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5 Successful
Anti-Phishing Tools

Phishing poses a threat to all businesses and organizations. In fact, nearly a third of data breaches involve some type of phishing attack. Unlike other forms of cybersecurity threats, phishing uses psychological tricks to get people to expose their personal information, and thus it has been historically very difficult to combat.

Fortunately, there are several successful tools and processes that all businesses can use to stay safe from phishing attacks. In this article, we’ll dive into these techniques and discuss how you can apply them to combat phishing at scale.

<p>Phishing poses a threat to all businesses and organizations. In fact, nearly a third of data breaches involve some type of phishing attack. Unlike other forms of cybersecurity threats, phishing uses psychological tricks to get people to expose their personal information, and thus it has been historically very difficult to combat.</p>
<p>Fortunately, there are several successful tools and processes that all businesses can use to stay safe from phishing attacks. In this article, we’ll dive into these techniques and discuss how you can apply them to combat phishing at scale.</p>

What is Anti-Phishing?

Anti-phishing is the practice of using both human and software processes to prevent or remediate phishing attacks or scams where attackers attempt to extract sensitive data or personal information by impersonating a trusted source.

Phishing isn’t new. For decades, scammers have used email and other routes to try to trick unsuspecting victims to volunteer sensitive information like passwords, banking information, social security numbers, and more.

<h2 class="irn-padding-b-1d5">What is Anti-Phishing?</h2>
<p dir="ltr">Anti-phishing is the practice of using both human and software processes to prevent or remediate phishing attacks or scams where attackers attempt to extract sensitive data or personal information by impersonating a trusted source.</p>
<p>Phishing isn&rsquo;t new. For decades, scammers have used email and other routes to try to trick unsuspecting victims to volunteer sensitive information like <a target="_blank" href="https://ironscales.com/blog/fake-login-pages-spoof-prominent-brands-phishing-attacks/">passwords</a>, banking information, social security numbers, and more.</p>

However, as typical phishing practices have become obvious to the average person, attackers have gotten much more sophisticated in their techniques and targeting practices. It’s important, therefore, that businesses, employees, and individuals understand where the threats really lie today.

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<p>However, as typical phishing practices have become obvious to the average person, attackers have gotten much more sophisticated in their techniques and targeting practices. It’s important, therefore, that businesses, employees, and individuals understand where the threats really lie today.</p>
</p><a target="_blank" href="/ebook/fake-login-pages/">Download Our eBook>></a><br>
The Most Creative Fake Login Pages Against The Biggest Brands In Tech.</p>

Understanding Phishing Threats

Phishing is a constantly evolving practice and attackers are continuing to get more sophisticated with their techniques.
Phishing attacks are increasingly successful due to some subtle tactics, which include but are not limited to:

Email Spoofing

A scammer sends an email with a forged sender address. 

Due to the security limitations of email protocols like SMTP, it is up to the email provider and other third party software systems to try to determine when an email has been spoofed.

Check out our 3 part series on Understanding DMARC: What’s Driving All the Hype?

Example of email impersonation
The Four Major Types Of Email Spoofing Are:
1. Exact sender name impersonation.

This is the most common type of email spoofing and involves the forged sender address resembling that of a close colleague or friend.

Example: SteveJobs@techcompanyxyz.com
2. Similar sender name impersonation.

The forged email appears to come from a trusted source with minor errors that can easily be overlooked even by a well trained eye.

Example: SteveJabs@techcompanyxyz.com
3. Look alike/cousin domain spoofing.

Significantly less common than the first two types of spoofing, this requires scammers to register the domain to set the right authentication records in the DNS.

Example: SteveJobs@aaple.com
4. Exact domain spoofs.

This is the rarest type of email spoofing technique used, but not impossible to encounter. The forged email domain exactly matches the spoofed domain.

Example: SteveJobs@apple.com
1. Exact sender name impersonation.

This is the most common type of email spoofing and involves the forged sender address resembling that of a close colleague or friend.

Example: SteveJobs@techcompanyxyz.com
2. Similar sender name impersonation.

The forged email appears to come from a trusted source with minor errors that can easily be overlooked even by a well trained eye.

Example: SteveJabs@techcompanyxyz.com
3. Look alike/cousin domain spoofing.

Significantly less common than the first two types of spoofing, this requires scammers to register the domain to set the right authentication records in the DNS.

Example: SteveJobs@aaple.com
4. Exact domain spoofs.

This is the rarest type of email spoofing technique used, but not impossible to encounter. The forged email domain exactly matches the spoofed domain.

Example: SteveJobs@apple.com
Business Email Compromise

Business email compromise is an attack intended to obtain employee credentials and access sensitive information using social engineering tactics combined with tactics such as email spoofing or email compromise via phishing attacks or keystroke logging. Often the end goal is to trick the targeted party into wiring money into the wrong bank accounts.

See below the several different forms of Business email compromise:

Phishing attacks become increasingly risky when targeted at executives, managers, and others in the organization with access to sensitive information and/or funds.
CEO Fraud & Executive Fraud

Using email spoofing or business email compromise, an attacker impersonates the head of an organization or department to coerce employees into sharing sensitive information.

This often happens at particularly large organizations where a lower-level employee is less likely to question their CEO or head of department such as the CFO or HR. For example, the attacker may instruct employees to initiate a wire transfer to an external organization.

Example of CEO / Executive Fraud
Whaling

A subset of spear phishing, where the attacker goes after high-value targets such as celebrities or politicians. In general the conversion on this is lower since most so-called whales have security teams and processes in place to prevent such attacks.

However, the implications are much greater when they do happen, as such high profile people can often influence politics, markets, and more. The infamous 2016 leak of Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails was the direct result of a whaling attack.

Whaling explained with example of fake "change your password" invitation
Vendor Account Compromise

This nearly undetectable scam involves attackers taking over ongoing email threads between the business and the vendor. Once they've subtly inserted themselves into the conversation, they can exploit the well-established relationship to attack the organization.

Vendor Account Compromise Example Email
Invoice Fraud

Attackers will impersonate a brand, internal employee , trusted external partner or vendor to gain and use inappropriate access to internal accounts to observe payment and deal processes.

Using this information, they send fraudulent invoices that closely or exactly mimic real invoices through a combination of spoofed and compromised vendor accounts.

Invoice Fraud Email Example
Extortion

A target receives an email from a scammer who claims to have embarrassing or incriminating information. The scammer threatens to release the information if the target does not pay up, and backs up this threat by revealing sensitive data. Often the data leveraged as proof was previously leaked in a data breach, unbeknownst to the target.

Example of Extortion Email

5 Layers of a Successful
Anti-Phishing Strategy

Many companies want to implement the “best” technique or solution, but a successful approach to anti-phishing requires a comprehensive approach that may combine several different layers. Most companies will have to combine incident responders, intelligent decisions, and machine learning to truly protect against phishing.

Here we’ll take a look at the five most important techniques for combating and preventing phishing attacks:

1. Employee Education

The least technical, but still very effective, technique to protect a business from phishing is training employees on how phishing works and what to look out for to avoid being compromised. For instance, if a suspicious email has an outbound link in it, employees should learn to check the domain of the URL and verify if it is correctly associated with the sender.

However, phishing is an evolving threat and thus simple awareness of it is not sufficient because phishing preys on human error and weakness, using social engineering and nobody is immune from a well crafted attack - even IT professionals.

But companies need to continue to educate their employees to keep up with these threats. For example, simulation training allows a company to run fake phishing campaigns to teach employees of various different attack techniques and ensure they’re able to flag and report them.

Learn More >>

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2. Advanced Malware and URL Protection

Traditional URL scanning and malware detection systems will scan the source code of pages to determine if the page signatures match that of known attacks or if the pages try to automatically download malicious code. The issue with this is that the analysis is static and easy for attackers to work around by providing polymorphic versions of the same landing page so that the different variant signatures won’t match the known attack forms.

To really combat the threat, organizations need to utilize more advanced techniques such as deep learning and visual learning so that the system can determine if a URL or landing page looks suspicious and dynamically evolve as attackers adjust their approaches.

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Digital Codes
3. API Mailbox-level Intelligence

Business email compromise (BEC) is particularly difficult to detect using traditional techniques like gateway security tools and domain blocklists. Rather than simply trying to prevent unwanted traffic from entering a network, organizations need to start at the mailbox-level to detect patterns in emails and communication to learn what good and bad emails look like in order to flag suspicious behavior.

Know who is sending what to your inbox. IRONSCALES works from the inside out by building unique profiles for each employee based on communication history, content analysis (NLP), internal, external relationship profiles, and other metadata to detect anomalies.

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4. Collaborative Threat Hunting

Attackers continue to get more advanced in their phishing approaches and thus a static prevention system is insufficient to protect from evolving threats.

Decentralized threat intelligence means leveraging the power of security teams around the world to help protect against new and evolving attacks. In the same way that platforms such as Airbnb and Waze consolidate and distribute information among users.

That means being able to anticipate and identify attacks that happen anywhere in the world before they compromise your companies mailboxes.

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Digital World
5. AI Powered Phishing Incident Response

IT departments need to have a plan in place on how to handle and respond to phishing attempts. This is where a phishing incident response comes into play. When an employee or software application reports a phishing attempt, the IT department should have an explicit plan on how to triage, analyze, and respond to it. This could involve action items such as adjusting spam filters and notifying employees.

However, manual configuration and deletions are not sufficient to remediate attacks because the average time it takes an employee to click a phishing email is 82 seconds according to the Verizon DBIR report. Incident response systems need to be able to automatically detect and respond to morphing phishing attacks in real-time.

Learn More >>

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Combat Phishing With Anti-Phishing Software

With phishing getting more advanced by the day, businesses need a way to stay ahead of the attackers to avoid compromising their information security. Anti-phishing software can be an extremely valuable asset to aid in detecting and removing phishing attempts. IRONSCALES is a self-learning email security platform that provides all the tools necessary to keep a business safe from evolving phishing threats.

Try a free trial of IRONSCALES to see how you can keep your business safe from phishing.

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