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Marketers are the designers of brand image, hence they need to be aware of these 5 famous Phishing terms, that can wreak havoc on a company’s reputation.  Phishing is a type of attack vector that involves a website or email that looks as if it is from a reputable organization but is actually created with the intent of gathering sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (also known as Card Data). Phishing attacks are common in the online world.

When your company falls victim to a phishing attack, it can cause brand name harm and interfere with your search engine ranking or conversion rate. It should be a priority for marketers to protect against phishing attacks because they are a direct reflection of your company’s consistencies. Hence, as marketers, we need to proceed with extreme caution when it comes to phishing scams.

Phishing scams have been around for many years. Don’t worry if you didn’t hear about it before, it isn’t your fault. Some say that the cyber scam was born 10 years ago but phishing officially became a crime in 2004. As Phishing techniques continue to evolve, encountering a new phishing email can quickly become confusing, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if the message is legitimate or not. You can better protect yourself and your organization by being alert to these five common phishing techniques.

5 Common Phishing Terms You Need to Know

1) Email Phishing 

Phishing emails are usually sent out in bulk from a domain that mimics a legitimate one. A company might have the email address [email protected], but a phishing company might use [email protected] The goal is to fool you into clicking on a malicious link or sharing sensitive information by pretending to be a real company you do business with.  A fake domain often involves character substitution, like using ‘r’ and ‘n’ next to each other to create ‘rn’ instead of ‘m’.

Phishing attacks are constantly evolving and getting more and more undetectable with time. Threat actors are using social engineering tactics to spoof domains and send fraudulent emails from a legitimate domain, for malicious ends.

2) Spear Phishing 

A spear phishing attack is a new form of cyberattack that uses false information to gain access to accounts that have a higher level of security. Professional attackers have a goal of compromising a single victim, and in order to carry out this idea, they research the company’s social profile and the names and roles of employees within that company. Unlike phishing, Spear phishing is a targeted campaign against one organization or individual. These campaigns are carefully constructed by threat actors with the sole purpose of targeting a specific person(s) to gain access into an organization.

3) Whaling

Whaling is a highly targeted technique that can compromise the emails of higher-level associates. The objective, which is similar to other phishing methods, is to trick employees into clicking on a malicious link. One of the most devastating email attacks to pass through corporate networks is the whaling scam. These attempts at personal gain using powers of persuasion to lower victims’ resistance, tricking them into handing over company funds. Whaling is also known as CEO fraud, as attackers often impersonate people in authoritarian positions such as the CEO of a company.

4) Business Email Compromise 

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a form of cyber crime which can be extremely costly to businesses. This type of cyber attack uses email fraud to influence organizational domains into partaking in fraudulent activity resulting in the compromise and theft of sensitive data. Examples of BEC can include invoice scams, domain spoofing, and other forms of impersonation attacks. Each year an average organization can lose up to $70 million dollars to BEC scams, learn more about 2020 BEC attack statistics. In a typical attack, fraudsters target specific employee roles within an organization by sending a series of fraudulent emails that claim to be from a senior colleague, customer, or business partner. They may instruct recipients to make payments or release confidential data.

5) Angler Phishing 

Many corporations have thousands of customers and receive hundreds of complaints daily. Through social media, companies are able to escape the confines of their limitations and reach out to their customers. This enables a corporation to be flexible and adjust to the demands of its customers. Angler phishing is the act of reaching out to disgruntled customers over social media and pretending to be part of a company. The angler phishing scam is a simple ploy used to trick casual social media users into thinking that a company is trying to remedy their problems when in reality, the person on the other end is taking advantage of them.

How to Protect Your Organization from Phishing and Email Fraud

Your email service provider may come with integrated security packages as a part of their service. These however act as spam filters that offer protection against inbound phishing attempts. However, when an email is being sent by scammers using your domain name to recipient inboxes, like in the case of BEC, whaling, and other forms of impersonation attacks listed above, they won’t serve the purpose. This is why you need to avail of email authentication solutions like DMARC, immediately and shift to a policy of enforcement.

  • DMARC authenticates your emails by aligning them against SPF and DKIM authentication standards.
  • It specifies to receiving servers how they should respond to emails failing authentication checks.
  • DMARC aggregate (RUA) reports provide you with enhanced visibility into your email ecosystem and authentication results and helps you monitor your domains easily.
  • DMARC forensic (RUF) reports give you an in-depth analysis of your DMARC failure results, helping you respond to impersonation attacks faster.

How Can PowerDMARC Help Your Brand?

PowerDMARC is more than just your DMARC service provider, it is a multi-tenant SaaS platform that provides a wide range of authentication solutions and DMARC MSSP programs. We make email authentication easy and accessible for every organization, from small businesses to multinational enterprises.

  • We help you move from p=none to p=reject in no time, so as to protect your brand from impersonation attacks, domain spoofing, and phishing.
  • We help you easily configure DMARC reporting for your with comprehensive charts and tables and RUA report views in 6 different formats for ease of use and amplified visibility
  • We cared about your privacy, so you can encrypt your DMARC RUF reports with your private key
  • We help you generate scheduled PDF reports on your authentication results
  • We provide dynamic SPF flattening solution like PowerSPF so that you never exceed the 10 DNS lookup limit
  • We help you make TLS encryption mandatory in SMTP, with MTA-STS to protect your domain from pervasive monitoring attacks
  • We help you make your brand visually identifiable in your recipient inboxes with BIMI

Sign up with PowerDMARC today to get your free DMARC analyzer tool trial, and shift from a policy of monitoring to enforcement to provide your domain maximum protection against BEC, phishing, and spoofing attacks.

Email serves as a critical channel for B2B lead generation and customer communications, but it is also one of the most widely targeted channels for cyberattacks and email fraud scams. Cybercriminals are always innovating their attacks in order to steal more information and financial assets. As organizations continue to fight back with stronger security measures, cybercriminals must constantly evolve their tactics and improve their phishing and spoofing techniques.

In 2021, a drastic increase in the use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) based phishing attacks that are going undetected by traditional email security solutions have been detected by security researchers from around the world. The main aim of these attacks are to manipulate human behaviour and trick people into performing unauthorized actions – like transferring money to fraudsters’ accounts.

While the threat of email-based attacks and email fraud are always evolving, don’t stay behind. Know the email fraud trends that will take place in the following years in terms of fraudster tactics, tools, and malware. Through this blog post I’ll show you how cybercriminals are developing their tactics, and explain how your business can prevent this kind of email attack from taking place.

Types Of Email Fraud Scams to Beware of in 2021

1. Business Email Compromise (BEC)

COVID-19 has compelled organizations to implement remote-working environments and shift to virtual communication between employees, partners, and customers. While this has a few benefits to list down, the most apparent downside is the alarming rise in BEC over the past year. BEC is a broader term used for referring to email fraud attacks like email spoofing and phishing.

The common idea is that a cyber attacker uses your domain name to send emails to your partners, customers, or employees trying to steal corporate credentials to gain access to confidential assets or initiate wire transfers. BEC has affected more than 70% of organizations over the past year and has led to the loss of billions of dollars worth of company assets.

2. Evolved Email Phishing Attacks

Email phishing attacks have drastically evolved in the past few years although the motive has remained the same, it is the medium to manipulate your trusted partners, employees and clients into clicking on malicious links encapsulated within an email that appears to be sent from you, in order to initiate the installation of malware or credential theft. Evolved email scammers are sending phishing emails that are hard to detect. From writing impeccable subject lines and error-free content to creating fake landing pages with a high level of accuracy, manually tracing their activities have become increasingly difficult in 2021.

3. Man-In-The-Middle

Gone are the days when attackers sent out poorly-written emails that even a layman could identify as fraudulent. Threat actors these days are taking advantage of SMTP security problems like the use of opportunistic encryption in email transactions between two communicating email servers, by eavesdropping on the conversation after successfully rolling back the secured connection to an unencrypted one. MITM attacks like SMTP downgrade and DNS spoofing have been increasingly gaining popularity in 2021.

4. CEO Fraud

CEO fraud refers to the schemes that are being conducted that target high-level executives in order to gain access to confidential information. Attackers do this by taking the identities of actual people such as CEOs or CFOs and sending a message to people at lower levels within the organization, partners and clients, tricking them into giving away sensitive information. This type of attack is also called Business Email Compromise or whaling. In a business setting, some criminals are venturing to create a more believable email, by impersonating the decision-makers of an organization. This allows them to ask for easy money transfers or sensitive information about the company.

5. COVID-19 Vaccine Lures

Security researchers have unveiled that hackers are still trying to capitalize on the fears tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent studies shed light on the cybercriminal mindset, revealing a continued interest in the state of panic surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and a measurable uptick in phishing and business email compromise (BEC) attacks targeting company leaders. The medium for perpetrating these attacks is a fake COVID-19 vaccine lure that instantly raises interest among email receivers.

How Can You Enhance Email Security?

  • Configure your domain with email authentication standards like SPF, DKIM and DMARC
  • Shift from DMARC monitoring to DMARC enforcement to gain maximum protection against BEC, CEO fraud and evolved phishing attacks
  • Consistently monitor email flow and authentication results from time to time
  • Make encryption mandatory in SMTP with MTA-STS to mitigate MITM attacks
  • Get regular notifications on email delivery issues with details on their root causes with SMTP TLS reporting (TLS-RPT)
  • Mitigate SPF permerror by staying under the 10 DNS lookup limit at all times
  • Help your recipients visually identify your brand in their inboxes with BIMI

PowerDMARC is your single email authentication SaaS platform that assembles all email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, MTA-STS, TLS-RPT and BIMI on a single pane of glass. Sign up today to get your free DMARC analyzer! 

Business Email Compromise or BEC is a form of email security breach or impersonation attack that affects commercial, government, non-profit organizations, small businesses and startups as well as MNCs and enterprises to extract confidential data that can negatively influence the brand or organization. Spear phishing attacks, invoice scams and spoofing attacks are all examples of BEC.

Cybercriminals are expert schemers who intentionally target specific people within an organization, especially those in authoritarian positions like the CEO or someone similar, or even a trusted customer. The worldwide financial impact due to BEC is huge, especially in the US which has emerged as the prime hub. Read more about the global BEC scam volume. The solution? Switch to DMARC!

What is DMARC?

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) is an industry-standard for email authentication. This authentication mechanism specifies to receiving servers how to respond to emails failing SPF and DKIM authentication checks. DMARC can minimize the chances of your brand falling prey BEC attacks by a substantial percentage, and help protect your brand’s reputation, confidential information and financial assets.

Note that before publishing a DMARC record, you need to implement SPF and DKIM for your domain since DMARC authentication makes use of these two standard authentication protocols for validating messages sent on behalf of your domain.

You can use our free SPF Record Generator and DKIM Record Generator to generate records to be published in your domain’s DNS.

How to Optimize Your DMARC Record to Protect Against BEC?

In order to protect your domain against Business Email Compromise, as well as enable an extensive reporting mechanism to monitor authentication results and gain complete visibility into your email ecosystem, we recommend you to publish the following DMARC record syntax in your domain’s DNS:

v=DMARC1; p=reject; rua=mailto:[email protected]; ruf=mailto:[email protected]; fo=1;

Understanding the tags used while generating a DMARC Record:

v (mandatory)This mechanism specifies the version of the protocol.
p (mandatory)This mechanism specifies the DMARC policy in use. You can set your DMARC policy to:

p=none (DMARC at monitoring only wherein emails failing authentication checks would still land into receivers’ inboxes). p=quarantine (DMARC at enforcement, wherein emails failing authentication checks will be quarantined or lodged into the spam folder).

p=reject (DMARC at maximum enforcement, wherein emails failing authentication checks will be discarded or not delivered at all).

For authentication novices, it is recommended to start out with your policy at monitoring only (p=none) and then slowly shift to enforcement.However, for the purpose of this blog if you want to safeguard your domain against BEC, p=reject is the recommended policy for you to ensure maximum protection.

sp (optional)This tag specifies the subdomains policy which can be set to sp=none/quarantine/reject requesting a policy for all subdomains wherein emails are failing DMARC authentication.

This tag is only useful if you desire to set a different policy for your main domain and subdomains. If not specified the same policy will be levied upon all your subdomains by default.

adkim (optional)This mechanism specifies the DKIM identifier alignment mode which can be set to s (strict) or r (relaxed).

Strict alignment specifies that the d=field in the DKIM signature of the email header must align and match exactly with the domain found in the from header.

However, for Relaxed alignment the two domains must share the same organizational domain only.

aspf (optional) This mechanism specifies the SPF identifier alignment mode which can be set to s (strict) or r (relaxed).

Strict alignment specifies that the domain in the “Return-path” header must align and match exactly with the domain found in the from header.

However, for Relaxed alignment the two domains must share the same organizational domain only.

rua (optional but recommended)This tag specifies the DMARC aggregate reports that are sent to the address specified after the mailto: field, providing insight on emails passing and failing DMARC.
ruf (optional but recommended)This tag specifies the DMARC forensic reports that are to be sent to the address specified after the mailto: field. Forensic reports are message-level reports that provide more detailed information on authentication failures. Since these reports may contain email content, encrypting them is the best practice.
pct (optional)This tag specifies the percentage of emails to which the DMARC policy is applicable. The default value is set to 100.
fo (optional but recommended)The forensic options for your DMARC record can be set to:

->DKIM and SPF don’t pass or align (0)

->DKIM or SPF don’t pass or align (1)

->DKIM doesn’t pass or align (d)

->SPF doesn’t pass or align (s)

The recommended mode is fo=1 specifying that forensic reports are to be generated and sent to your domain whenever emails fail either DKIM or SPF authentication checks.

You can generate your DMARC record with PowerDMARC’s free DMARC Record Generator wherein you can select the fields according to the level of enforcement you desire.

Note that only an enforcement policy of reject can minimize BEC, and protect your domain from spoofing and phishing attacks.

While DMARC can be an effective standard to protect your business against BEC, implementing DMARC correctly requires effort and resources. Whether you are an authentication novice or an authentication aficionado, as pioneers in email authentication, PowerDMARC is a single email authentication SaaS platform that combines all email authentication best practices such as DMARC, SPF, DKIM, BIMI, MTA-STS and TLS-RPT, under the same roof for you. We help you:

  • Shift from monitoring to enforcement in no time to keep BEC at bay
  • Our aggregate reports are generated in the form of simplified charts and tables to help you understand them easily without having to read complex XML files
  • We encrypt your forensic reports to safeguard the privacy of your information
  • View your authentication results in 7 different formats (per result, per sending source, per organization, per host, detailed stats, geolocation reports, per country) on our user-friendly dashboard for optimal user-experience
  • Gain 100% DMARC compliance by aligning your emails against both SPF and DKIM so that emails failing either of the authentication checkpoints do not make it through to your receivers’ inboxes

How Does DMARC Protect Against BEC?

As soon as you set your DMARC policy to maximum enforcement (p=reject), DMARC protects your brand from email fraud by reducing the chance of impersonation attacks and domain abuse. All inbound messages are validated against SPF and DKIM email authentication checks to ensure that they arise from valid sources.

SPF is present in your DNS as a TXT record, displaying all the valid sources that are authorized to send emails from your domain. The receiver’s mail server validates the email against your SPF record to authenticate it. DKIM assigns a cryptographic signature, created using a private key, to validate emails in the receiving server, wherein the receiver can retrieve the public key from the sender’s DNS to authenticate the messages.

With your policy at reject, emails are not delivered to your recipient’s mailbox at all when the authentication checks fail, indicating that your brand is being impersonated. This ultimately keeps BEC like spoofing and phishing attacks at bay.

PowerDMARC’s Basic Plan for Small Businesses

Our basic plan starts from only 8 USD per month, so small businesses and startups trying to adopt secure protocols like DMARC can easily avail of it. The advantages that you will have at your disposal with this plan are as follows:

Sign up with PowerDMARC today and protect your brand’s domain by minimizing the chances of Business Email Compromise and email fraud!

Do you know what’s the worst kind of phishing scam? The kind that you can’t simply ignore: like CEO Fraud. Emails supposedly from the government, telling you to make that pending tax-related payment or risk legal action. Emails that look like your school or university sent them, asking you to pay that one tuition fee you missed. Or even a message from your boss or CEO, telling you to transfer them some money “as a favor”.

The problem with emails like this is that they’re impersonating an authority figure, whether it’s the government, your university board, or your boss at work. Those are important people, and ignoring their messages will almost certainly have serious consequences. So you’re forced to look at them, and if it seems convincing enough, you might actually fall for it.

But let’s take a look at CEO fraud. What exactly is it? Can it happen to you? And if it can, what should you do to stop it?

You’re not immune to CEO fraud

A $2.3 billion scam every year is what it is. You might be wondering, “What could possibly make companies lose that much money to a simple email scam?” But you’d be surprised how convincing CEO fraud emails can be.

In 2016, Mattel almost lost $3 million to a phishing attack when a finance executive received an email from the CEO, instructing her to send a payment to one of their vendors in China. But it was only after checking later with the CEO that she realized he’d never sent the email at all. Thankfully, the company worked with law enforcement in China and the US to get their money back a few days later, but that almost never happens with these attacks.

People tend to believe these scams won’t happen to them…until it happens to them. And that’s their biggest mistake: not preparing for CEO fraud.

Phishing scams can not only cost your organization millions of dollars, they can have a lasting impact on the reputation and credibility of your brand. You run the risk of being seen as the company that lost money to an email scam and losing the trust of your customers whose sensitive personal information you store.

Instead of scrambling to do damage control after the fact, it makes a lot more sense to secure your email channels against spear phishing scams like this one. Here are some of the best ways you can ensure that your organization doesn’t become a statistic in the FBI’s report on BEC.

How to prevent CEO fraud: 6 simple steps

  1. Educate your staff on security
    This one is absolutely critical. Members of your workforce—and especially those in finance—need to understand how Business Email Compromise works. And we don’t just mean a boring 2-hour presentation about not writing down your password on a post-it note. You need to train them on how to look out for suspicious signs that an email is fake, look out for spoofed email addresses, and abnormal requests other staff members seem to be making through email.
  2. Look out for telltale signs of spoofing
    Email scammers use all kinds of tactics to get you to comply with their requests. These can range from urgent requests/instructions to transfer money as a way to get you to act quickly and without thinking, or even asking for access to confidential information for a ’secret project’ that the higher-ups aren’t ready to share with you yet. These are serious red flags, and you need to double and triple-check before taking any action at all.
  3. Get protected with DMARC
    The easiest way to prevent a phishing scam is to never even receive the email in the first place. DMARC is an email authentication protocol that verifies emails coming from your domain before delivering them. When you enforce DMARC on your domain, any attacker impersonating someone from your own organization will be detected as an unauthorized sender, and their email will be blocked from your inbox. You don’t have to deal with spoofed emails at all.
  4. Get explicit approval for wire transfers
    This is one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to prevent money transfers to the wrong people. Before committing to any transaction, make it compulsory to seek explicit approval from the person requesting money using another channel besides email. For larger wire transfers, make it mandatory to receive verbal confirmation.
  5. Flag emails with similar extensions
    The FBI recommends that your organization creates system rules that automatically flag emails that use extensions too similar to your own. For example, if your company uses ‘123-business.com’, the system could detect and flag emails using extensions like ‘123_business.com’.
  6. Purchase similar domain names
    Attackers often use similar-looking domain names to send phishing emails. For example, if your organization has a lowercase ‘i’ in its name, they might use an uppercase ‘I’, or replace the letter ‘E’ with the number ‘3’. Doing this will help you lower your chances of someone using an extremely similar domain name to send you emails.

 

In a first for the company, PowerDMARC has taken on a new strategic expert advisor who will support and guide the company in all future projects in data and email security, authentication, anti-spoofing measures, and DMARC compliance.Abbas PowerDMARC

PowerDMARC, one of the fastest-growing names in email authentication security and DMARC compliance, has announced its newest member who will be joining their Executive Advisory Board, a panel of experts in the fields of cybersecurity and data protection. Abbas Kudrati, Chief Cybersecurity Advisor at Microsoft APJ and an industry professor at Deakin University, will be lending his support to the young startup in all matters related to email security and DMARC compliance.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have someone with the level of expertise and experience of Mr. Kudrati on our Advisory Board,” said PowerDMARC Co-Founder Faisal Al Farsi. “We’re looking for guidance from the best minds in the industry. It’s an honor to have him on board.”

Abbas Kudrati brings with him over two decades’ worth of experience in supervisory and consulting positions at more than 10 different organizations around the globe, where he’s been involved in network security, technology risk services and cybersecurity. He’s also been a part-time professor and executive advisor at La Trobe and Deakin Universities for over two years, and an advisor with EC-Council ASEAN. Presently he’s serving as the Chief Cybersecurity Advisor for Microsoft APJ based in Melbourne, Australia.

In a time of economic slowdown and growing threats to cybersecurity, Kudrati is expected to help PowerDMARC gain a firm foothold in the industry while expanding into newer areas of email security. He will play an important role in advising the company plans for the future and product roadmap.