“Zero-payload” attacks, a growing phenomenon, build trust with targets over time using entirely innocuous communications. Imagine an email from the CEO to an employee in the finance department requesting an immediate transfer of money. And CxO’s have a target on their backs due to the amount of sensitive company information that they hold. Simply put, security products have not moved as quickly as cyberattackers in predicting and preventing new and emerging threats. Using historical patterns and behavioral signifiers to understand relationships between internal and external parties, Tessian Defender identifies malicious impersonations before they have the chance to deceive employees. The employee was duped into giving the … A guide to 'whaling' - targeted phishing attacks aimed at senior executives. Book a free, personalized onboarding call with a cybersecurity expert. Learn about the latest issues in cybersecurity and how they affect you. The following example illustrates a spear phishing attack’s progression and potential consequences: A spoofed email is sent to an enterprise’s sysadmin from someone claiming to represent www.itservices.com, a database management SaaS provider. Perhaps the most notable whaling phishing attack occurred in 2016 when a high-ranking Snapchat employee received an email from a fraudster impersonating the company’s CEO. This also helps us justify spending on IT initiatives, showing how they will help the business. Additionally, if the target organization does not have adequateÂ email security, the attacker can employ email spoofing to make their emails appear to come from a trusted source within the organization, making it even harder to detect the attack. Whaling inevitably reaps far greater rewards for successful attackers and has been instrumental in numerous large-scale incidents: 1. 1. To prevent threats, your security controls must understand human behaviour. Unlike a whaling attack, spear phishing includes an attack designed for individuals. A DDoS attack can be devasting to your online business. Learn where CISOs and senior management stay up to date. A whaling attack is a method used by cybercriminals to masquerade as a senior player at an organization and directly target senior or other important individuals at an organization, with the aim of stealing money or sensitive information or gaining access to … After all, one employee misstep can have serious consequences for an organization. Victims of whaling attack not named, but it’s not the first time a big multinational has been targeted, and it won’t be the last Whaling attacks are a very targeted type of phishing attack, and phishing attacks aren’t going away anytime soon – they’re far too effective. Whaling attacks are a global problem threatening all businesses. In some cases, scammers may pose as the CEO or other corporate officers to manipulate victims into authorizing high-value wire transfers to offshore bank accounts or to go to spoofed websites that install malware. Expand your network with UpGuard Summit, webinars & exclusive events. As with other BEC scams, the usual aim is to extract money from the targeted business by coercing an employee into making illicit wire transfers. For the assessment of your information security controls,Â UpGuard BreachSightÂ can monitor your organization for 70+ security controls providing a simple, easy-to-understandÂ cyberÂ security ratingÂ and automatically detect leaked credentials and data exposures in S3 buckets, Rsync servers, GitHub repos and more. Phishing comes in many forms, from spear phishing, whaling and business-email compromise to clone phishing, vishing and snowshoeing. Tessian Defender stops advanced threats that legacy systems miss. If you'd like to see your organization's security rating,Â click here to request your free CyberÂ Security Rating. It was a difficult process but I think we have managed to do it. Amplify Your Email Security with Granular Threat Visibility & Analytics. Not only that, but Varonis said that whaling went up 200% in 2017 alone, showing that hackers are warming to the idea of going big phishing. 5. Spear phishing is a social engineering attack in which a perpetrator, disguised as a trusted individual, tricks a target into clicking a link in a spoofed email, text message or instant message. Stay on high alert: encourage customer service teams to flag any messages that look suspicious. Indeed, some threats are confined to IP addresses hidden in email headers – undetectable by employees. Every business has a finite number of employees, which makes it easier for security products to keep on top of potentially suspicious activity on “employee” email accounts. fine British Airways £183 million after a 2018 data breach. Whaling is such a worst and dangerous attack that attackers attacked the account of the CEO of Snapchat. As a result, whaling attacks can be very convincing and difficult for both humans and email defenses to catch. Â, In 2016,Â Snapchat fell victim to a whaling attack when a high-ranking employee fell for a CEO fraud emailÂ and revealed employee payroll information. Protect your customers by protecting your brand. Although you might have read about spear phishing campaigns convincing people to click on malicious links or attachments, this is no longer a necessity. Our handy cheat sheet will help. Whaling Attack Examples In 2016, an employee at Snapchat disclosed all of the company’s payroll data to a scammer – the employee had responded to an email that looked to be from the CEO and responded promptly. Keep customer service teams alert BEC can be accomplished in two ways: Perhaps part of the reason Business Email Compromise (BEC) has been so successful is that everyone has a slightly different definition of what it means, and no clear solution to stop it…. Turn your email data into your biggest defense. Lots of employees tend to get phishing emails and many click on the links included in the email without knowing the risks involved. One notable whaling attack occurred in 2016 when a high-ranking employee at Snapchat received an email from an … Mattel: the hacker tricked the financial director into making a transfer (the victim thought the order came from their superiors). The initial step involves fraudsters identifying a company they intend to target. Emails from entities like the IRS (HMRC in the UK), or a communication from a court, have the potential to worry people and cause them to react instinctively, rather than rationally. The FBI stated that businesses worldwide have lost more than $1.2 billion to whaling attacks. And what can be done to stop them? Obviously, no company would enjoy the same level of trust from customers and partners if an employee fell for impersonation fraud, especially if the result was a data breach. Even the most vigilant employees can be foxed by a spear phishing scam if it is sent on a busy day, delivered in a particular tone, or perceived to be from an authoritative source. automatically detect data leaks and leaked credentials so you can prevent data from falling into the wrong hands, Read our guide on data leaks for more information, This is why vendor risk management is so important, Â instantly identify key risks across your vendor portfolio, Read our guide on how to manage third-party risk for more information, Susceptibility to man-in-the-middleÂ attacks, click here to request your free CyberÂ Security Rating, Book a demo of the UpGuard platform today, Unnecessary open administration, database, app, email and file sharing ports. And legislation designed to make fines more than a slap on the wrist is now ramping up all over the world. Book a free, personalized onboarding call with one of our cybersecurity experts. Many whaling attacks target CEOs, CFOs and other executives who have a high level of access to sensitive company information. This could include financial information or employees'Â personal information.Â, The reason whaling attacks target high-ranking employees is because they hold power in companies and often have complete access to sensitive data.Â, The term "whaling" stems from the large size of the potential payoff for the phishing scam, as the "whales" are carefully chosen because of their influence, authority, and access within the company.Â. When second-order financial penalties like fines are taken into account too, BEC can prove extremely damaging to organizations’ balance sheets. Your Ultimate Guide to Human Layer Security →. It is more effective to break down technical aspects into fundamental analogies as this helps them understand the IT perspective much better. Chief Information Officers sometimes have difficulty getting complex ideas across to the rest of the board. In whaling, the targets are high-ranking bankers, executives or others in powerful positions or job titles. What needs to change about how most organizations are handling their IT? Don’t make cybersecurity training a one-off exercise. Of course, a principal aim of BEC attacks is to extract money from targeted organizations. Steve Jobs once said “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”. One form is whaling, and it’s on the rise. BEC attacks, meanwhile, are geared around impersonation. A whaling attack might involve attackers trying to get the executive in question to divulge key credential information or other sensitive organizational data. Hackers will target these teams with phishing emails that contain malicious attachments or links, knowing that staff will need to deal with every customer enquiry they receive. Defending Against Targeted Email Attacks, Austrian aircraft parts manufacturer FACC AG. The cost of employee mistakes will be much higher than the cost of letting them focus on any personal challenges first. Whaling examples. Worryingly, a third of retailers we surveyed do not have these checks in place. Most organizations do not think about how happy their employees are. What is Business Email Compromise? Working from home means that cybercrime is on the rise, and workers aren't as alert as they might be in the office - so we're here to explain how to spot them and what you can do about them. Snapchat reported the incident to the FBI and offered their employees two years of free identity theft insurance.Â, Another well-knownÂ whaling attack involved a Seagate executiveÂ who accidentally exposed the W-2 forms for all current and former employees. Why rule-based technology does not stop BEC Working at a fast pace, on-the-go or outside work hours can lead to CxO’s to make critical mistakes on email and easily be duped into thinking a whaling email is legitimate. Examples of whaling attack. The motivation behind whaling attacks is commonly financial. It’s not the number of data breaches experienced around the world. In these cases, the content will be crafted to target an upper manager and the person's role in the company. Examples of whaling attacks 1. Since individuals in the C-suite are significant to the company leadership, they are called “whales”. What is Spear Phishing? Because they tend to be very busy, and because of their access to key systems, senior executives can be especially profitable targets for attackers. To understand more about the different types of email spoofing and impersonation exploited by cybercriminals, head to the this Tessian blog.) Scammers attacked about 20,000 corporate CEOs, and approximately 2000 of them fell for the whaling scam by clicking the link in the email. The most dramatic example is the 2016 removal of FACC CEO, Walter Stephan, who fell for a whaling attack that led to the finance departmentÂ wiring $56 million to fraudsters. Conveniently for attackers, account takeover is often achieved after a successful spear phishing attack. UpGuard is a complete third-party risk and attack surface management platform. Stay up to date with security research and global news about data breaches. Some of the most impersonated parties around the world are not necessarily businesses at all but institutions. The employee was duped into giving the attacker confidential employee payroll information. Whaling examples In 2016, Seagate’s HR department received an email from a scammer impersonating the company's CEO. An employee at a mid-sized business in Ohio received an email from her boss, the CFO, who was out of town. Achieve Next-generation Compliance by Reducing Email Risk. This makes them more vulnerable to threats like phishing. Originally hired to restructure the bank’s IT operations, he overhauled the IT teams into a highly agile workforce and successfully led numerous IT implementations and migrations. The email uses the itservices.com customer mailing template. The original $12.5bn figure was derived from business losses over a five-year period between 2013 and 2018. 2. The biggest social engineering attack of all … Whaling is related to CEO fraud, with a key difference: instead of impersonating senior executives and targeting lower-ranking employees, attackers target the big fish themselves (hence the term). This kind of attack specifically targets senior management that hold power in companies. This data breach resulted in the exposure of nearly 10,000 current and former Seagate employees' income tax data, leaving them open to income tax refund fraud and identity theft.Â. BEC is a catch-all term often conflated with other kinds of email attacks, like phishing, spear phishing and account takeover. It was the second time that malicious firmware was developed specifically for the purpose of destroying physical machinery – the first being Stuxnet, used by the U.S. and Israel to shut down Iranian nuclear centrifuges in 2009. Institutional impersonation Spear phishing is an advanced phishing attack directed at a specific individual or company, not necessarily an executive. This is a complete guide to security ratings and common usecases. Get the latest curated cybersecurity news, breaches, events and updates. Our expertise has been featured in the likes ofÂ The New York Times,Â The Wall Street Journal,Â Bloomberg,Â The Washington Post,Â Forbes,Â Reuters, andÂ TechCrunch. Later on, the FBI investigated the matter. Its CEO and CFO lost their positions as a result of the attack. Data breach / credential harvesting In response to the email, the payroll staff disclosed all of the company’s payroll data to a scammer. Examples of whaling attack. Austrian plane company FACC lost 56 million dollars to whalers in January, 2016. A tailgating attack can be especially dangerous to mid-sized and larger organizations as there is too much at stake. Not only can hackers target your third-party suppliers to gain access to company information, but they can also impersonate suppliers’ domains and send seemingly legitimate emails to your staff, asking them to wire money or share credentials. No: it refers to the total amount of money stolen from businesses thanks to Business Email Compromise scams, according to the FBI. So how are attackers able to extract such large sums of money from enterprises? Before joining Swedbank, Pierre-Yves worked in IT at both the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and IBM. A whaling attack is a type of spear-phishing attack directed at high-level executives where attackers masquerade as legitimate, known and trusted entities and encourage a victim to share highly sensitive information or to send a wire transfer to a fraudulent account. But going after an organization’s finances can have wide-reaching consequences, also affecting intangible factors like company morale and brand reputation. However, ATO attacks see the attacker literally gain access to an individual’s genuine account, potentially by using brute force “credential stuffing” hacking techniques. Here's how to recognize each type of phishing attack. The Top Cybersecurity Websites and Blogs of 2020. Whaling threats or CEO fraud continues to grow with 67 percent of firms seeing an increase in these email-based attacks designed to extort money. Some examples are: stealing company secrets, money, and equipment. Oftentimes, criminals will gather and use personal information about their target to personalize the email better and increase their probability of success. We base our ratings on the analysis of 70+ vectors including: We can also help you instantly benchmark your current and potential vendors against their industry, so you can see how they stack up. If just one employee falls for a scam, the retailer could face a security breach exposing the personal and financial data of thousands of consumers. One of the scams that resonates most with the media is credential harvesting and the stealing of user data. Examples of a whaling attack. Be wary of spoofed suppliers Read our guide on social engineering for more information. A whaling attack is a spear phishing attack against a high-level executive. Now that you know the basics, let’s put a whaling attack into context with some examples. Nowadays it’s hard to think of data breaches and email attacks without the associated fines brought about by new regulation. Think before you click on email A portion of phishing attacks are known as spear phishing, which is an attack focused on a specific individual, while a whaling attack is spear phishing that focuses on a high-level manager or executive. Examples of a whaling attack. Instant insights you can act on immediately, 13 risk factors, including email security, SSL, DNS health, open ports and common vulnerabilities. 4. Whaling emerges as major cybersecurity threat Fraudsters are using legitimate executive names and email addresses to dupe unsuspecting employees to wire … Whale phishing is a type of phishing attack that focuses on high-profile employee targets, such as the CEO or CFO. This is a complete guide to the best cybersecurity and information security websites and blogs. Examples of Whaling Attacks. Whaling attack examples. That said, they have subtle differences security teams should be aware of.Â. Happy employees are much more likely to behave in a compliant and secure manner. In general, phishing efforts are focused on collecting personal data about users. Subsidiaries: Monitor yourÂ entire organization. So, phishing attacks on these folks get called “whale phishing” As a security professional, you have the mandate of […] ATO attacks are understandably extremely hard for traditional technologies to identify as the “genuine” email account is in use. email impersonation (i.e. Attackers don’t need much capital, special equipment or a particularly advanced skillset. In a stress-inducing attempt at getting their hands on some free money, the attacker sends an ‘urgent’ email. About 55 percent of the 442 IT professionals Mimecast surveyed this month said their organizations have seen an increase in the volume of whaling attacks over the last three months. Perhaps the most notable whaling phishing attack occurred in 2016 when a high-ranking Snapchat employee received an email from a fraudster impersonating the company’s CEO. Examples of Whaling Attacks. However, this can only take you so far. In these attacks, hackers use very refined social engineering techniques to steal confidential information, trade secrets, personal data, and access credentials to restricted services, resources, or anything with economic or commercial value. They most certainly have access to significant amounts of sensitive information, and likely have their attention divided across many parts of the business. A whaling attack is a method used by cybercriminals to masquerade as a senior player at an organization and directly target senior or other important individuals at an organization, with the aim of stealing money or sensitive information or gaining access to … Cybersecurity metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are an effective way to measure the success of your cybersecurity program. Definition of phishing types; spear phishing, whaling, pharming. I pay most attention to human resources because keeping talent is a factor that almost every other IT goal depends on. Luckily, we have been able to escape any major risks for now but it is an ongoing process. They simply aren’t cut out to defend against increasingly sophisticated attackers deploying social engineering techniques and exploiting human frailties in order to trigger dangerous actions. While you can't prevent yourself or your company's executives from being targeted in whaling attacks, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood these attacks will be successful.Â. A lack of employee education when it comes to cybersecurity risks is a very big threat. Business Email Compromise (BEC) is when a trusted relationship – between colleagues or counterparties – is hijacked through email. Encourage your employees to print it and keep it on their desk so that they can identify the cues of a malicious message. Scammers are honing in on the shipping industry, using “whaling,” a.k.a. A company, especially a bank, needs to make sure that employees are happy to work there because the nature of the job cannot allow for mistakes to happen. At their core, the common thread in examples of past successful whaling campaigns aren't too dissimilar from successful phishing campaigns: The messages are seemingly so urgent, so potentially disastrous that the recipient feels compelled to act quickly, putting normal security hygiene practices by the wayside. Scammers are honing in on the shipping industry, using “whaling,” a.k.a. Do you have any advice for new CIOs to help set them up for success? An email security failure can cause share prices to fall and affect organizations’ relationships with their customers. Secure Email Gateways do a great job of preventing run-of-the-mill spam and “bulk” phishing attacks, but they do this with static lists of rules that can only stop attacks the software has already seen. Phishing is the biggest risk for one in five IT decision makers at UK and US retailers during the holiday shopping season. (Attackers might choose to impersonate a display name or a domain in order to fool their target. Whaling is a kind of spear phishing attack that specifically targets senior executives (the “big fish”) in an organization. The dangers of external impersonation are becoming better understood, but there is still a learning curve for security leaders within enterprises. Train temporary staff on the threat The two figures don’t cover identical timespans. A whaling attack might involve attackers trying to get the executive in question to divulge key credential information or other sensitive organizational data. Financial losses Attackers aim to trick the executive’s colleagues into carrying out actions that place data, money and/or credentials at risk. It’s important to note that whaling and CEO fraud are not the same, even though they are sometimes used interchangeably. CEO fraud Here are some of the main consequences cybersecurity leaders should be wary of. Even if the target organization has adequate email security, attackers can exploit a third-party vendor's lack ofÂ cybersecurityÂ and launch theÂ cyber attackÂ via the vendor's domain or buy a similar typosquatted domain name.Â, The goal of a whaling attack is to trick the victim into disclosing personal information, company information or to install different types of malware, like ransomware, by using social engineering, email spoofing, and content spoofing efforts.Â, For example, the attacker may send the victim a spoofed email that appears to be from a trusted source, such as a senior executive or another member of senior management. Whaling phishing is a targeted attack directed at high-level company employees, such as a CEO or CFO. They sent the requested data, leaking the personal details of about 10,000 employees. And that’s where Tessian’s software, trained on over 1 billion emails, comes in. What are the specific tactics you use to engage the board? A typical phishingÂ email takes a quantity over quality approach, sending thousands or even millions of emails to potential victims. 3. Phishing, spear phishing, and whaling share many similarities, primarily all three involve impersonation to elicit information or money from a target. But all businesses have networks of suppliers and vendors, which dramatically increases the number of people attackers might choose to impersonate. Learn why security and risk management teams have adopted security ratings in this post. Another second-order effect could be knocking employees’ morale and denting confidence, making rebuilding work still more difficult. Supplier / vendor fraud Whaling attacks are designed to trick people into doing something like sending a wire transfer or clicking on a malicious link. CEO fraud is a type of spear phishing attack where attackers impersonate a CEO, CFO or another high-level executive. Vishing. Whaling attacks can be quite difficult to spot because of how personalised they are, but usually follow a general trend. Whaling attacks are an impersonation tactic used by scammers in order to trick employees into handing over money or data. This example shows an attacker impersonating a CEO, Thomas Edison, asking an employee to change invoicing details. The board is made up of mainly commercial, financial and legal executives so I find that the best way to express my ideas is through analogies. (Download Tessian’s guide to email impersonation to see this effect in action.) Account takeover Ideally, a whaling attack shouldn’t happen in the first place! Examples of whaling attacks 1. In one of the first big GDPR fines, the UK’s Information Commissioner earlier in 2019 announced its intention to fine British Airways £183m after a 2018 data breach. When attackers go after a “big fish” like a CEO, it’s called whaling. This information can then be used to access confidential systems, or to make subsequent spear phishing attacks within the organization more authentic and effective. In most phishing attacks, an attacker broadcasts an identical email to thousands of recipients. Take the 2008 FBI subpoena whaling scam as an example. Consumers will be inundated with emails touting Black Friday deals this weekend. CEO’s Guide to Data Protection and Compliance →, Building a Human Layer Security Culture at ARM →, Securing the Future of Hybrid Working Report →. The Psychology Behind Phishing Scams and How to Avoid Being Hacked . How to Protect Yourself From Whaling Secure Company Policies. However, both attacks rely on cloning to convince victims of legitimacy. Here are our top tips for your business to survive the Black Friday weekend: View Tessian's integrations, compatibility, certifications and partnerships. What is spear phishing. In one example of a whaling attempt, a number of executives across industries fell for an attack laced with accurate details about them and their businesses, that purported to be from a United States District Court with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury in a civil case. The Bureau’s flagship figure of $12.5bn was revised upwards by more than 100% on September 10th, hitting a staggering $26bn. Peak shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are a golden opportunity for hackers to hide in chaotic inboxes and take advantage of individuals who are not security savvy. Here are some of the main consequences of whaling attacks: Most organizations rely on Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) to keep inboxes safe. 6. The goals of a whaling attack are to trick an executive into revealing personal or corporate data, often through email or website spoofing. 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