Dear Social Engineering Diary,
Phishing attacks have been with us for many the years. This sub-type of spam involves sending a mass of emails with a generic message that often seeks money. A more limited scope of attack that resurfaces from time to time is related to a phishing attack but is known as ‘Spear phishing’. Spear phishing works by emailing a select group of people with a message directed at them with a subject matter germane to the person. For instance, a person working in an accounting department would be targeted with a fake email that seems related to financing and they would feel compelled to read the email regarding finance.
The latest email scam involves the spear phishing attack with social engineering being added in for effect. With the amalgam currently in use, the attackers complete a reconnaissance of the business, acquiring the domain name, and select persons in the accounting and finance departments, using social engineering techniques to get the specific names of the staff members responsible for wiring and approving the wires. Much of the needed information can often be obtained by social engineers trolling social media sites where people thoughtlessly post their PII (Personal Indentifiable Information.)
Armed with this knowledge, the attacker may send a directly worded email to the person responsible for wiring funds to a bank, generally located in Hong Kong or China, for an invoice or other logical use. The “CEO” may provide in the email that they are exceptionally busy and to ensure the wire is processed soon.
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Charles Parker, II; MBA / MSA / JD / LLM / PhD (ABD)
Information Security Engineer
Ciena Healthcare; Southfield, MI