AI Phishing Attacks Illustrate the Importance of Employee Awareness

Robinson+Cole Data Privacy + Security Insider

Retool, a software development firm offering modular code for customizable enterprise software, recently notified 27 customers that a threat actor had accessed their accounts. The attacker was able to navigate through multiple layers of security controls after taking advantage of an employee through an SMS-based phishing attack. The attacker then used this access to target customers in the crypto industry. This was no ordinary phishing attempt, though: the attacker used real time AI voice modulation, as well as deep background intelligence on the office and floorplans, to successfully impersonate a member of the IT team. The employee thought they were talking to someone they knew – they recognized the IT personnel’s voice from having met in person. The authentication happened through a virtual private network, single sign-on, and a final one-time passcode system.

This attack illustrates the raw effectiveness of social engineering, but attackers do not need AI to con many employees and management. Social engineering is the oldest and most persistent attack vector, and anyone can be targeted. Layered and multifactor security is essential, but it’s not enough to secure your company. Anything a person can unlock, they can be duped into unlocking. Organizations are often drawn to technological solutions and the next big thing, but studies show that security awareness training is one of the most effective things an organization can do to reduce its risk of a cyberattack or to mitigate its impact. Realistic tabletop simulations are the most effective training method for learner retention.

Tabletop exercises are used to engage senior leadership and incident response teams in an important exercise in cybersecurity resilience in order to be well prepared for a security incident. These exercises, which may be led by counsel, provide a unique opportunity to be open and transparent about preparedness, and are valuable to prepare for these critical, and sometimes difficult and chaotic, situations before an incident happens.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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