Phishing attacks are one of the most common forms of security challenges at both individual and organizational levels. Under such attacks, cybercriminals try to gain unauthorized access to legit login credentials, credit card details, and other sensitive data. The risks of phishing run high as they often scam large organizations by impersonating a trusted entity to lure victims through emails, social media platforms, phone calls, and text messages. As per Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 32% of data breaches and 78% of cyber-espionage incidents and backdoor installations of 2018, involved phishing activities. Businesses, indeed, are a consistent target for the same and hence must form a strong anti-phishing strategy.
This article explains various reliable cybersecurity strategies to assist businesses in combating inevitable phishing attacks.
What Should Be Your Anti-Phishing Strategy?
The listed anti-phishing strategy focuses on an aggressive approach towards mitigating phishing attacks so that the potential gains of an attacker reduce to a significant level. These strategies ensure the disruption of ongoing phishing operations.
This is a traditional aggressive approach where organizations detect and shut down all the phishing sites targeting their customer base. For putting this strategy to practice, the concerned security professional needs to collect and process email and web data from a diverse range of sources. This will help in increasing the visibility to detect the attack. Once detected successfully, shut down these malicious sites. Organizations with top-class tools, even after initiating the process, can’t shut down a phishing site instantly.
Along with that, the email accounts used to launch the phishing attack should also be taken down. In such a way, it gets easy to prevent the misuse of stolen credentials. Every phishing site may operate multiple phishing campaigns. In such cases, shutting down one can disable other operations too.
Note: Recover stolen data or login credentials. An in-depth analysis of the phishing attack can uncover the drop site. Recovering stolen data or compromised accounts before the attacker attempts to fraud will minimize the negative impact of the attack. Ensure that the stolen data gets recovered before you initiate its permanent shut down.
Blocking Access to Phishing Sites
Even when a phishing site is called to be shut down; it takes a few hours to process the operation during which the site remains active. During this period, customers can still visit the site and fall victim by submitting their login credentials. Blacklisting confirmed phish sites from different internet browsers and frequently used anti-virus software can help minimize the risk to a great extent.
Phishing Kit Analysis
Tracking and analyzing the phish kit used in carrying out the attack will help in understanding a great deal about the nature of the attack. It will disrupt the malicious intent of the attacker and prevent the victims from this social engineering attack. The used phish kit can be found on the webservers. Numerous websites have open directory indexing, which can help security professionals find the kit. In case, the directory can’t be accessed, then take a look at the phish URL, and you’ll get the directory name. For convenient access, attackers usually name the directory and the name of the kit the same.
For instance, the phish URL is http://www.hackedsite.com/shop/images/medium/online.xyzbank.com/xyz/index.html; then the phish kit location will be http://www.hackedsite.com/shop/images/medium/online.xyzbank.com.zip.
On analysis, the phish kit will reveal the stored location (or drop site) for stolen data (the email account or the sites used for the same). Attackers sometimes use obfuscation techniques to hide the drop site. In such cases, reach for expert’s help to decode the drop site.
Shutting Down Phishing Mailer Programs
Under thorough analysis, you might come across the mailer program used to launch the phishing campaign. The information gathered from the headers of the phishing email will help you identify the webserver through which the email was sent, thus, revealing the location of the program on the webserver. You’ll get the required information needed to eliminate the mailer program. These programs used for launching phishing campaigns are rarely customized, making it easy to identify them. Once identified, you can take them down so that your customers stay safe from these attacks.
Baiting with Fake Accounts
As the name implies, “baiting” is a technique to track the operational flow of a phishing attack. With this method, the gathered intelligence can be used to prevent fraud from happening. The procedure includes creating fake accounts as bait, exposing their login credentials to phishing sites, and monitoring the fake accounts for suspicious activities. The method can be used to identify the IP address of the attacker and other important details useful for tracking down the perpetrator. Such kind of detailed analysis helps in understanding the modus operandi of the attacker, enabling the security professionals to prevent phishing attacks with the help of aggressive strategies.
Taking Law Enforcement Support
Another good anti-phishing strategy is to arrest and prosecute the minds behind the cyberattack. It is true that because of the frequent phishing attacks, even reporting them doesn’t lead to appropriate law enforcement action. But, reporting them with all the required intelligence will lead the law enforcement authorities to the culprits.
Organizations have followed various precautionary and preventive methods to stay protected from phishing attacks. But these malicious campaigns have succeeded many times in finding an easy route to secure infrastructure of organizations. It’s time that these companies adopt an aggressive approach to defend their systems and valuable assets against sophisticated phishing attacks.
With a huge number of active phishing campaigns, security professionals are required to have in-depth knowledge of phishing attacks. If you are a security analyst, you should know about different social engineering attacks and other attacks which use phishing as an attack vector. For comprehensive learning on anti-phishing strategies and earning industry demanded hands-on experience, take a look at our Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH). It is a lab-intensive program that majorly focuses on transforming acquired knowledge into practically applicable skillsets. The program helps in understanding the mindset of a hacker and using the same expertise to develop defensive strategies.