Identity deception-based attacks accounted for 62 percent of all advanced email attacks in the quarter from July through September 2019, according to a report by email security firm Agari. Leveraging data science and intelligence from trillions of emails, the Q4 Email Fraud and Identity Deception Trends report says these percentages are up in the aggregate and the composition of these deceptions is in flux. Email fraudsters favour 2 types of identity deception attacks: Phishing campaigns impersonating brands, and phishing campaigns impersonating individuals.
The findings show that fraudsters deployed phishing campaigns using these two identity deception techniques at record frequency. Phishing campaigns impersonating brands dropped six percent quarter-over-quarter, and phishing campaigns impersonating individuals rose to 22 percent, compared to just 12 percent in the previous quarter.
“Malicious emails impersonating well-known brands are generally associated with credentials-harvesting schemes,” said Patrick R Peterson, founder and CEO, Agari. “And those spoofing trusted individuals are typically linked to more sophisticated, social engineering-based business email compromise attacks.”
The report states that attacks launched from hijacked email accounts declined by two percent this quarter. It estimates that this may be due to cybercriminal organisations spending the early part of this year in full intelligence-gathering mode, gearing up for more lucrative, business email compromise (BEC) attacks to come.
The report warns that the recent rise in email attacks spoofing trusted individuals augers a period of heightened risk from BEC and other highly-sophisticated email scams in the months ahead.
The report also states:
- Payroll diversions now account for 1 in 4 BEC cons, up 5 percent during the last three months.
- DMARC adoption soars 49 percent in past year, but 84 percent of Fortune 500 still remain at risk of brand abuse and phishing attacks of customers.
- Employee-reported phishing incidents jumped 6 percent over the past 90 days; at the same time, the false-positive rate increased, too, to 7 percent.
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