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What is Barrel Phishing?

Barrel phishing (double-barrel phishing) typically refers to a general phishing tactic that involves two or more separate emails, to steal sensitive information or data from unsuspecting victims. This type of phishing has become increasingly common and is a growing concern for both individuals and organizations.

Barrel Phishing Explained

Barrel phishing, also known as double-barrel phishing or multi-stage phishing, while not a specific attack, typically refers to a general phishing tactic that involves two or more separate emails, to steal sensitive information or data from unsuspecting victims. This type of phishing has become increasingly common and is a growing concern for both individuals and organizations.

There are several types of barrel phishing attacks, including:

  • Impersonation: A type of cyberattack in which the attacker poses as a trusted source or a well-known organization to gain trust and access sensitive information. The attacker may use email, phone calls, or other forms of communication to trick the target into revealing confidential information or taking specific actions

  • Typosquatting: This is a tactic in which the attacker creates a website that resembles a legitimate one, with the goal of tricking the recipient into entering sensitive information into the fake site instead of the real one.

  • Email Spoofing: This attack involves an email that falsely appears to have been sent by a trustworthy source. The email often contains a link that takes the recipient to a fraudulent website.

  • Pharming: The attacker redirects the traffic from authentic websites to their counterfeit versions to collect personal information from the unsuspecting users.

How Does Barrel Phishing Work?

For an attacker targeting a business, barrel phishing starts with the initial stage, where the attacker sends an email or message to the victim posing as a trustworthy source, but most commonly, this first message does not contain any malicious content. The goal of the initial message is to establish trust with the target within the organization by posing as a coworker, partner, or executive (e.g. CEO Fraud/V.I.P impersonation).

The second stage of barrel phishing involves the attacker sending another email or message that contains the malicious content or request for sensitive information. These follow-up emails and messages leverage malicious attachments or links to fraudulent pages to obtain login credentials, also known as credential harvesting. This second stage can often result in the attacker gaining even more sensitive information or control over the victim's device.

How to Identify Double-Barrel Phishing

Barrel phishing can be difficult to detect since the attacker is more patient and the malicious intent of the attack isn't as straightforward. Attackers often use impersonation tactics using familiar names, logos, or branding to make the phishing attempt appear legitimate. However, there are several warning signs that can help identify double-barrel phishing:

  1. Unusual sender or sender's email address
  2. Emails with misspellings or special characters
  3. Urgent or threatening language
  4. Requests for financial or sensitive information
  5. The presence of typos or grammatical errors
  6. Incorrect or outdated branding or logos

How to Protect Against Barrel Phishing

Since barrel phishing is a serious threat to organizations, it's important to take steps proactive measures to protect against it. Implementing the following security measures can help ensure that organizations remain secure against barrel phishing and other types of cyber attacks. Effective measures include:

  1. Advanced Email Security: Implement an advanced email security solution that incorporates multiple layers of protection, such as real-time threat intelligence and advanced threat detection utilizing behavioral analysis to spot advanced malicious intent. This solution can significantly reduce the risk of a successful double-barrel phishing attack

  2. Employee Awareness and Training: Educate employees on how to identify phishing emails and the importance of keeping sensitive information secure. Regular training sessions and simulated phishing campaigns can help employees recognize phishing emails and understand the consequences of falling for these types of attacks.

  3. Two-Factor Authentication: Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) to add an extra layer of security to your organization's systems. Requiring a second form of authentication, such as a code sent to a mobile device, before logging into an account makes it more difficult for an attacker to gain access to sensitive information.

  4. Regular Security Updates: Keep all software and systems up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates to prevent exploits and vulnerabilities from being exploited by attackers.


IRONSCALES Protects against Barrel Phishing

IRONSCALES’ self-learning anti-phishing platform uses machine learning to fight barrel phishing and other targeted a malicious-intent based email attacks for you. NLP technology ensures protection against suspicious emails, whether they come from sources inside or outside your domain. Warning banners alert about threats and make it quick and easy for C-suites to report suspicious emails and get on with their important tasks.

Beyond the automated and technology-based protections provided by IRONSCALES the platform directly integrates real-world phishing simulation testing and personalized security awareness training to educate employees on advanced identification and prevention best practices.

Learn more about IRONSCALES advanced anti-phishing platform here.

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