Because cybercriminals do so much research into their victims, this makes their attacks very convincing. One of the best and popular spear phishing examples is the way RSA unit of EMC was targeted. For example, the FBI has warned of spear phishing scams where the emails appeared to be from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The attack aimed mainly at stealing intellectual property mentioned Kelly Jackson Higgins, an Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. Here's how to recognize each type of phishing … The Chinese army has been accused of multiple spear phishing attempts aimed at stealing trade secrets from US companies. Spear phishing uses the same methods as the above scams, but it targets a specific individual. Password managers work by auto-filling your information in known sites, so they won’t work on unknown (including fake) domains. Spear phishing emails are carefully designed to get a single recipient to respond. For individuals, major email providers are stepping up their game when it comes to anti-phishing tactics. Use strong passwords and a password manager. Once open, a backdoor was installed through a vulnerability in Adobe Flash, and the phishing activity successfully harvested credentials, as confirmed the RSA FraudAction Research Labs. To have a clearer understanding of what spear phishing is, let’s take a look at several examples... CEO phishing. Business email compromise attacks, for example, are also known as whaling, CEO fraud, or wire-transfer fraud. If spear phishing is targeted usually at employees or small businesses (the ‘fish’), then the ‘whale’ in whaling is the ‘Big Fish’ of a high-level member of an organization. Go to the website directly and change it there. Area 51 IPTV: What is Area 51 IPTV and should you use it? One of these was reported to target aluminum company Alcoa. Phishing schemes typically involve a victim being tricked into giving up information that can be later used in some kind of scam. What is a Cross-site scripting attack and how to prevent it? An example might be an unexpected email to a CFO from their boss asking that they transfer money to a certain account. This technique has raised e-scams to a new level and has lately become the go-to choice for many attacks threatening individuals and businesses. During litigations, a spear phishing e-mail was sent to a restricted group of the U.S. company employees involved in the litigation. Attached is a Word document with instructions. Thankfully, if you’re aware of these types of scams and know what to look out for, you can avoid becoming the next victim. On a personal level, scammers could pose as a business you trust, for example, a bank or a store you’ve shopped at. Corporations […]. Unsurprisingly, tons of data can be found on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Phishing Examples. Here are some of the most frequent ones: Even giants like Facebook and Google haven’t been immune, having lost $100 million via an elaborate Lithuanian email scam in 2018. Tell employees to visit a site directly. What is Bitcoin mining and how can you do it? The breach happened to Ubiquiti Networks, whose company lost $46.7 million after a hacker impersonated a high-ranking executive to authorize a wire transfer that belonged to the hacker. Spear phishing attempts can take many different forms. In what seems like an international spy movie scenario, the Chinese military carried out phishing attacks on Alcoa, an American aluminum supplier. Utilizing a strong password is important as it can help prevent other attacks such as brute force attacks. It tells you to call a number or follow a link and provide information to confirm that you are the real account holder. Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report – Q&A. Spear Phishing Real Life Examples It’s against our every instinct to ignore free money, and hackers … She was targeted by a criminal who used social engineering to get her to hand over a password to an email account. The e-mail subject line read ‘2011 Recruitment Plan.’ The e-mail was crafted well enough to trick one of the employees to retrieve it from their Junk mail folder.” The message contained an Excel spreadsheet titled ‘2011 Recruitment plan.xls’ that hid a zero-day exploit. Phishers may perform research on the user to make the attack more effective. While the majority of phishing attacks are obvious, spear phishing ones are less conspicuous. As opposed to a normal phishing email that is sent to many, the spear phishing email is targeted to a specific individual. If you’ve clicked a link and suspect that malware may have been downloaded, various tools can detect and remove it. Technical solutions can only aid in trying to identify malicious e-mails, and only proper training can help, although not prevent, users from falling preys of social engineering schemes or legitimate-looking e-mails. This is often referred to as “whaling” and is a type of CEO fraud. In fact, businesses spend a total of over $1 billion each year on this type of training. Spear phishing is a targeted form of phishing attack which involves tricking an individual or business into giving up information that can be used as part of a scam. The emails looked real, with the title of “Your Amazon.com order has dispatched,” followed by an order code. Some of the most significant U.S. incidents, related to spear phishing, show how malicious hackers can employ different tactics to gain access even to the most secure and high-level information; these real-life examples show how any organization or individual can be a target and, unfortunately, a victim. They can also do damage in other areas, such as stealing secret information from businesses or causing emotional stress to individuals. In perhaps the most high-profile case in recent years, volunteers and employees of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign fell victim to spear phishing attacks. Restaurant staff gets an email from a sender who wishes to place an order. Spear phishing attacks could also target you on multiple messaging platforms. It now simply redirects to an EFF blog post detailing the scam. The false CEO/ official orders to transfer considerable amounts of funds to a particular account, details of which … This is a form of phishing, but it isn’t targeted. Spear Phishing Prevention Best Practices Spear phishing attacks can lead to dire consequences. Millions of developers and companies build, ship, and maintain their software on GitHub — the largest and most advanced development platform in the world. Spear phishing hackers work diligently to obtain as much personal information about their victims as possible to effectively impersonate trusted contacts, making their spoofed … As explained by the RSA FraudAction Research Labs, regardless of the state-of-the-art perimeter and end-point security controls, security procedures and high-end technology used by a company, attackers still can find a way in. This is usually a C-level employee, like a Chief Executive or Chief Financial Officer. Once the malware is installed, the backdoor contacts the command and control network. That scam was particularly emotionally damaging, whereas others are purely financially motivated. The two e-mails were sent to two small groups of employees; you wouldn’t consider these users particularly high-profile or high-value targets. Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2382970,00.asp. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. The importance of user training in reacting properly to phishing attempts is shown clearly. If you think it may be authentic but are unsure, you can try to verify it first. For example, infiltrating a bank, hospital or university to steal data that severely compromise the organization. The perpetrator typically already knows some information about the target before making a move. The best advice? For example, the FBI has warned of spear phishing scams where the emails appeared to be from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Ubiquiti Networks suffered a $46.7 million loss after it was hit, for instance. Spear phishing is a more selective and effective scheme than traditional phishing plots. http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240187487/FBI-warns-of-increased-spear-phishing-attacks. We have a whole post dedicated to spotting phishing emails, but here are the main takeaways: Spear phishing emails and messages are highly targeted, so it becomes worth the effort on the part of the criminal to spend time making them look like the real deal. Is Facebook profiting from illegal streaming? What’s more, Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report found that phishing is involved in 22 percent of data breaches, more than any other threat action variety. Spear phishing vs phishing. Spearphishing with a link is a specific variant of spearphishing. How to watch Pennyworth season 2 online (from anywhere), How to watch Winter Love Island 2020 online from abroad (stream it free), How to watch Game of Thrones Season 8 free online, How to watch Super Bowl LIV (54) on Kodi: Live stream anywhere, 6 Best screen recorders for Windows 10 in 2020, Best video downloaders for Windows 10 in 2020, 12 best video editing software for beginners in 2020, Best video conferencing software for small businesses, Best video converters for Mac in 2020 (free and paid), Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report, government benefits and job opportunities, What spear phishing is (with examples) and how you can avoid it. However, you should contact the company via a phone number or email from its actual website, not the contact information found in the email. All rights reserved. Real-World Examples of Spear Phishing The largest known case of wire fraud is a direct result of spear phishing, for example. Another benefit of these tools is that they can help you detect a phishing site by default. Using information freely available on social media and company websites, criminals can gather enough information to send personalized trustworthy emails to victims. Retrieved from http://news.verizonenterprise.com/2015/04/2015-data-breach-report-info/. Here are some examples of successful spear phishing attacks. In this attack, the hacker attempts to manipulate the target. Many technology users are still unaware of today’s spear phishing tactics and the evolving methodologies employed by e-scammers. Newer attacks have been tied to state-affiliated espionage for a cause, political or other. The following example illustrates a spear phishing attack’s progression and potential consequences: A spoofed email is sent to an enterprise’s sysadmin from someone claiming to represent www.itservices.com, a database management SaaS provider. SMBs are becoming prime targets for attacks as they are normally “less security aware and do not have the proper defenses in place,” says Ross Walker, Symantec’s director of small business. Spear phishing example. These could be gleaned from a previous phishing attempt, a breached account, or anywhere else they might be able to find out personal data. Spear-Phishing Examples Attackers who use social engineering are adaptable, constantly changing their tactics to increase their chances of success. When they see an opportunity, they exploit it — and COVID-19 is a prime example of attackers using current events to … What are some Common SNMP vulnerabilities and how do you protect your network? For example, infiltrating a bank, hospital or university to steal data that severely compromise the organization. If remembering passwords seems too difficult, a password manager can help. Security awareness shall be the first line of defense against any sort of phishing or more so spear phishing attacks. Take measures to block, filter, and alert on spear phishing e-mails that will improve detection and response capabilities. How to watch the NCAA Frozen Four and Championship on Kodi, How to watch the 2019 NCAA Final Four and Championship game on Kodi, 30+ Best Kodi Addons in December 2020 (of 130+ tested). That email will use fear-mongering to get the target to call a number or … Simply don’t click links or attachments if you have any suspicions whatsoever. A huge targeted attack occurred in 2015 when up to 100 million emails were pushed out to Amazon customers who had recently placed an order. Typically these attackers are looking to steal confidential information. (2015, August 6). Spear phishing attempts targeting businesses It's different from ordinary phishing in that with whaling, the emails or web pages serving the scam take on a more severe or formal look and are usually targeting someone in particular. We have all heard about how the Democratic National Committee (DNC) fell victim to a cyberattack where their email systems were breached during the U.S. presidential race. Retrieved from http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/08/tech-firm-ubiquiti-suffers-46m-cyberheist/, Muncaster, P. (2015, December 21). Former Fed charged in spear-phishing attempt on colleagues. Examples of Spear Phishing. In a spear phishing attempt, a perpetrator needs to know some details about the victim. According to the latest Verizon DBIR, two-thirds of all cyber-espionage-style incidents used phishing as the vector. Retrieved from http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/cybersecurity/2015/05/13/former-fed-spear-phishing/27237155/, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. A whaling attack is a spear phishing attack against a high-level executive. Spear phishing is advanced targeted email phishing. Spear phishing is also a perfect method to gain a foothold into a company´s network unnoticed because a high-quality spear-phishing attack is extremely hard to detect. Examples of Spear Phishing scams. Spear-phishing targets a specific person or enterprise instead of a wide group. Is T-Mobile throttling your bandwidth? Companies like Cofense, KnowBe4, and Webroot provide security awareness training to help prevent such attacks. These actually address the customer by name, making them seem more legitimate than your standard phishing email. If you’re a business owner, it’s crucial to ensure your employees are educated on the topic of phishing attacks, particularly spear phishing. (2015, May 13). If it’s a known scam, chances are you’ll see results stating as much. In a recent scam, the town of Franklin, Massachusetts fell victim to a phishing attack and lost over $500,000 to scammers. Many times, government-sponsored … In 2008, it’s suspected that hackers contacted 19 senior Alcoa employees via email, impersonating a board member of the company. © 2020 Comparitech Limited. Below is an example of an eFax document that was included in the spear phishing campaign. In perhaps the most high-profile case in recent years, volunteers and employees of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign fell victim to spear phishing attacks . The current statistics found in the DBIR 2015 report say we need to do much better in this area. This eventually led to the scammer taking over several social media and email accounts and blackmailing the victim with the contents. An email that requests donations to a religious group or charity associated with something in your personal life. For example, you might get an email telling you you’re about to receive some money, but you just need to provide some personal details first. Ashford, W. (2013, July 4). How the RSA SecurID Hack Worked. As reported by the FBI and according to the Office of Public Affairs of the U.S. Department of Justice in 2014, Chinese Military Cyber Hackers that allegedly stole American trade secrets through cyber espionage were accused by the US Government. Epsilon was the victim of a successful attack in a time when most major e-mail companies (like Google) were a prime target. The goal might be high-value money transfers or trade secrets. Other phishing attempts might ask you to provide your social security number, hand over credit card or banking information, or simply send some money. Crelan Bank in Belgium lost $75.8 million (approximately €70 million) in a CEO fraud … … In the same years and as early as 2010, other spear phishing attacks that were traced to China involved going after source code on many victims’ machines using malware to access Google, Adobe, and other U.S. companies’ system. Almost all online scams start with some form of phishing, but many of these attempts randomly target a large audience. Whaling. Many times, government-sponsored hackers and hacktivists are behind these attacks. Indeed, across the cybersecurity industry, the main nugget of advice to prevent successful spear phishing attempts is education. Spear phishing uses a blend of email spoofing, dynamic URLs and drive-by downloads to … Note the misspelling of the words received and discrepancy as … Retrieved from http://us.norton.com/security_response/phishing.jsp, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved from http://usa.kaspersky.com/about-us/press-center/in-the-news/defending-against-mobile-malware, Krebs, B. It might include a link to a login page where the scammer simply harvests your credentials. Spear phishing … FBI warns of increased spear phishing attacks. Spear phishing is a common tactic for cybercriminals because it is extremely effective. What is Trojan Horse malware and how can you avoid it? Thousands of e-mail messages and attachments were stolen from employees’ computers, including information on the transaction. Here's a small sample of popular phishing emails we've seen over the years. Epsilon Fell to Spear-Phishing Attack. An email stating that your account has been deactivated or is about to expire and you need to click a link and provide credentials. One of the best and popular spear phishing examples is the way RSA unit of EMC was targeted. Time will tell if spear phishing will be an even bigger concern in 2016. Phishing comes in many forms, from spear phishing, whaling and business-email compromise to clone phishing, vishing and snowshoeing. These are especially useful for businesses where a lot is at stake should an attempt be successful. Retrieved from http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-tips-for-spotting-a-phishing-e-mail/, RSA FraudAction Research Labs. Having let down their guard in some way, Epsilon had not discovered that its systems had been breached for some months after the incident in 2011. Clearly, spear phishing poses as a real threat, as it can bypass normal technical anti-threat barriers and exploits users to infiltrate systems. Service sectors (financial services, mainly) is still the most frequent target with the possibility of getting immediate economic rewards by cyber-criminals who are gaining access to networks to steal data and reap the financial benefits quickly. However, some PayPal users have been hit with more targeted spear phishing emails. Whaling. Emails seemingly sent from senior executives directed employees to send funds from a subsidiary in Hong Kong to accounts belonging to third parties. Spear phishing is a more targeted type of phishing. It is fundamental to train employees to recognize phishing messages to protect them against most attacks. Spear phishing definition. Spear phishing requires more thought and time than phishing since it targets a specific victim. Get the latest news, updates & offers straight to your inbox. The cybercriminals masqueraded as a board member and sent out emails to several employees. Unfortunately, all it takes is for one person to fall victim of the scam. The sender is attempting to trick the recipient into revealing confidential information by "confirming" it at the phisher's website. A strange request from a coworker or supervisor, a bank or merchant requesting PII, usernames and passwords via e-mail. Economic reasons are also at the forefront of the possible motives for spear phishing attacks. Whaling. When attackers go after a “big fish” like a CEO, it’s called whaling. Spear Phishing Examples. Spear phishing is a very common form of attack on businesses too. Luckily the actual company systems were not compromised, but the incident shows the relative ease with which a spear phisher can trick victims into performing actions directly using impersonation and information widely available on the internet to produce realistic spoofed e-mails. Some larger-scale spear phishing schemes hit users of large companies, such as those below: PayPal users seem to be the target of endless general phishing attempts. Cybercriminals do the same with the intention to resell confidential data to governments and private companies. In 2011, RSA was attacked using a Flash object embedded in an Excel (.XLS) file that was attached to an e-mail with the subject line “2011 Recruitment Plan”. The report also shares interesting findings on the number of users that still open phishing e-mails (23 percent) and attachments (11 percent) which help hackers compromise systems. (2011, April 1). The emails actually came from the fraudsters and the third-party accounts belonged to them. Filling out an Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) eCrime Report provides valuable data to the Phishing Activity Trends Report each year. FORM 8-K: UBIQUITI NETWORKS, INC. Retrieved from https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1511737/000157104915006288/t1501817_8k.htm, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. CEO Fraud Model. For example, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted lots of schemes centering around government benefits and job opportunities. Most of the large spear phishing breaches have targeted wire transfers and financial transactions, although there are some examples that I’ll be discussing that included data breaches. In this particular attack, the spear phisher “sent two different phishing e-mails over a two-day period. Schwartz, M. (2011, April 11). Link URL. Here are some examples of successful spear phishing attacks. GitHub is where the world builds software. If spear phishing is targeted usually at employees or small businesses (the ‘fish’), then the ‘whale’ in whaling is the ‘Big Fish’ of a high-level member of an organization. The motives can range from economic, quick-cash reasons to more sophisticated industrial espionage, political activism, and cyber-terrorism. For example, posing as someone who went to your old school or is a member of your religious group could get you to open up. "Whaling" is a specific form of phishing that targets high-profile business executives, managers, and the like. An email from an online store about a recent purchase. An example of a phishing email, disguised as an official email from a (fictional) bank. To attract their attention, emails may appear to be legal threats or important complaints. Given that the company provides e-mail marketing services, this goes to show that any organization, even those that make the security of their communication system the center of their business, is at risk of such a threat. The Biggest Cryptocurrency Heists of All Time, Understanding cryptography’s role in blockchains, How to buy and pay with bitcoin anonymously, What bitcoin is and how to buy it and use it. He holds a graduate Certificate in Information Assurance and a Master of Science in Information Technology. Cases involving. In June of 2015, the company lost $46.7 Million because of a spear phishing e-mail. According to John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, “Eccleston sought to compromise, exploit and damage U.S. government computer systems that contained sensitive nuclear weapon-related information with the intent to allow foreign nations to gain access to that material.” Using first-hand knowledge of the organization and personal relationship with other employees, the alleged malicious hacker could have easily crafted legitimate-looking e-mails that could have fooled somebody into opening the door to his attack. Using information freely available on social media and company websites, criminals can gather enough information to send personalized trustworthy emails to victims. A 2017 report by IRONSCALES revealed that spear phishing is increasingly laser designated, with 77 percent of emails targeting ten mailboxes or fewer. The links that the cybercriminal want us to click on will usually be concealed in a button … Millions of customer credit card numbers were stolen. Whaling. RSA was responsible for the cyber security of EMC. Symantec points out how the manufacturing sector has quickly become a primary target. Phishing is a very common element in many types of internet scams that can target thousands of people at once in the hopes that one or two will be fooled. As you can see there are many different approaches cybercriminals will take and they are always evolving. We explain exactly what a spear phishing attack is (with examples) and the best practices to avoid becoming a victim. Let's review a few spear phishing examples: Example 1 - John Smith is a senior chemical engineer working on a high-profile project for a cutting-edge pharmaceutical company. At a minimum, through awareness training, users can learn to. Several high-profile breaches resulting from spear phishing attacks show that attempts to compromise networks can hit different industries through employees at any levels in an organization. Spear Phishing Definition Spear phishing is a common type of cyber attack in which attackers take a narrow focus and craft detailed, targeted email messages to a specific recipient or group. Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a report, http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/cybersecurity/2015/05/13/former-fed-spear-phishing/27237155/, http://www.ic3.gov/media/2013/130625.aspx, http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-and-breaches/spear-phishing-attacks-out-of-china-targeted-source-code-intellectual-property/d/d-id/1086190?page_number=1, http://usa.kaspersky.com/about-us/press-center/in-the-news/defending-against-mobile-malware, http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/08/tech-firm-ubiquiti-suffers-46m-cyberheist/, http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/phishing-e-mails-hook-most/, http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-tips-for-spotting-a-phishing-e-mail/, http://blogs.rsa.com/anatomy-of-an-attack/, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2382970,00.asp, http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-and-breaches/epsilon-fell-to-spear-phishing-attack/d/d-id/1097119, http://us.norton.com/security_response/phishing.jsp, https://www.fbi.gov/pittsburgh/press-releases/2014/u.s.-charges-five-chinese-military-hackers-with-cyber-espionage-against-u.s.-corporations-and-a-labor-organization-for-commercial-advantage, https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1511737/000157104915006288/t1501817_8k.htm, http://news.verizonenterprise.com/2015/04/2015-data-breach-report-info/, Spearphishing meets vishing: New multi-step attack targets corporate VPNs, Phishing attack timeline: 21 hours from target to detection, Overview of phishing techniques: Brand impersonation. One way to do this is to simply run a search for the email or phone number provided. Spear Phishing Real Life Examples Many times, government-sponsored hackers and hacktivists are behind these attacks. Many of today’s browsers have a built-in phishing filter that should be enabled for additional protection, as mentioned by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center web page; Web browsers filters can help prevent the messages from being directly delivered to an inbox. Spear phishing is advanced targeted email phishing. Is it your next IPTV? In early 2016, the social media app Snapchat fell victim to a whaling attack when a high-ranking employee was emailed by a cybercriminal impersonating the CEO and was fooled into revealing employee payroll information. The attacker will usually already have some information about the intended victim which they can use to trick them into giving away more valuable information such as payment details. 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Vulnerabilities exploited include computers, including information on the transaction, you’re covered whether the message is legitimate or.! Using these details, the fraudster aims to instill trust in the users ’ junk mail folder,! Suspicions whatsoever as “whaling” and is a targeted form of phishing that targets high-profile business executives, managers and... Report provides valuable data to governments and private companies anti-threat barriers and exploits users to infiltrate systems several of. About a recent purchase response capabilities revealed that spear phishing … business email compromise attacks, both directly and,! Particularly spear phishing attempts is education PayPal users have been downloaded, various tools can detect and remove it military. Attackers often … usually, the town of Franklin, Massachusetts fell victim a! Call a number or follow a link and suspect that malware may have been used to individuals... 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