Email phishing is the most common form of phishing, with email providing threat actors with an easy way of getting their malicious messages in front of employees. Phishing emails typically include a URL along with a pressing reason for clicking the link. The URLs are often masked to make them appear legitimate, either with a button or link text relevant to the lure in the message. Email attachments are often added to emails that contain malicious scripts for downloading a variety of malicious payloads, or links to websites where malware is hosted.

While there are many email security solutions available to businesses, many lack the sophistication to block advanced phishing threats as they rely on threat intelligence, antivirus software, and reputation checks. While these are important and effective at blocking the bulk of phishing and malspam emails, they are not effective at blocking zero-day attacks, business email compromise, and advanced phishing threats.

More advanced features include email sandboxing for detecting and quarantining zero-day malware threats and malicious scripts, greylisting for increasing the spam catch rate, and AI and machine learning capabilities that can assess messages and identify threats based on how they differ from the messages that are typically received by the business. SpamTitan, a cloud-based anti-spam service from TitanHQ, has these features and more. Independent tests have shown that the solution blocks more than 99.99% of spam emails, 99.95% of malware, and more than 99.91% of phishing emails. SpamTitan can be provided as a hosted email filter or as a gateway spam filter for installation on-premises on existing hardware, serving as a virtual anti-spam appliance.

Microsoft 365 users often complain about the phishing catch rate of the protections provided by Microsoft, which are EOP only for most licenses and EOP and Defender for the most expensive licenses. While these protections are effective at blocking spam and known malware, they fall short of what is required for blocking advanced threats. To improve Microsoft 365 security and block the threats that Microsoft misses, TitanHQ has developed PhishTitan. PhishTitan augments Microsoft 365 defenses and is the easiest way of improving the Office 365 spam filter. These advanced defenses are now vital due to the increase in attacks. The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) has reported that more phishing attacks were conducted in 2023 than ever before.

Massive Increase in Text Message Phishing Scams

Blocking email phishing attempts is straightforward with advanced email security solutions, which make it much harder for phishers to get their messages in front of employees. One of the ways that threat actors have adapted is by switching to SMS phishing attacks, which no email security solution can block. APWG has reported a major increase in SMS-based phishing attempts.

A recent study attempted to determine the extent to which SMS phishing is being used. Researchers used SMS gateways – websites that allow users to obtain disposable phone numbers – to obtain a large number of phone numbers for the study. They then waited to see how long it took for SMS phishing messages to be received. The study involved 2,011 phone numbers and over 396 days the researchers received an astonishing 67,991 SMS phishing messages, which averages almost 34 per number. The researchers analyzed the messages and identified 35,128 unique campaigns that they associated with 600 phishing operations. Several of the threat actors had even set up URL shortening services on their own domains to hide the destination URLs. With these shortening services, the only way to tell that the domain is malicious is to click the link.

Blocking SMS phishing threats is difficult for businesses and the primary defense is security awareness training. SMS phishing should be included in security awareness training to make employees aware of the threat, as it is highly likely that they will encounter many SMS phishing threats. The SafeTitan security awareness platform makes creating training courses simple and the platform includes training content on all types of threats, including SMS, voice, and email phishing. With SafeTitan it is easy to create and automate campaigns, as well as deliver training in real-time in response to employee errors to ensure training is provided when it is likely to have the greatest impact – immediately after a mistake is made.