How Spear Phishing Puts Businesses on the Hook

 
 
By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 01-21-2016 Email
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    How Spear Phishing Puts Businesses on the Hook
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    How Spear Phishing Puts Businesses on the Hook

    Detecting fake messages can be difficult even for those with a trained eye, and criminals are becoming expert at exploiting organizations from the top down.
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    In the Crosshairs
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    In the Crosshairs

    84% of survey respondents estimated that a spear-phishing attack had penetrated their organization's security defenses.
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    On the Hook
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    On the Hook

    On average, respondents estimated that 28% of spear attacks get through their organization's security defenses.
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    Damage Control
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    Damage Control

    The most common problems resulting from a spear-phishing attack: diminished employee productivity (41%), financial loss (32%), damage to company reputation (29%) and brand reputation (27%).
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    Taking Stock
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    Taking Stock

    15% of respondents said that their company had experienced a decrease in stock price as a result of a successful spear-phishing attack.
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    Who's the Target?
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    Who's the Target?

    Leading targeted over the last 12 months include: IT (44%), financial teams (43%), sales staff (29%), CEO (27%) and other executive staff (24%).
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    Preparation Is Lacking
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    Preparation Is Lacking

    Only 11% of respondents think their organization is fully prepared to deal with spear-phishing attacks.
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    Training Breakdown
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    Training Breakdown

    Nearly 80% of organizations use staff training to prevent attacks. However, only 3% of those that test employees' responses to spear-phishing attacks find that all employees passed.
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    Bad Marks Abound
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    Bad Marks Abound

    On average, respondents estimated that 16% of staff failed their organization's most-recent spear phishing test.
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    Solutions Matter
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    Solutions Matter

    71% of organizations have implemented a solution to prevent spear phishing. Within this group, 80% use a secure e-mail gateway and 64% rely on a secure Web gateway.
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    Costs Count
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    Costs Count

    On average, respondents estimated the financial impact of spear phishing to their organization over the last 12 months to be more than $1.6 million.
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    Recommendations
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    Recommendations

    Use more modern security technologies designed to protect against spear phishing and continue to educate and train employees—from the C-suite to administrative groups—to spot bogus messages.
 

These days, cyber-attacks seem to arrive from almost every direction and tap increasingly sophisticated methods. Yet, spear phishing—which serves up realistic-looking e-mails and messages directed to a specific person, usually in an attempt to steal credentials—are among the most insidious and effective attack methods. Detecting fake messages can be difficult even for someone with a trained eye and knowledge about proper security methods. A new study conducted by Cloudmark and VansonBourne, The Impact of Spear Phishing on UK and US Businesses, examines the evolving world of spear phishing, which now wreaks havoc on organizations and government entities across the world. In fact, the study of 300 IT decision-makers in the U.S. and UK revealed that spear-phishing attacks are often effective, they result in numerous problems and they typically damage an organization's reputation. Overall, the financial impact can run into the millions of dollars. Here's a look at some of the key findings from the survey.

 
 
 
 
 
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

 
 
 
 
 
 

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