Cybercriminals use email account takeover to launch lateral phishing attacks: Barracuda

In about one-third of email account takeover attacks, cybercriminals use additional deceptive behavior to make their lateral phishing emails stealthier, says Barracuda

Barracuda released a new report with key findings about the evolving email threat environment. The latest report, titled Spear Phishing: Top Threats and Trends Vol. 2 – Email Account Takeover: Defending Against Lateral Phishing, reveals new details about these growing and evolving threats, including the latest tactics used by cybercriminals and the critical precautions to help defend your business.

The report takes an in-depth look at how compromised email accounts are being used to launch targeted lateral phishing attacks that are designed to evade many existing email protection systems, and which advanced detection techniques, security awareness training, and other strategies and solutions businesses are using to prevent attacks.

A Closer Look at Evolving Threats

  • Barracuda’s research uncovered fresh insights into how these popular attacks are evolving and the tactics used by cybercriminals to try to make them successful.
  • 1 in 7 businesses experienced lateral phishing attacks in a seven-month period, based on a random sample of enterprise organizations.
  • More than 60 percent of organizations that were attacked experienced multiple incidents.
  • About 11 percent of attacks managed to successfully compromise additional employee accounts.
  • 42 percent of the lateral phishing incidents weren’t reported to the organization’s IT or security team.
  • More than 55 percent of the lateral phishing attacks targeted recipients with some personal or work relationship to the hijacked email account.
  • 37 percent of lateral phishing attacks used tailored content that was enterprise-oriented or highly specific to the victim’s organization.

“Email threats, including account takeover and lateral phishing, continue to evolve, and cybercriminals continue to find new ways to execute attacks, avoid detection, and trick users,” said Mike Flouton, vice president of email security at Barracuda Networks. “Staying ahead of these types of attacks requires an understanding of the latest tactics being used by cybercriminals and the critical precautions available to help defend your business.”

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