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What is the most successful cyber-attack method?

03 August, 2023

In today's digital world, where convenience and connectivity reign supreme, we find ourselves immersed in the sheer scale of the internet.

From checking sports scores to making financial transactions, attending meetings across the world or immersing ourselves in video games, our lives are ever more intertwined with the online realm.

However, the benefits of the digital age come with the looming threat of cyber-attacks that can jeopardise the health and success of businesses worldwide.

Among the various attack methods phishing stands out as, by some distance, the most successful.

In this blog post, we will delve into the world of phishing, explore its psychology, discuss why email providers struggle to protect users, and provide effective strategies for organisations to defend against this pervasive threat.

What is the most successful cyber-attack method?

According to recent analysis from Verizon, social engineering remains the most successful attack method, being responsible for a staggering 90% of all successful cyber-attacks. While social engineering attacks are carried out by phishing at a rate of 44%, the 3rd most common attack vector is using employee credentials interestingly.

What is phishing?

Phishing is an online scam where cybercriminals send deceptive emails that masquerade as legitimate sources.

These fraudulent emails are often meticulously crafted to deceive unsuspecting recipients into divulging sensitive information or inadvertently downloading malware.

Two common types of malware used in phishing attacks are ransomware, which locks a victim's computer and demands payment for access restoration, and Trojan horses, which can spy on users and create backdoor access to their systems.

The widespread vulnerability: A lack of phishing awareness

One of the primary reasons phishing attacks are so successful is due to a need for more awareness among individuals and employees.

In today's interconnected world, virtually every employee has access to email, making them potential targets for phishing attempts.

A single click on a malicious link or attachment can lead to devastating consequences for an entire organisation.

Spear phishing: Targeted and more dangerous

Spear phishing is a specialised form of phishing that poses an even more significant threat.

In this sophisticated approach, cybercriminals tailor their scam emails to specific individuals using the personal information they have acquired.

Addressing recipients by name and job title, spear phishing emails appear incredibly convincing, making it challenging for even tech-savvy individuals to discern their authenticity.

High-profile individuals, such as CEOs, managing directors, and key personnel, are frequent targets of spear phishing attacks.

Challenges faced by email providers

While email providers implement spam filters and blocklists to protect users, phishing attackers continuously evolve tactics to bypass these measures.

Research has shown that a substantial 75% of phishing emails successfully evade email filters, underscoring the challenges providers face in combating this relentless threat.

What can your organisation do about phishing?

To combat phishing effectively, organisations must implement a three-pronged approach:

Educating employees on phishing awareness:

Phishing training should be a cornerstone of an organisation's defence against attacks.

Instead of merely providing courses and articles, simulated phishing training exercises should be conducted to offer employees hands-on experience in recognising and avoiding scams.

Organisations can bolster their protection against scams, ransomware, hackers, and other cyber threats by equipping employees with the tools to identify phishing emails.

Implementing a secure email gateway:

A Secure Email Gateway (SEG) is a crucial component in limiting the number of phishing emails reaching employees.

Using advanced spam filtering, SEGs automatically quarantine or block suspicious emails, reducing the risk of users falling victim to phishing attempts.

Additionally, anti-spoofing controls like DMARC, SPF, and DKIM can help secure an organisation's domains against spoofing, making it difficult for attackers to use similar email addresses to deceive recipients.

Deploying effective anti-malware solutions:

Besides comprehensive phishing training, organisations should implement robust anti-malware programs to safeguard against the harmful effects of malware injections.

An efficient anti-malware program can effectively detect and neutralise these threats, even if an employee accidentally clicks on a malicious link or attachment.

Phishing remains the most successful cyber-attack method due to its ability to exploit human psychology and take advantage of a lack of awareness.

To protect against phishing attacks, organisations must empower their employees with phishing training and provide them with the right tools, such as Secure Email Gateways and anti-malware solutions.

By remaining vigilant and proactive, businesses can fortify their defences against phishing attacks and preserve the integrity and success of their operations in this ever-evolving digital landscape.

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