Phishing is still the most common method used by cybercriminals in attacks on businesses, as has been confirmed by a new survey of IT security and identity professionals. The Identity Defined Security Alliance recently conducted a survey on 529 IT security professionals and identity professionals at organizations with more than 1,000 employees and found 62% had experienced an identity-related incident in 2022, and out of those, 93% said they had experienced an email phishing incident.

Phishing is popular with cybercriminals as it is easy to conduct campaigns, which can be largely automated and require little skill. These campaigns are low cost and they are effective, as people can easily be fooled into disclosing their credentials or downloading malicious files. Email remains the most common vector used for phishing, with emails usually including a web-based component. Users are directed to malicious websites where malware is downloaded, or their credentials are harvested.

Phishing campaigns can be made even more effective if the emails are targeted. General phishing emails that are sent in massive spamming campaigns will attract a low number of responses but certainly enough to make these campaigns worthwhile; however, by targeting small numbers of individuals the response rate increases dramatically. Spear phishing involves tailoring emails for a specific group of people or researching individuals and sending personalized phishing emails. The survey revealed 49% of respondents had experienced spear phishing attacks in the past year.

Phishing is no longer solely conducted via email, and attacks involving other attack vectors have been steadily increasing. SMS and instant messaging platforms are commonly used for phishing. These phishing attacks are referred to as smishing attacks and phishing can occur over the phone – termed vishing. 27% of respondents said they experienced smishing or vishing attacks in the past year.

Phishing attacks can be extremely costly for businesses. These attacks are conducted to gain initial access to business networks to steal sensitive data, which can be used in a wide variety of ways. Once access to networks is gained and all valuable data has been stolen, access to those networks is often sold to other threat actors such as ransomware gangs for follow-on attacks. Businesses are also increasingly being sued for data breaches by employees and customers, the attacks take time to remediate causing business disruption and often result in significant reputational damage.

Phishing attacks are increasing in sophistication as well as number. While it was once sufficient to implement a spam filtering solution and antivirus software to block attacks, defenses have had to become more comprehensive and sophisticated and provide multiple layers of protection.

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TitanHQ solutions can form the basis of a robust defense against phishing. TitanHQ offers three cybersecurity solutions that work seamlessly together that can be used by businesses to mount a formidable defense against phishing attacks, with each solution tackling the threat of phishing from a different angle.

The first layer of defense comes from SpamTitan Email Security – An advanced email security solution for blocking phishing and spam emails, including attacks seeking credentials and those delivering malware. SpamTitan incorporates anti-virus software (dual AV engines) for detecting known malware variants, and behavioral analysis through email sandboxing for detecting zero-day (unknown) malware threats.

Protection against the web-based element of phishing comes from the WebTitan DNS filter, which is used to prevent employees from visiting malicious websites and for controlling access to the Internet through category and keyboard-based web filtering. WebTitan blocks downloads of malicious files and risky file types, and secures the DNS to block command-control callbacks. WebTitan not only blocks phishing attacks via email but also phishing and other malicious websites encountered through web browsing, such as via redirects to malicious websites from online adverts (malvertising).

The third layer of protection is concerned with improving human defenses, which is vital considering that more than 80% of data breaches involve the human element (Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report). SafeTitan is used to create effective security awareness training, tailored to meet the needs of each business and individual. The platform includes a huge library of training content that can be tailored for user groups and individuals which covers all aspects of security. Through SafeTitan training, businesses can raise awareness of threats and eradicate bad security practices. The solution also includes a phishing simulator for testing employees, which delivers on-the-spot training in real-time in response to security mistakes.

Cybercriminals are unlikely to stop conducting attacks and they are only likely to increase in number and sophistication. Businesses therefore need to make sure their defenses are up to scratch. For more information on these TitanHQ solutions, contact the sales team today. You can also take advantage of free trials of these solutions to test them before deciding on a purchase.