Opportunistic cybercriminals are tapping into the wealth of personal and behavioral data available online, or launching spear-phishing attacks intending to trick recipients into transferring money into bogus third-party accounts.
That was a major conclusion drawn from San Mateo, Calif.-based security provider Agari’s Executive Brief: Top Phishing Attacks, which reviewed some of the past year’s most newsworthy phishing attacks, lessons learned from them and available countermeasures.
One common fraud theme was identity deception.
“Within enterprises, scammers are convincing their victims to give away confidential information or transfer money into a fraudulent bank account by posing as a trusted business executive, often using highly-targeted emails or social media messages,” Agari revealed.
Alternatively, fraudsters are attempting to spread malware and compromise IT environments by tricking recipients into opening an email attachment or clicking on a link to a corrupted web page.
“The attacker has a myriad of ways to commit fraud, install malware, seek out privileged access accounts, or obtain confidential information and valuable data,” the Agari brief warned.
Cybercriminals harvest personal data and learn specific company processes. Once armed with this information, they target selected employees with a spear-phishing email designed to gain access to confidential business information or persuade them to transfer money into an unknown account.
Increasingly, fraudsters are targeting specific individuals with sophisticated spoofs pretending to be from financial institutions, government departments and major brands. Often the emails will have “Attention,” “Important Notification” or “Your account has been revoked” in the subject line.
Two recent examples of so-called CEO fraud involved Ubiquiti Networks’ finance department, which transferred $46.7 million into an overseas account held by external third parties; and, a Mattel finance executive wired more than $3 million to the Bank of Wenzhou after the supposed new CEO requested a vendor payment.