Phishing is the fraudulent act during which an attacker pretends to be a reputable source via a communication channel (most commonly e-mail) with the sole purpose of acquiring the intended victim's credentials to then access sensitive databases or other private information storing areas. The attacker will usually attach a malicious file or link to the communication channel and after the intended victim falls for this ploy can then use the acquired information to blackmail or extort the victim for confidential business information.
Phishing is the most popular method of attack because it is much easier to trick an employee to click or download a malicious file than it is to attempt to hack into a business's network and other systems.
How is Phishing used?
A common first step in a targeted phishing attack is to gain as much personal information on the victim as possible which usually includes searching their social media accounts to collect vital information to create a believable email. There are also plenty of tools to automatically scrape the internet for the emails of an organization’s employees.
Furthermore, current events such as political campaigns or natural disasters can be used to make the email more interesting and enticing to the victims. The attacker can then craft a variety of malicious content to the link, including obfuscation of the URL to make it look legitimate....or a malicious link that can log the victim's keystrokes and record the information and credentials they enter.
Spreading of Malware
How can Phishing hurt a business?
Once a phishing attempt is successful and an attacker gains login credentials to breach a network, they are free to either sit in the network and gather data (ex. Traffic in the network) or cause as much damage as possible by using vital data for financial gain or delete it altogether. In the event of a breach, it is important that the damage is mitigated as much as possible and that there is a proper incident response plan in place to ensure the business does not suffer further damages on their network as well as legal consequences.
emails in 2016 contained malware.
- 76% of organizations reported being victims of phishing attacks in 2017.
- The 3 most common impacts of phishing are malware infection, compromised accounts, and loss of data.
- The approximate loss of employee productivity due to phishing is 63%.
- A 2017 survey found that 61% of millennials and 23% of users aged 55 and older knew what phishing is.