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A phishing attack is when a fraudster sends an email to trick the recipient. The idea is to persuade the target into giving up sensitive information, for instance, your corporate network credentials, or perhaps to authorize some type of financial transaction. The vast majority of data breaches against businesses today begin as phishing attacks.

Just a couple of famous phishing examples:

The infamous Target breach back in 2013 started with a phishing email that gave attackers a foothold in Target’s business systems for further attacks.
Phishing appeared prominently in the Mueller Report on the 2016 presidential election hacking.

Some quick phishing statistics:

Over 55% organizations experienced a successful phish last year.
$12 billion is the 5-year global cost of just one type of phishing attack, business email compromise (BEC).
The average phishing attack costs a mid-sized business $3.86 million.

Our database has thousands of phishing examples, but most fit into one of these 3 categories:

Phishing Emails with Malicious Links: Sometimes a phishing attack is simply an email with an embedded link. When you click, you either unknowingly activate malware or are directed to a webpage that looks perfectly legitimate but is designed to harvest your information.

Phishing Attacks with Malicious Attachments: Phishing attackers often send emails with attachments containing malware. When you click, look out. Many times phishing attackers use popular document types such as Microsoft Word or Excel or even Adobe PDFs. They take advantage of the trust people place in popular business tools.

Business Email Compromise (BEC): BEC emails, also known as CEO Fraud, typically don’t use malware but simply try to manipulate the target into sending money. Traditionally, BEC phishing attacks try to get employees in the finance department to authorize wire transfers, for instance, to a “vendor” or “partner.” This kind of attack often uses ‘CEO fraud phishing’ where attackers pretend to be the CEO or CFO to spur quick action.

Real Phishing Example: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Proofpoint deliver a JavaScript file via an embedded URL. The JavaScript file unpacks and runs STRRAT.

ENVIRONMENTS: Proofpoint

TYPE: STRRAT

POSTED ON: 03/02/2021

TACTIC: embedded URLs

THEME: Finance

PHISHING EXAMPLE DESCRIPTION: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Proofpoint deliver a JavaScript file via an embedded URL. The JavaScript file unpacks and runs STRRAT.

Real Phishing Example: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Proofpoint deliver JNLP shortcut files via XXE archives. The JNLP files download and run a JAR Downloader which in turn downloads Smoke Loader.

ENVIRONMENTS: Proofpoint

TYPE: Smoke Loader

POSTED ON: 03/02/2021

TACTIC: downloader attachment

THEME: FInance

PHISHING EXAMPLE DESCRIPTION: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Proofpoint deliver JNLP shortcut files via XXE archives. The JNLP files download and run a JAR Downloader which in turn downloads Smoke Loader.

Real Phishing Example: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Microsoft ATP, Cisco Ironport, Proofpoint, and Symantec MessageLabs deliver ZLoader via Office macro laden spreadsheets. The spreadsheets are downloaded from embedded URLs.

ENVIRONMENTS: Microsoft Defender for O365, Cisco Ironport, Proofpoint, and Symantec MessageLabs

TYPE: ZLoader

POSTED ON: 03/02/2021

TACTIC: embedded URLs

THEME: Finance

PHISHING EXAMPLE DESCRIPTION: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Microsoft ATP, Cisco Ironport, Proofpoint, and Symantec MessageLabs deliver ZLoader via Office macro laden spreadsheets. The spreadsheets are downloaded from embedded URLs.

Real Phishing Example: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Proofpoint deliver JNLP shortcut files via XXE archives. The JNLP files download and run a JAR Downloader which in turn downloads Smoke Loader.

ENVIRONMENTS: Proofpoint

TYPE: Smoke Loader

POSTED ON: 03/01/2021

TACTIC: downloader attachment

THEME: FInance

PHISHING EXAMPLE DESCRIPTION: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Proofpoint deliver JNLP shortcut files via XXE archives. The JNLP files download and run a JAR Downloader which in turn downloads Smoke Loader.

Real Phishing Example: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Proofpoint, Cisco IronPort, Microsoft Defender for O365, and Mimecast deliver password protected Office macro laden spreadsheets via embedded links. The spreadsheets download Dridex.

ENVIRONMENTS: Proofpoint

TYPE: Dridex

POSTED ON: 02/24/2021

TACTIC: Link

PHISHING EXAMPLE DESCRIPTION: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Proofpoint, Cisco IronPort, Microsoft Defender for O365, and Mimecast deliver password protected Office macro laden spreadsheets via embedded links. The spreadsheets download Dridex.

Real Phishing Example: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Microsoft Defender for O365 deliver Credential Phishing via an embedded link

ENVIRONMENTS: Microsoft Defender for O365

TYPE: Credential Phishing

POSTED ON: 02/19/2021

TACTIC: Link

PHISHING EXAMPLE DESCRIPTION: Finance-themed emails found in environments protected by Microsoft Defender for O365 deliver Credential Phishing via an embedded link

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