Barracuda Networks has reported that many of its customers have been hit by a so-called “airline phishing attack” that focuses on industries related to logistics, shipping and manufacturing, according to CSO Online. Attackers assume the identities of travel agents and send emails that appear to contain airline passes or other types of e-tickets.

Analyzing the Airline Phishing Attack

According to Barracuda, the fraudsters behind the campaign do their homework. Before launching an attack, they research their targets to determine which airlines, destinations and prices might feasibly appear in a legitimate email.

The fraudulent email contains a .pdf or .docx attachment, which, when opened, executes the malware and redirects the victim to a website designed to imitate an airline or corporate travel center. Once there, the victim is encouraged to enter company credentials, which the attackers can then use to breach corporate networks.

BEC Attacks on the Rise

Proofpoint found that business email compromise (BEC) attacks have increased by 45 percent in the last three months of 2016 compared to prior months. The company also discovered that two-thirds of all BEC attacks spoofed email address domains so that fraudulent emails would display the same domain as that of the targeted company. Interestingly, Proofpoint found no correlation between the size of the company and BEC attack volume.

Asaf Cidon, vice president of content security services at Barracuda, told CSO Online that these attacks were influencing firms to change their defense strategies.

“The market is moving from a static, rule-based approach that relies on seeing the same virus or spam message across many customers to dynamic, machine learning-based systems that learn and adapt to the attacks,” he noted. “Future email security systems will need to learn each customer’s environment and find anomalies in real time.”

Vigilance against email phishing has long been a crucial component of security. These attacks demonstrate the importance of user awareness and employee training to mitigate all types of threats, even those as simplistic as phishing.

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