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Don’t Get Reeled into a Phishing Scam

BY eSentire

September 1, 2021 | 5 MINS READ


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Cybersecurity Strategy

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It’s an age-old story: you open an email sent from your bank notifying you of suspicious activity in your account and you have to log in to verify that activity. You click the link provided and when you try to log in, you continually see an error message. Eventually, you give up, open a new browser tab to go to the bank’s website, and are relieved to find out everything is as it should be.

Phishing, though an old tactic, continues to be popular due to its simplicity and effectiveness. When targeting organizations, the primary objective of phishing is simple: to gain a foothold into the company’s environment and launch a cyber attack.

Phishing scams target the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain: the user. In fact, a recent survey showed that 57% of survey respondents said their organization had dealt with a successful phishing attack in 2020.

The industry has seen a notable uptick in overall phishing activity and it’s likely that the pandemic, in part, drove that spike. Although cyber criminals have used COVID-19 to lure their victims into visiting fake websites and downloading malicious payloads, they have also taken advantage of organizations being forced to move to a remote workforce.

Although conducting phishing and security awareness training programs are required across numerous industries, many organizations settle for one-and-done training programs, especially if they are using licensed training modules. While the cybersecurity teams address issues that may arise with network, cloud, and endpoint security, there is still a need for CISOs to ensure that the internal end users are properly trained and aware of their role in preventing a successful breach.

Unless your employees are retaining the information they are learning, your organization may still be challenged with low cyber awareness and opportunities to improve its cyber resiliency. Additional challenges that organizations face include:

What Phishing Scams Look Like in 2021

Today’s phishing emails are much more sophisticated. Threat actors have perfected the art of designing the ideal email that not only mimics the email layout of the sender, but mirroring the language used by the sender as well. This helps to convince their target that the message is from a trustworthy source, like a bank, healthcare organization, government department, or even a friend.

Although traditional phishing emails were sent as bulk campaigns to average individuals, there has been a massive uptick in the use of business email compromise (BEC) attacks. According to the FBI, BEC attacks target “businesses that perform electronic payments such as wire or automated clearing house transfers. The scam is frequently carried out when a subject compromises legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques resulting in an unauthorized transfer of funds.”

Threat actors have relied on phishing tactics such as spear-phishing and whaling to conduct BEC attacks:

Spear-phishing and whaling scams can be even harder to spot, especially if the sender is pretending to be someone you know. With BEC attacks, employees can easily be sent a simple email from someone impersonating the company’s CEO asking them to wire a large sum of money immediately.

How Can Users Spot a Phishing Scam?

No matter how real it looks, take every email with a grain of salt — especially if it’s one you weren’t expecting to receive. Some red flags include:

If you receive a message that you’re not 100% certain is real:

Conducting Managed Phishing and Security Awareness Training

In today’s threat landscape, security leaders shouldn’t expect that a one-time training exercise for their employees will be sufficient in raising security awareness. The key is to implement a training program that can be iterated upon, especially since employees don’t always understand where they go wrong, limiting their ability to ward off real threats.

A comprehensive phishing and security awareness training program tests the capabilities of your team on understanding phishing threats and the escalation procedure, and more importantly, trains them on a continuous basis.

With eSentire’s Managed Phishing and Security Awareness Training solution, when an employee fails a phishing simulation, they are notified immediately of the result and are required to take additional training to learn more.

In fact, we have robust phishing libraries that consist of hundreds of templates to ensure that your employees are tested against real-world scenarios, not commoditized and easy-to-spot templates.

Additional benefits of eSentire’s Managed Phishing and Security Awareness Training include:

Drive Behavioral Change with Your Employees

On September 14, 2021, Mark Sangster, Vice President and Industry Security Strategist, will be partnering with (ISC)2 to explore how organizations can build a comprehensive training and testing program that leverages realistic threat scenarios to foster context-relevant security awareness that drives behavioral change.

Register for the webinar here.

Learn more about eSentire’s Managed Phishing and Security Awareness Training, book a meeting with us today.


eSentire, Inc., the Authority in Managed Detection and Response (MDR), protects the critical data and applications of 2000+ organizations in 80+ countries, across 35 industries from known and unknown cyber threats by providing Exposure Management, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services designed to build an organization’s cyber resilience & prevent business disruption. Founded in 2001, eSentire protects the world’s most targeted organizations with 65% of its global base recognized as critical infrastructure, vital to economic health and stability. By combining open XDR platform technology, 24/7 threat hunting, and proven security operations leadership, eSentire's award-winning MDR services and team of experts help organizations anticipate, withstand and recover from cyberattacks. For more information, visit: www.esentire.com and follow @eSentire.

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