Phishing Campaigns Work
As a user, you may only come in contact with a single email from a campaign, but that email – or some form of it – will be sent to hundreds or even millions of people in a short period of time. The large number of malicious emails sent means that even if a fraction of the people targeted click on a malicious link, hackers can still acquire enough information to plan larger scale attacks. This emphasis on scale explains why so many campaigns are poorly crafted and appear obviously malicious. Your email address is one of many, and someone less familiar with technology may fall for an attack that is obvious to you.
Ways Malicious Emails Trick Employees
Of course, not every phishing attack is filled with grammar errors or strange links. Often, malicious actors will create campaigns that attempt to mimic services employees will find familiar in their workflow. This allows them to catch someone with their guard down because they are used to getting emails requesting information from sources like Microsoft or Google. Malicious actors will often combine a familiar brand with an urgent message in order to encourage employees to click before they think and type in their credentials before they realize they’ve been tricked.
Different Kinds of Attacks
The kind of phishing attack talked about so far targets a large number of people with more concern for being seen by many users rather than by any specific individual. A spear phishing attack on the other hand will target a specific person, business, or entity with an attack hand crafted for their target. Information gained from other cyberattacks could help a malicious actor craft their spear phishing attack, or they may try to use publicly available knowledge. Usually, these kinds of phishing attacks will target high level individuals in a company, so that one successful attack will offer a wealth of information for the attacker.
The reason phishing campaigns have stuck around so long is that they are effective. No matter the security measures taken or tools implemented by a business, users within your business’ network will always be the weakest link. Staff that isn’t trained to identify phishing attacks and handle them correctly will only give malicious actors an advantage, so our team here at Robinett Consulting wants to help you and your staff be as prepared as possible for any phishing campaigns that will come into your inbox.