Reasons Behind Successful Phishing Attacks

Phishing is one of the most infamous cyber attack vectors that is widely adopted by attackers for luring victims to reveal their sensitive and confidential information. Phishing attacks are generally carried out through the medium of emails.

Attackers forge fake emails with malicious links. Once the link is clicked and the victim submits its credential, the attacker gains unauthorized access by misusing those credentials. Hence, the victim gets phished.

History of the Emergence of Phishing Attacks

The history of phishing is quite old. It has been prevalent since the good old days of the 90s. America Online (AOL) was one of the top internet service providers during the mid-90s with millions of visitors every single day.

Attackers or ‘Phreaks’ (yes! That’s what attackers used to call themselves. Fancy, right?) started trading pirated software over AOL and formed a ‘warez’ community.

AOL phishing attack
AOL Phishing Attack

This community stole AOL users’ passwords, created random credit card numbers, and spammed users.

This process was automated with the help of windows software AOHell. Once discovered, AOHell was shut down by America Online.

There are many cases that have been reported and even more that have not been reported. On average, 1.2 million phishing attacks occur annually. According to security research, phishing attacks almost doubled to 482.5 million from 246.2 million in the year 2017. Statistics show that phishing accounts for 91% of all cyber attacks.

Why do Attackers Use Phishing Attacks?

Large User base

One of the biggest reasons for the success of Phishing attacks is the widespread use of emails. At present, there are around 2.6 billion email users and this number is expected to cross 4.2 billion by the year 2022. Susceptibility rate of phishing attacks is quite high as attackers can easily find out email addresses, send phishing emails, and there, it’s done.

Humans are the weak link

The other big contributor to the success of phishing attacks is the victim itself. These days, social media has become a huge part of people’s lives. People are putting out their entire lives online. Attackers can easily access the personal information of the victim through a social networking platform that helps in creating personalized phishing attacks (also known as Spear Phishing).

Lack of awareness 

Lack of security awareness among employees is also one of the major reasons for the success of phishing. Organizations should be aware of how the benefits of security awareness training can secure their employees from falling victim to phishing attacks. 

Phishing attack
Pictorial Representation of Employees Fall for Phisher’s Trap

In recent years, attackers have shifted their focus from individuals to employees within the organization. Statistically, 90% of the cyber attacks are the result of employee negligence. During the year 2018, a 76% increase in the number of phishing attacks was observed.

54% of the companies had experienced one or more attacks that compromised their IT infrastructure and data. According to the survey done on 19,000 people, approximately 97% of the people are unable to identify such attempts.

Leniency in the adaption of security measures

The leniency in the adaptation of security measures is one of the biggest reasons for the success of phishing attacks. Studies have shown that organizations lag in spending money on the implementation of cybersecurity measures. During the year 2018, 51% of the organizations have made no change to the budget allocated to ensure cybersecurity.

These reasons play a huge role in the success of such attacks. Therefore, it is extremely important for organizations to implement cybersecurity practices and understand the benefits of following security measures properly. Cybersecurity companies like Kratikal, ensure that your network and infrastructure are secure from cyber attacks. Kratikal offers industry-leading cybersecurity solutions and tools such as cyber attack simulation and awareness tool, email authentication and anti-spoofing solution; anti-phishing, fraud monitoring & take-down solution; phishing incident response, VAPT and secure code review. 

Pallavi Dutta

By Pallavi Dutta

Content Marketer and Team Leader

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