Executive Phishing Can Sink Your Company

April 22, 2021

Among the many subtypes of phishing, executive phishing or whaling is a particularly dangerous variety. A successful attack of this type can land cybercriminals a major victory. Not only do executive accounts see less routine email traffic, but executives can also typically make budget decisions, order services or direct payments – direct them straight into cybercriminals’ pockets. These high-level accounts are also often highly privileged too, allowing bad actors to gain access to systems and data at a more impactful level. All in all, executive phishing is very dangerous, especially with phishing risks elevated in the post-pandemic cybercrime wave – more than 60% of bad actors using phishing as their primary vector of attack. But taking smart precautions can help spot and stop executive phishing or whaling before it lands your company in hot water.

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Hooking the Big One

Cybercriminals will gladly put in the extra time, effort and energy that is required to pull off the complex social engineering maneuvers that enable them successfully phish an executive account because it delivers a sea of benefits to them like:

  • Credibility and contacts to use in impersonation scams
  • Access to fast payments or money transfers
  • Prime real estate for business email compromise (BEC)
  • An identity that can unlock other resources within a company
  • A valuable asset to sell in dark web markets
  • Privileged access to the target company’s systems and data

There are a variety of ways for cybercriminals to conduct executive phishing and whaling campaigns, even if they’re not adept at phishing. The world economy may be challenged, but the dark web economy is thriving and everything from ransomware to done-for-you cybercrime kits complete with data are available for the right price. Plug and play phishing kits give even the least experienced cybercriminals an opportunity to take a shot at executives and highly privileged users. Credential harvesting tools are widely available and affordable, giving cybercriminals an easy way to use a phishing message to lure privileged users into providing their login.

This type of phishing requires specialized targeting and knowledge of a company’s structure. Cybercriminals can easily and economically gather data about their targets from dark web markets and data dumps. The staggering amount of data available to use in these schemes is only growing as more data from more breaches is added to the pool. More than 22 million new records were added to the dark web in 2020. Bad actors can also leverage publicly available sources like LinkedIn and business directories to find opportunities to connect with targets and create a believable lure.

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Do Your Big Fish Have Enough Protection?

There’s a big reason why executive phishing or whaling can be easier to accomplish for cybercriminals than just phishing the general employee populace at a company. Many organizations do not require high-level users like executives, managers, administrators, or senior staff to regularly undergo security awareness training, making them less likely to spot phishing messages. Companies that conduct regular security awareness training for every user have 70% fewer damaging cybersecurity incidents like a phishing-related credential compromise.

Taking sensible precautions includes using updated technology to fight back against cybercrime. Stop those phishing messages from reaching their targets with automated email security. Organizations that are using a smart phishing defense solution can avoid many of these risks while providing powerful security for in-house, remote or hybrid workers. With Graphus, your incoming emails don’t just get compared to a generic safe sender list. It analyzes your company’s communication using over 50 data points, and content is just as important in its calculus and the sender and subject, unlike many conventional email security solutions.

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You also don’t have to feed the smart AI threat data or wait for its knowledge base to be updated by another solution for Graphus to recognize zero day and zero hour threats. The secret to the amazing protection that you get from Graphus is in the AI. The power of our agile, smart AI and patented algorithm means that Graphus never stops learning on its own, enabling it to grow with your business to keep up with the flow of traffic and risk. That means that even new sources of danger aren’t hiding from Graphus, so that fewer phishing messages reach their intended target to prevent that one fatal click.

Prevent executive phishing or whaling from damaging your organization by preventing phishing messages from reaching your privileged users without damaging your budget when you choose Graphus. Advances in AI technology have put solutions like Graphus in reach for every company. Plus, you’re getting more effective protection than you would with alternatives. Graphus is 40% more effective at spotting and stopping phishing messages than traditional security or a SEG. And it does it all automatically, without anyone on the IT team chasing after an alert.

Contact our solutions experts today to see how you’ll benefit from putting Graphus to work for you.