As phishing attacks become more sophisticated and expensive to recover from, now is the time for companies to turn to AI to help combat the threat
Like any major incident, the pandemic has brought the best and worst out of people. From a cybersecurity perspective, we have certainly seen criminals try to take advantage of the uncertainty and new ways of working with a huge increase in the number of attacks, and perhaps more worryingly, a real upturn in the nature and sophistication of the threats.
The social engineering approach of phishing cyber criminals means that they are always targeting what is usually an organisation’s weakest link; the employee. Whilst some companies have done a good job in starting to educate staff about what these threats look like they are never going to be able to keep up with the increasingly sophisticated approach and methods of cyber criminals.
Just in the last few weeks, we have started to see new phishing attacks from criminals including attempting to steal account credentials by convincing users that their email service has quarantined three messages. These messages appear to be legitimate messages from the technical support team of the user’s employers and plays on the fear and uncertainty that employees have over cyberattacks. It suggests that there are three emails that have been quarantined and blocked from entering the user’s inbox and that clicking on the link will grant them access, but of course actually sends them to a phishing page where the user is told to sign in with the email credentials, which are then taken by the criminals.
This is a good example of a classic phishing approach, but using a much more sophisticated manner. For most employees, the email has all the signs of coming from a trusted source and even adds a hint of urgency by suggesting that the emails in quarantine will be deleted immanently.
The focus, on the most part, has been on the employee to correctly identify and deal with a phishing email. With levels of sophistication of such attacks rising it is now not only unfair on the employee to be expected to identify phishing scams, but actually opening companies up to the real possibility of being breached.
Companies facing huge costs to recover from such breaches
The most recent Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Report has shown that such a breach can have a larger impact than ever. It suggests that organisations spend $3.86m recovering from security incidents and that is not to say anything of impact on reputation.
The report also suggests that organisations using AI and analytics had the most success mitigating the costs of data breaches, speaking $2.45m on their recovery process. The use of AI has to be the key element for organisations if they are to successfully counter phishing attacks.
The latest advances in AI and machine learning use more than 100 linguistic and technical analytics and algorithms, solutions can identify signs of compromise with pinpoint precision. They re-write suspect emails to disable questionable link and add user-friendly warning banners to highlight potential phishing emails to the end-user.
Taking the emphasis off the employee and using technology that is constantly learning and adapting to the latest phishing threats is a crucial step.