Phishing Attacks Continue to Sneak Past Defenses
While the stereotypical phishing attack may be grammatically challenged, the popular attack method continues to be effective, according to Cloudmark's annual threat report.While phishing attacks have a reputation for being poorly written and fairly obvious in their attempts to con users, the attacks continue to be a problem for most companies, according to a security threat report published by Cloudmark on Feb. 11. Ninety-one percent of companies encountered phishing attacks in 2015, with the lion's share—84 percent—of companies claiming attacks successfully snuck past their security defenses, according to a survey of 300 U.S. and UK firms conducted as part of the report. A relatively simple attack—sending a message to the accounting department purportedly from the company CEO—has become quite popular, with 63 percent of companies having encountered the tactic. "Even though companies are taking actions, it is still one of the easiest ways in," Angela Knox, senior director of engineering and threat research for Cloudmark, told eWEEK. "It is much easier for someone to hack a human by going through email than to attempt to find a zero day." Phishing is a low-percentage game. Sending 10,000 emails to get one attachment opened or link clicked by an employee is still a success for the attackers. More targeted phishing, known as spearphishing, requires more of an attacker's time but also has a higher success rate.
Phishing continues to be a primary method through which attackers infiltrate corporate networks—nearly 23 percent of recipients continue to open phishing email messages, and another 11 percent click on attachments, according to last year's Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.