Published on May 4th, 2017 | by Akshay Nayak

Gone Phishing

The cyber war currently being waged by ethical hackers and cyber criminals on multiple fronts — encompassing computer, network, and software vulnerabilities — tends to lean in either direction depending on who’s having a bad day. However, there is one attack technique where the bad guys have the upper hand: social engineering.

The adage, “Humans are the weakest link in an organization’s security,” has never been truer.  Today’s companies have various security measures and controls in place to combat a multitude of threats, including Firewalls, Data Loss Prevention systems, Intrusion Prevention systems, Network Access Controls and Endpoint protection such as Anti-virus programs.  These tools have undergone massive changes in the last few years in order to tackle the proliferation of attack vector types.  But thanks to social engineering, an organization could have multiple layers of security and be spending millions of dollars on bleeding edge firewalls, IPSs and UTMs (Unified Threat Management systems),  but still be breached because one employee fell victim to a spear phishing email.

Phishing (or specifically spear phishing) remains one of the primary methods of initial infection, paving the way for other steps of the hacking process such as internal reconnaissance, lateral movement, and ultimately data destruction or exfiltration. This can be observed for many of the recent high-profile breaches caused by advanced threat actors or nation states.

Our upcoming series of blog posts will cover different phishing techniques that attackers use to infiltrate an organization’s network, and offer tips on what you can do to mitigate these threats. Watch for entries on the following topics in the coming days & weeks:

  • Appending file extensions
  • Right-to-Left mark attacks
  • Homograph Attacks
  • Using trusted domains – Visual similarity and TypoSquatting
  • Leveraging HTTPS in phishing
  • Special File Extensions

Stay tuned!

Akshay Nayak is a Threat Researcher at SS8. In addition to threat hunting, he likes listening to Bollywood music and playing FIFA. A big Game of Thrones fan, he is one of those people who likes the books better than the TV series.

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