Using the L.U.R.E. Method to Swim Free of Phishing Attacks

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bait·​fish | ˈbāt-ˌfish  

Definition of baitfish

: a small fish (such as a golden shiner or menhaden) that attracts and is a food source for a larger game fish

also : a fish used for bait


Think about being in a school of fish for a second. Schools behave the way they do for a reason.  

“Most fish exhibit schooling during some phase of their life cycle, research has shown. Fish evolved to swim in schools to better protect themselves from predators, improve their foraging and swim more efficiently.”

“Unlike shoaling, in which fish merely swim loosely together, schooling requires coordinated body positions and synchronized movement. Fish in schools need to sense their environment with high accuracy, maintain awareness of their position within the school, and respond quickly to changes in both water currents and movement of the group.”

I think a lot of security programs have this mindset (hiding among everyone, my data is no more important than anyone else’s – why would someone try to get me?) I think this is true for most consumers as well. “Why would someone come after me. I don’t have anything of value!”

With this mindset, we are relying on numbers and relying on hiding among other fish hoping we don’t get plucked out and served up as dinner or as a way to attract a bigger fish. Remember, attackers may be phishing you to use you to get to the bigger phish. Don’t be dinner and don’t be a bait fish.

The first thing to remember is a good “phisher” is going to be tricky. They will try and LURE you in.

“A fishing lure is a type of artificial fishing bait which is designed to attract a fish’s attention. The lure uses movement, vibration, flash and color to bait fish. Many lures are equipped with one or more hooks that are used to catch fish when they strike the lure.”

Lures come in all shapes and sizes. One may look exactly like an email from your boss. Or your CEO. Or your partner. It may look exactly like communications from a third-party provider used in your supply chain. The level of sophistication has risen greatly over the last few years. It is not enough anymore to simply look for incorrect spellings and grammar mistakes (although they still do this too). Phishers will use any information they can find on the internet about you to make the LURE seem more attractive.

Many lures are equipped with one or more hooks that are used to catch fish when they strike the lure. Some lures are placed to attract fish so a spear can be impaled into the fish or so the fish can be captured by hand.”

Note the “one or more hooks” portion of the statement above. Expect multiple emails. The bad actors won’t simply stop if you delete an email. Diligence against phishing needs to be a full time effort, not a singular effort.

To help combat phishing I would like to introduce the L.U.R.E method to spot phishing.

Look at the communication.

Phishing won’t always come through email. It may come through text, Facebook Messenger, Twitter or any other method you use to communicate. Remember, a good phisher knows where the best phish are. Also, are there grammatical or spelling errors? Often, attackers don’t speak the native language as the populations they are trying to phish. You may be able to weed out some phishing attempts right away by paying attention to the email’s basic hygiene. 

Understand the goal.

Are they looking for information (especially personal information or passwords)? Are they trying to create a sense of urgency? Whether they are trying to get you to click on something, do something, or call you on the phone (remember not every social engineering attack comes through electronic communications) what they are trying to do is create a sense of urgency. They know you are busy and are trying to get you to move before you have a chance to consider the ramifications. Take a minute to pause if you are unsure. Are they trying to get you to just click on an attachment? Are they trying to get you to go to a website that looks like your bank but isn’t? Remember, in most cases, your service providers will not send you communications asking for this type of information. Always log in to those services separately and see if they are actually trying to communicate.

Report anything suspicious.

Report in to your service provider if you are unclear about an email’s intent. Report it to your IT or information security team as well. This will help protect other customers and other employees in your organization. If you believe you have fallen victim, report it to law enforcement.

Expect that bad actors are always trying to trick you.

This is (and will remain) the future of communications for the foreseeable future. Phishers aren’t going to stop. Phishing is too profitable and too easy. However, if we harden ourselves against phishing attacks and they work less frequently, the bad actors may just start to use other methods. Today, humans remain the most exploitable fish to go after.

While hiding in numbers may seem like an effective technique to prevent being caught in a phish, it’s not a reliable deterrent against determined phishers. Remember, their lures are custom made to attract the phish they want. Don’t be attracted by a shiny object. Chances are there is a line attached to it just waiting to reel you in.

For more information on phishing defense best practices, download Carbon Black’s latest threat report, which noted there to be a 57% increase in attempted cyberattacks during the holiday season.

The post Using the L.U.R.E. Method to Swim Free of Phishing Attacks appeared first on Carbon Black.

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About Carbon Black, Inc.
Carbon Black is the leading provider of next-generation endpoint security. Carbon Black’s Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV) solution, Cb Defense, leverages breakthrough prevention technology, “Streaming Prevention,” to instantly see and stop cyberattacks before they execute. Cb Defense uniquely combines breakthrough prevention with market-leading detection and response into a single, lightweight agent delivered through the cloud. With more than 7 million endpoints under management, Carbon Black has more than 2,500 customers, including 30 of the Fortune 100. These customers use Carbon Black to replace legacy antivirus, lock down critical systems, hunt threats, and protect their endpoints from the most advanced cyberattacks, including non-malware attacks.

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