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Over the last decade, malicious emails have continued to use increasingly sophisticated methods of deception. In the old days, an email attack might have shown several signs of it being fake. Perhaps a person posing as a long-lost relative, for instance, who is notified of a recent inheritance. However, nowadays, the attackers have leveled up.
Information security awareness among staff can help you prevent or stop cyber-attacks, thus protecting you from the associated risks that can potentially bankrupt your company.
The first step in any attack is reconnaissance. The attacker is probably looking for a single point of entry, and one fact to remember is that over 90% of attacks start with an email. About 33% of receivers click on those emails and are thus vulnerable to adverse impacts associated with the attacks like loss of data, security breaches, or system failure. So when attackers are crafting a spoofing or an impersonation email, a survey will most likely include thorough research of the individual or company that is to be impersonated. So, identify a vulnerable target and explore the best ways to exploit it.
For this reason, anyone with a digital presence is easy to find online. A simple search is enough to surface plenty of information of anyone, including photos, articles, social media profiles, blogs, and videos. So let’s say an attacker is looking to impersonate a known individual; to target someone else, they could craft a fake email.
There are three ways you can tell if an email is malicious. Two ways involve making an analysis on the email using the naked eye. The last method involves the use of cybersecurity software for your business’s online operations.
Considering the fact that hypothetical attacks are reconstructed based on real malicious threats, which are increasingly complex, it is almost impossible to rely on the human eye alone when trying to spot the difference between real and fake. Fortunately, in circumstances where an email attack would bypass both the approaches to cyber security and your better judgment, self-learning AI stays a step ahead of the attackers.
The CEO of Colorado Computer Support, Blake Schwank, talks about the importance of cybersecurity training. He believes that it can help to prepare your employees for attacks and enable them to detect and avoid becoming victims of cyber threats.
The first thing which is the most obvious is a misspelled name. This mistake signifies that the sender is foreign and suspicious. For this reason, always remember to read the email to spot simple mistakes.
You might also notice some typos littered throughout the email. Moreover, the sender might be using an email address that appears to be a personal or free account rather than a business or a corporate domain. These accounts can easily be created through any number of well-established providers and may be used for legitimate communications. Still, it is unlikely that your work colleague would use it to email your work account, and therefore, that raises suspicion.
However, without prior context or expectations, the sender might have deceived someone less familiar with the person being impersonated, considering their day-to-day communications. If they added a photo to the account setup, the recipient’s underlying trust might lead them to let their guard down.
Another variation of the same email could make it harder to detect malicious activity. This includes when the copy has no spelling errors or typos. Additionally, the sender’s address might appear to be a corporate or a branded domain, which was likely purchased and then registered. The bulk purchasing of domains is relatively easy to do by legitimate businesses and hackers who are buying their way into the inboxes.
The domains used to send you the email might be new, but people unfamiliar with the sender might not be aware of this or might not notice that there is a lookalike or spoofing a legitimate brand. Additionally, the email might have a hidden hyperlink, and hidden links might signify malicious intent. The recipient may trust the sender implicitly and might not hover over before clicking on the link to see what it is.
However, in the flurry of constant and fast-paced email communications, some people do not always do their due diligence. This is mainly due to lack of either the time or the mental bandwidth to check and hover over every link in every email.
Another example of a malicious email where the domain seems legitimate involves one sent by people familiar with the job of the person they impersonate. It might even have links that take you to legitimate websites. However, legitimate websites are still often used to host malicious content.
The point here is that even for somebody familiar with the person being impersonated or a user with some understanding of digital deception methodologies, they would still have difficulty sensing that an email is suspicious using the naked eye alone. Take a step back and think about the influx of emails streaming into your inboxes daily.
These emails have become increasingly difficult to identify as fake. It is hubris to rely on humans to catch every case, considering how chaotic and fast-paced many people’s lives have become. You cannot rely on humans alone to overcome the natural yet ever-present threats of human error.
People constantly click through e-commerce receipts, newsletters, solicited and unsolicited emails, and legitimate work correspondence. The world is increasingly relying on technology to automate routines and drive real economic efficiency gains.
Therefore, technology virtually underpins every aspect of business operations and our daily lives. So, to keep pace with this ever-growing persistence on various threats, it has never been more critical to augment security teams and leverage self-learning AI to regain the advantage.
Protecting your system requires knowledge in information security to reduce unauthorized access and enhance regular system inspection. To learn more about antigenic email, the importance of cybersecurity, and how you can protect your system against attacks, contact Colorado Computer Support.