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The Latest Spear Phishing Scams to Pass-Through Your Email Filter

Unfortunately, everything malicious isn’t always caught by your email filtering or anti-virus. Because of the rise in email born attacks over the last few months, we’ve begun debunking some of the most well-known spear phishing emails sent to local business owners. With an estimated 91% of successful data breaches started by spear phishing, this type of scam has garnered a lot of media attention. Once reserved for the C-level executive, spear phishing has grown, targeting managers and other employees as an essential component of a social engineering attack.

Did You Know That 91% of Successful Breaches Start with a Spear Phishing Attack?

1. “Funding for Your Business DocuSign Scam”

One of our partners here at CCS sent this brilliant example of a spear phishing scam, that can get past ANY email or web filtering.

This message sails through filters and protects devices as it’s presented as a close-to-real document. Utilizing Adobe DocuSign, this example is built to grab your information, not to deliver a malicious payload.

DocuSign IT Support Company finds Phishing email example

By reviewing documents, and clicking the entirely legit DocuSign page, it will spawn what appears as a loan application. By completing this form, it will send your information directly to the hackers. Making it even easier for them, towards the bottom of this application there is a place to upload your last three paychecks or pay stubs.

Spear Phishing Email Form Top 1

If someone in your account’s receivables, accounting, or finance department were to submit this information, the damage could be extensive, and bankruptcy has unfortunately become a harsh reality for small-to-medium sized businesses due to the potential repercussions.

Spear Phishing Email Example Form 3

2. Unwitting Job Applicant Victims to Malware Ad Attacks

The way spear phishing works is by evoking trust and credibility to entrap victims into providing information that grants them access to personal records, employee information, and company data.

Like many professionals in the SF Bay Area, I’m on LinkedIn, where thousands of people are searching for employment opportunities. Given you’re on a website that knows your job title, industry sector, GPS Location, etc. it wouldn’t raise suspicion in most cases.

That’s exactly what these hackers were counting on when they hosted several malicious LinkedIn Ads to target a bank employee. The victim was a financial company employee that was contacted by, and even held a Skype call with the potential “new-employer.” Once the interview was conducted, and the employee’s defenses are down, cybercriminals asked the employee to install a program called “ApplicationPDF.exe” that would generate his application.

Because this program was able to bypass anti-virus and suspicion, it’s believed the hackers were attempting to gain access into the network of financial records, debit cards, and control over localized ATMS.

We often begin seeing employees as the easiest line of defense in your cybersecurity. It’s stories like these that continue to keep our clients vigilant with security and elevate the awareness employees have to surround these malicious threats and looking for red flags. In this case, the PDF application was the scam that allowed access into localized network operations.

 

Steps Towards a Spear Phishing Remedy:

By focusing on the unique needs of your network, and it’s users there are low-cost solutions for making major strides in stepping up spear phishing prevention. With the implementation and setup of policies, permissions, and email filtering, begin minimizing the risk your business can incur. As part of our commitment to the SF Bay Area Community, we have begun offering Security Awareness Training for companies looking to strengthen their security posture. We understand the uniqueness of your business, and so do each of our employees. Leverage our staff, and knowledge to toughen-up security today.

Secure Now, or Pay Later: “Collection #1” Data Breach Reports 773 Million Personal Records

A developing story regarding one of, if not the largest data breach dump of all time. Deemed “Collection #1” for its collated structure. Collection #1 was a series of data dumps from over 2,000 databases, and this data breach hits close to home. After being alerted early Saturday, January 19th, 2019, I noticed an odd email forward from a website I’d never seen or heard of, alerted me that an older personal email and password was compromised. Taking this notice, we’ve used our experts to dig deeper into the Collection #1 data breach.

By starting with the raw-data first, Collection #1 is a set of email addresses and passwords that have totaled 2,692,818,238 rows, of spreadsheets, with decrypted passwords. Made up of several smaller breaches organizations, forums, social platforms make up the varying sources. In total, the data creates 1,160,253,228 unique combinations for emails and passwords. (emails are NOT case sensitive) It should be noted, 772,904,991 unique emails and 21,222,975 other personal data records were released on the dark web on Friday, January 18th, 2019.

Origins of this Data

To further heighten the stakes, with the original documentation pictured above, we can see hackers are neatly formatting their data-dumps, and this shows the delimited text formats (commas, semicolons, syntax) further proving the original origin of this data. Posted late last week on the popular dark web service MEGA, over 12,000 separate files were collected, totaling 87GB of data that has since been removed from the dark web site. Referencing the image below, the expanded view shows the file listing and the many alleged sources. (it’s very difficult to discover the source of data breach information)
Clare Computer Solutions MSSP Managed Security Service
What I can say, is I checked, and verified my own personal data, though it was inaccurate, it was credentials, that I personally used several years ago. Like many of you reading this, I’ve bared witness to my data being in these breaches and although it’s always outdated credentials it still provides me with a sense of dismay, though I know it’s not personal.

How “Hashed Passwords” are Used in Hacking

As I’ve mentioned, there was a mix of “hashed” and “de-hashed” passwords that were cracked, and output to plain-text. These massive files are used with automation tools to resplendently attempt numerous credentials. For an example, if you head over to HIBP, and you enter the word “P@assw0rd” it will return the password as being cracked or broken 51,000 times, so this is obviously ill-advised though it meets common password standards, like upper case, lower case, number, and 8 characters long.

So, What’s at risk here?

In short, if you’re involved in this data breach, many of your passwords could already be compromised, in this case, used for credential stuffing. Credential stuffing is the process of automated injection of breaches usernames, emails and password pairs to gain fraudulent access to your accounts, once reporting with access, they leverage this same list across banking, emails, and website servers.

The cold reality of this situation is 140 million emails were taken with 21 million in passwords not already disclosed or discovered. My hope is that many will be prompted to broaden their security posture and look past the basic steps in password difficulty. There is something big to take away from all these breaches occurring. Two-step verification could prevent access to many business’ vital applications that are now being moved to the cloud or online.

To learn more about the launch of our latest security initiatives, head over to our Managed Security Services page, to learn the latest technology used to combat cyber attacks in for small to medium business. Providing greater uptime maximization, and peach of mind through fully securing your network.