Phishing as a Service

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A recent report from Imperva, Inc. has identified a Phishing as a Service (PhaaS) being offered on a Russian website. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team defines phishing as “an attempt by an individual or group to solicit personal information from unsuspecting users by employing social engineering techniques. Phishing emails are crafted to appear as if they have been sent from a legitimate organization or known individual. These emails often attempt to entice users to click on a link that will take the user to a fraudulent website that appears legitimate. The user then may be asked to provide personal information, such as account usernames and passwords, that can further expose them to future compromises. Additionally, these fraudulent websites may contain malicious code.” According to a report in June 2016 by PhishMe, 93% of phishing emails contain ransomware. Ransomware has crippled hospitals, school districts and police agencies among others. The Imperva report states that for approximately $4,200 per month, users can buy a managed service which will set up a complete phishing scheme, from emails to web pages to back end storage. The purchaser does not need any real technical skills in order to initiate an attack. Imperva estimates that if 1,000 credentials are compromised per day for a 14 day period, there is a positive return on investment. Imperva concludes “[t]he industrialization of PhaaS is a significant threat to cyber security given the role it plays in the distribution of malware. Phishing is the starting point for most cybercrimes. The best way to control the phishing menace is by limiting access to web servers and thereby throwing a wrench into the business model. Financial motivation is the key factor in all cybercrimes. Increasing the financial resources needed to launch large-scale automated attacks is the only way to curb the growth of phishing.”

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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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