Categories: Special ReportTechnology

Go Phish!

E-mail scams are getting more numerous, harder to detect and exploiting more vulnerabilities
In today’s advanced world of high-tech cybercrime, one of the most alarming vulnerabilities faced by law-abiding web users is also one of the most common: Phishing. According to the website techtarget.com, phishing is defined as “a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in e-mail or other communication channels.” The unsuspecting victim is urged to click on a link or open an attachment, which allows the poser to access login credentials, bank accounts or even take over the device.

The term originated in the early days when black hat operators would use the common HTML tag "<><" to hide references to stolen credit cards or other illegal activity from chat room filters. Since the symbol looked like a fish, the name stuck.

Rather than do the heavy lifting of code manipulation and firewall breaching, phishing relies on very human failings – ignorance, carelessness or sometimes, greed – to bypass the target’s best security efforts. Largely phishing scams rely on sheer numbers to overwhelm common sense and lure some unsuspecting user into giving away the store. Research from the Anti-Phishing Working Group reveals the number of phishing attacks rose in the third quarter of 2019, to a high level not seen since late 2016.

According to the latest E-mail Fraud and Identity Deception Trends report from e-mail security firm Agari, three billion phishing e-mails are sent daily. That works out to an average 35,108 phishing incidents faced by organizations annually. With numbers like that, the bad actors reason, somebody is bound to click on something they shouldn’t. For employees, that can lead to analysis-paralysis: “Should I open that link to what claims to be a million-dollar invoice? Why take the risk?”

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