sb-eu logo
Story image

Social media phishing on the rise as attackers experiment with tactics

05 Mar 2018

Social media has eclipsed financial institutions for the most popular targets for phishing attacks, suggesting a pivot in tactics away from traditional cloud service providers.

In this context, phishing is characterised as the ways cybercriminals innovate to trick users into handing over personal information, financial information and user account details..

RiskIQ’s Q4 2017 statistics looked at 27.285 blacklisted phishing domains that targeted 259 unique brands.

While the number is lower than in the previous quarter, the firm saw a ‘stark’ increase in phishing campaigns leveraging social media platforms.

Why are attackers going after social media? RiskIQ says there are several reasons why this may be the case.

“For one, the growth in popularity of financial integrations within social media platforms that, for example, give users the ability to send and receive money, can make for an easy payday. There’s also the possibility of using sensitive information from posts, messages, and profiles that can be used as lures in social engineering attacks.”

While social media platforms are becoming a popular target, financial institutions still make up the majority of phished brands. 40% of brands are financial institutions; 20% are social media platforms; 20% are large tech companies; and 20% are digital transaction providers.

In Q3 2017, only 10% of phishing attacks leveraged social media platforms.

RiskIQ will not name the brands used as part of the phishing attacks, but does name some of the registrars and hosting providers that are helping to cause trouble.

“There are two types of phishing sites: those that use compromised websites and those that use malicious registrations,” RiskIQ notes in its Q3 report.

Behind the scenes, data suggests that there are a handful of domain registrars behind the scenes, including the likes of Hostinger, GoDaddy and eNom. These have apparently become ‘tried and true’ tools for phishers.

Meanwhile hosting providers responsible for propagating phishing attacks are a little more difficult to pin down: Hostinger and CyrusOne featured heavily in Q4 data for blacklisted URLs by hosting provider, however only one of the culprits appeared in Q3 data.

The company notes that phishing tends to happen in a cyclical pattern. This contributed to a slight overall drop in detections.

“The number of observed domains and targeted brands remained relatively close each quarter, but the number of unique URLs varied widely,” RiskIQ explains.

“Financial institution targets showed a general decline while social media targets showed a general increase, especially over the last quarter. Q4 was also the first quarter observed where the top targeted brand was a social media platform. While this is not a new phenomenon by any means, our data has never displayed its presence as prominently as Q4 of 2017,” the company concludes.

Story image
Remote staff overestimating knowledge of cybersecurity basics
‘Unconscious incompetence’ is one of the most difficult issues to identify and solve with security awareness training.More
Story image
Bitglass receives US patent for SAML technology
Bitglass designed its SAML relay to allow a cloud access security broker (CASB) to be inserted into the traffic flow between users and cloud services during the login process.More
Story image
The guide to digital security in unstable times
An increase in vulnerability across different sectors has meant that 2020 has seen more than its fair share of cybersecurity incidents. One of the most effective ways to combat the perils of today’s cyber-threats is to gain a better knowledge of the threat vectors looming over the heads of organisations. More
Story image
High-tech heist: why fending off ransomware attacks is more challenging than ever in 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has unleashed a wave of sophisticated and disruptive ransomware attacks, and the onus is on businesses to ramp up their security measures if they’re to avoid falling victim, writes Attivo Networks regional director for A/NZ Jim Cook.More
Story image
GCloud updates capabilities with Anthos enhancements
Google Cloud has announced improvements for hybrid compatibility, services, development, migration and identity security with updates to Anthos.More
Story image
Phishing scam imitates SharePoint & OneNote for nefarious clicks
Sophos researchers say that the attackers take a slightly different approach to the standard ‘fake login’ phishing email.More