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Rewinding the Headline: Where Do Data Breaches Begin?

Posted by Lindsey Havens on Oct 12, '16

Modern threat actors devote huge amounts of time to identifying and exploring new exploits, tactics, and techniques
for circumventing security and compromising corporate networks. 
The majority of headline breaches are initiated by spear phishing attacks, and not only are they sophisticated enough to make it past most spam filters, some are able to fool even seasoned security personnel. 

Identify_Target_PhishLabs_PTI_Report_2016.pngAs part of our Cyber Security Awareness Month series, we take this opportunity to look into the beginning of a data breach, and how you can better prepare or even prevent being the next big headline. This week's offer is a complimentary copy of the PhishLabs' 2016 Phishing Trends & Intelligence Report: Hacking the Human

Your Fate is in Their Hands

It's safe to say that employees all over the world are unprepared to handle the onslaught of social engineering attacks they’re faced with daily. They’re too busy, uninformed, and unsuspecting to identify even the most basic of phishing emails, and that needs to change.

Around 1.5 percent of spam emails contain malicious attachments or URLs, along with content designed to manipulate people into opening them. This technique, known as phishing, has become an overwhelming favorite of threat actors in the past few years, primarily because it’s a cheap, effective, and a fast way to compromise targeted networks.

As outlined by a previous blog post, Why Your Advanced Spam Filter Isn't Enough, a 5,000-person company, holds a high potential of eight security incidents per day due to limitations of current technology controls and human error; data suggests one in five users will click on a malicious link or attachment. 

Now your users might be pretty savvy, but how confident are you that they can withstand that volume of phishing emails? Don’t forget, once a user mistakenly opens an attachment or URL, 81.9 percent of the time your network will be compromised in mere minutes.

Ultimately, no matter how good your security is, malicious emails will make it into your users’ inboxes. And at that point, your fate is in their hands.

What Should You Do About It? 

Threat actors and their tactics are improving in sophistication every day, and there simply isn’t a way to shield your users from 100 percent of all incoming attacks.

You’ll need to invest in the process, and accept the fact that you won’t see results right away. In the long run, though, it’ll be much less expensive and embarrassing than a major data breach.

And it’s not just about filtering. Any time you’re receiving phishing emails, you can use the content and sender information to inform your training program and tighten your security controls. Equally, if you have a threat intelligence platform, you should be identifying intelligence from outside your organization that can be used for the same purpose.

In essence, what we’re talking about here is taking a long-term approach to network security. Allocate the time and resources necessary to implement a full security awareness training program, including reinforcement opportunities, clear escalation routes for suspected phishing attacks, and regular testing, as well as tightening your technical security controls in order to minimize the burden on your users.

There's more to come this week on targeted attacks; sign up for our blog and receive alerts on our Security Awareness Month series. We will also enter you for a chance to win a #PhishRage t-shirt

Topics: Phishing, Data Breach, Spear Phishing

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The PhishLabs Blog is where we share our insights and thoughts on cybercrime and online fraud.

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