A new research paper warned of phishing threats in which malicious actors abuse trusted web services to evade detection.

According to the report by Cofense, fraudsters are getting creative in their efforts to make sure their emails make it through email gateways and firewalls. Specifically, threat actors are using web services such as Google Drive, SharePoint, Dropbox and others to host files containing embedded links that redirect to credential-stealing websites.

Email Remains a Top Attack Vector

Many common email gateways are unable to detect and block the malicious links included within those files. Some perform better when the body of the email contains a malicious link to a phishing page. However, Cofense found several instances in which those gateways failed to rewrite a malicious URL completely, which allowed the attack email to get through. The security firm also noted one instance in which an email security platform successfully rewrote a URL but failed to block it.

This is particularly concerning because email is one of the most popular attack vectors in use today. Verizon recorded 1,192 email phishing incidents over the course of the year in its “2018 Data Breach Investigations Report,” and a Symantec survey found that 1 in 9 users encountered email malware during the first half of 2017. This made users twice as likely to encounter malware through email than through exploit kits. By the end of 2017, Symantec observed that the number of malware-laden emails received by users had nearly doubled in six months to 16.

How to Protect Against Phishing Attacks

Security professionals can protect their organizations against phishing attacks by conducting a simulated phishing engagement to test the organization’s incident response processes. They should also adopt a layered approach to email security that includes perimeter protection, email security solutions and cyber awareness training for all employees.

Sources: Cofense, Verizon Enterprise, Symantec, Symantec[1]

More from

Security Awareness Training 101: Which Employees Need It?

4 min read - To understand why you need cybersecurity awareness training, you must first understand employees' outsized roles in security breaches. “People remain — by far — the weakest link in an organization’s cybersecurity defenses,” noted Verizon on the release of their 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR). They elaborate that 25% of all breaches covered in the report were the result of social engineering attacks, and when you add human errors and misuse of privilege, the human element accounts for 82% of…

4 min read

Beyond Requirements: Tapping the Business Potential of Data Governance and Security

3 min read - Doom and gloom. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. The "stick" versus the "carrot". What do these concepts have in common? They have often provided the primary motivation for organizations’ data governance and security strategies. For the enterprise, this mindset has perpetuated the idea that data governance, data security and data privacy are reactive cost centers existing due to externally imposed requirements or mandates. Yet, what if data governance and security practices could upend the prevailing paradigm and demonstrate direct business value?…

3 min read

Protecting Against Remote Monitoring and Management Phishing

3 min read - You use remote monitoring and management (RMM) software to closely monitor your cyber environment and keep your organization safe. But now cyber criminals are specifically targeting these tools, causing legitimate software to become a vulnerability. This is the latest type of attack in an increase in a recent trend of disruptive software supply chain attacks. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently released an alert about the malicious use of legitimate remote monitoring and management (RMM) software. Last fall,…

3 min read

Secure-by-Design: Which Comes First, Code or Security?

4 min read - For years, developers and IT security teams have been at loggerheads. While developers feel security slows progress, security teams assert that developers sacrifice security priorities in their quest to accelerate production. This disconnect results in flawed software that is vulnerable to attack. While advocates for speed and security clash, consumers must often pay the price when threat actors strike. 48% of developers admitted they were still shipping code with vulnerabilities in 2022. It’s clearly time for a change. Many believe…

4 min read