What Anti-Phishing Software Can Do for Your Business
Ensure reliable protection for your business by using anti-phishing software
Phishing is one of the most common cyber attacks. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, over a million phishing attacks were recorded in 2022. And, according to IBM, the average cost of data breaches caused by phishing reached $4.35 million in 2022.
Among the many big names affected by phishing are Sony Pictures, Facebook, Google, Ubiquiti Networks, and Upsher-Smith Laboratories.
Smaller organizations and startups are also subjected to regular phishing attacks, which lead to significant money losses and damaged reputations.
The tricky part of phishing is that it relies on the human factor. So, no matter how strong your firewall is or how complex your authorization system is, the chances are that your employees will leak sensitive information through their own actions.
Given this, protecting from phishing attacks is more challenging compared to other types of cyber threats. Luckily, advanced anti-phishing software is evolving faster than malicious intentions, so you can use it to great advantage for your organization.
Different types of phishing
Although phishing can take many forms, a broad phishing definition would be “a type of cyber attack that tries to trick unsuspecting users into downloading malicious software or disclosing sensitive data”. Phishing is a form of social engineering—a way to manipulate people into divulging confidential information, like credentials or financial data.
There are several types of phishing that you should be aware of:
With this type of phishing, malicious senders pretending to be colleagues, customers, or other trusted individuals send emails hoping to gain access to sensitive information.
Currently, email phishers use sophisticated techniques to deceive email recipients. For example, they may use specific word or letter combinations to hide a fake name or title. Or they may incorporate a real company’s name within the URL and add a few more symbols, which an inattentive recipient wouldn’t notice.
For instance, an “r” and “n” written together resembles an “m”. So, instead of writing, for example, Amazon, the hacker may write Arnazon, and the chances are that a potential victim won’t see a difference. A hacker could also send an email from a trusted-looking address but the link redirects recipients to a fake website where they enter credit card details and have their money sent to third-party accounts.
Spear phishing is a highly targeted attack on a specific individual or company. There is a big difference in traditional phishing vs. spear phishing. With a spear phishing attack, malicious messages are tailored to look and feel like genuine emails from a trusted source, such as a business partner or friend.
Such emails are typically composed after thorough research and data collection. The attacker usually knows the affected person’s name, job title, job duties, and the names of people they trust. Using this information, they compose an email using details that the victim thinks only a trusted person can know.
Therefore, even the most cautious, educated and security-conscious personnel can fall victim to spear phishing.
Whale phishing is similar to spear phishing but targeted at high-level executives. The victims of whale phishing receive emails from who they believe to be upline managers with an urgent request for a money transfer. While potential victims may have seeds of doubt in the reliability of information, they are likely to follow the directions of their “manager” in order not to appear unprofessional and slow to act in urgent situations.
The whale emails usually do not contain any malicious links or payment details. Instead, the victim is forced to personally request details for the money transfer, which makes the situation appear even more convincing.
Smishing and vishing
Smishing and vishing are types of phishing scams that use SMS and telephone calls to deceive the victim. The nature of smishing and vishing is the same as that of traditional phishing attacks but the means are diverse.
A typical example of phishing is receiving an SMS, supposedly from a bank, with a request to change a password or an alert about suspicious activity regarding an account. By following the link provided in the SMS, the recipient will often be taken to a malicious website which aims to steal their payment details.
Vishing attacks work the same way. The only difference is that the victim is contacted by phone rather than SMS.
Angler phishing is usually carried out on social networks, and attackers use non-standard situations to deceive the victim when they least expect it.
Here are some examples of angler phishing:
An angry customer writes a negative review of a company on a social network. The attackers apologize on behalf of the company and ask the customer to enter payment details on a fake site in order to compensate for the inconvenience.
A person loses a valuable item and offers a reward for its return. The attackers contact the victim, say that they have found the lost item (although this is not the case), and ask that the reward is sent to a specific bank account.
A person complains that they cannot log into their bank account. The attackers respond on behalf of the bank's support, asking them to go to a fake site and enter credentials to restore access.
How anti-phishing software can prevent phishing attacks
It may seem that phishing attacks are all about deception and playing on human feelings, and the only way to counter them is to educate employees on security measures. However, while security education is a crucial factor in phishing prevention, advanced technologies can enhance the anti-phishing fight with great results.
So, what can anti phishing software do? Here are just a few examples.
Identify fake brands
Fake websites use corporate colors, logos, and brand signatures that look and feel as if they are original. Humans won’t recognize any difference if an attacker has made the necessary effort to create a quality copy. However, artificial intelligence can quickly identify the deception and send a warning message to advise the user to leave the website. AI uses image recognition technology that detects the slightest differences from the original, whether it's a different shade of color or an extra mole on a model's face.
Detect fake URLs
Anti-phishing security software uses lexical analysis techniques to detect fake URLs. Here is what anti-phishing software analyzes:
the structure of the URL and the presence of suspicious words
the number of parameters passed inside the URL
the type of coding used to encode the parameters
the presence of email addresses, suspicious domain names, and more
If any of the above are detected, the anti phishing protection softwarealerts a user about the high probability of a phishing attack.
Investigate sender reputation
Automated anti-phishing security software can browse the net and gather all the available information related to an email sender. It may identify a sender IP address or email, and study its past activities and behavior patterns.
This process is similar to KYC (Know Your Customer) and KYB (Know Your Business) when smart algorithms collect and analyze information about a specific individual or organization.
If any suspicious behavior is detected the email receiver will receive a warning message.
Identify spoofed representations
This is extremely useful in vishing, when scammers contact a potential victim via a phone call or video call. Attackers may use spoofed representations to mimic other persons’ voices or even video images.
Spoofed representationsuse NLP (natural language processing) technology to interpret human speech. This technology allows the program to understand language structure, direct and figurative meaning of words, and idioms and colloquialisms. NLP makes the virtual speaker sound so natural that a human does not notice the difference between machine and human speech.
However, the best anti phishing software is even smarter than phishing tools and can detect non-human interlocutors, even though they behave like human beings. It immediately warns a user about the risk of a robot making the call and the possibility of a scam.
Analyze staff behavior
Anti-phishing software can be extremely helpful in staff education and training. It identifies situations where a user was deceived and then provides a detailed analysis of such a situation so that the user does not fall for such deception again.
A recent project implemented by Erbis was about just that.
At the request of the client, we created SaaS that helps businesses control the security behavior of their employees. The system consists of the following components:
an email module, which monitors incoming and outgoing email traffic
a user-behavior module, which analyzes how users react to certain emails
an analytics module, which provides valuable insights about staff behavior in critical situations
The product had great success. The client reported that seven large corporate clients started using this system soon after the launch, and they expect an even bigger surge in software demand shortly.
Do you want to create anti-phishing software?
Protection against hacker attacks is not just a trend, it’s a necessity. Whether you're an enterprise or a startup, you're probably dealing with data that could be of interest to hackers.
To protect your software from unauthorized access and data breach, you must first develop a comprehensive security policy and train your personnel on security measures.
If you want to build an even more sophisticated security system for your business, you should use anti-phishing software. Such software will help you identify malicious emails, links, and URLs and allow you to analyze the staff response to critical situations.
At Erbis, we have eleven years of experience in software development and a proven track record in implementing anti-phishing projects. We have strong expertise in AI/ML technologies, big data management, and cloud tools. Using a comprehensive software development approach that starts with business analysis and ends with product maintenance, we can create a solution that 100% meets your business and market needs.
So, if you need to develop anti-phishing software or are just looking for security advice, don't hesitate to get in touch.