Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
Read Full Bio >>

Gary Audin | November 17, 2017 |


Phishing Fouls Security

Phishing Fouls Security With phishing scams a top concern among security professionals, learn how to get ahead and reduce risk.

With phishing scams a top concern among security professionals, learn how to get ahead and reduce risk.

You have an email invitation from someone you don't know. There is an offer for low-cost or free tickets to that game or show. Your financial institution said they have a problem and they need to get your credentials to fix your account. It appears that your email site needs some information from you, but it just doesn't look right. These are phishing emails.

Phishing Defined
When an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in an email or other communication channel, this is defined as phishing. Phishing emails are distributed with malicious links or attachments that are used to extract login credentials or account information. Phishing attacks rely on direct messages sent over social networks, SMS text messages, and other instant messaging systems.

The FBI defines spear phishing as a targeted phishing attack, focusing on select groups of people who have something in common, be that working for the same company, banking at the same financial institution, attending the same college, or ordering merchandise from the same websites.

Phishing Statistics
I discovered some interesting statistics in the PhishMe infographic "Data Breaches and The Great Security Disconnect." The infographic displayed the two major concerns of security professionals -- phishing (58%) and malware (56%). Ransomware is a distance third (23%).


The infographic also points out that the common attack approach is through social engineering (46%) followed by targeted attacks (43%).


What Drives Phishing?
Phishing produces gain for the attacker, usually financial. It can also open your organization to intellectual property theft, unauthorized resource usage, and the delivery of goods and property to the phishers. Criminals that have your personal data can access your financial accounts, use your credit cards, and even create a whole new identity using your information.

Spear phishing can also trick users into downloading malicious codes or malware when you click on an embedded link in the email. This is especially useful in economic espionage where internal communications can be accessed and trade secrets stolen. Malware can hijack your computer. Hijacked computers can be organized into botnets that can be used in denial of service (DoS) attacks.

Tactics that Succeed
Email was never designed with security in mind. There have been add-ons to email protocols that help reduce spam and phishing attempts, but they are not 100% successful. Even if someone doesn't use email, they can be a victim of a phishing scam by visiting the website that is not what it seems to be. They can be redirected to a man-in-the-middle attack that points you to a fake website.

Hackers often use foreign alphabets where they can create counterfeit websites with addresses that look almost identical to the real thing. I found if I have one erroneous letter in my bank URL, I go to one of the fake sites. Smartphone users can also be fooled into believing links are trustworthy by placing a malicious URL with the stream of hyphens.

Phishing is not always easy to detect. I receive a lot of phishing emails from college students using a .edu domain. They are relatively easy to detect if you look at the message address lines at the top left.

Assume that phishing attacks will occur. Even though you may buy software or subscribe to a service that helps block phishing attempts, it is never perfect. Don't let users assume the filtering software means they don't have to be vigilant.

An attacker can put a symbol on the fake website that claims it is locked, secure, and safe to use. It may contain a bogus TLS certificate for that site.

Is Training Enough?
Training is necessary but not sufficient to deal with phishing attacks. Making users aware of the phishing schemes is a good start. However, when someone sees a screen that looks interesting or an offer that is enticing, there is always a chance of impulsively clicking on that phishing email.

As a training solution, send out false phishing attacks and see what your users do with them. Those who respond to the false attacks should have further training. Don't just train once when the employee first joins the organization. Either have them attend phishing classes about twice a year or have online training with questions and answers where they can interact with a phishing detection module. Keep track of what these users do in the class or what they do with the interactive module. Those whose fail should be trained again. Don't accept a score of less than 100%. If there is one person who responds to the phishing attack, then you are in trouble.

Best Practices
Don't end up a victim of phishing:

  • Most companies, banks, organizations, government agencies, etc., do not request personal information or credentials via email. When in doubt, give them a call (but don't use the phone number contained in the email -- that is fake as well).
  • Use a phishing filter. Many Web browsers have filters built in or offer them as plug-ins.
  • Never follow a link to what you think is a secure site from an email. Always enter the URL contained in the email manually.
  • Don't be fooled by the latest scams. If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn't.
  • Report suspected emails.

Watch for emails that:

  • Insist on urgent action
  • Have unsolicited awards
  • Contain spelling errors
  • Have an unfamiliar or awkward greeting
  • Have an unusual or inconsistent email address, domain name, or link
  • Have suspicious attachments
  • Request login credentials, payment Information, or other sensitive information

Resources for further investigation:


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.