Linda Musthaler | May 12, 2011

“Don’t open that email!" How to reduce the threat of phishing

Do you think of phishing as a consumer problem and not a concern for enterprise networks? If you said yes, you'd better think again. According to the Verizon 2010 Data Breach Investigations report, the use of social tactics as a means to initiate a data breach is on the rise.

Social tactics employ deception, manipulation or intimidation to exploit the human element, or users, of information assets. Phishing is still one of the leading social tactics used to gain illicit access to a network or the information stored on that network.

We might laugh about some of the obviously bogus phishing emails, such as the ones from a deposed Nigerian prince with millions of dollars in assets he needs help to claim. But consider this: Social networks such as Facebook and  LinkedIn provide phishers with some very explicit personal information that can be used to gain a person's confidence and deceive him into believing that a phishing email is actually legitimate. If a person sees relevant personal information in an email subject line or message, he is much more likely to open the email or follow the embedded links. Before he realizes it, the user can become the victim of a drive-by download of malware, or he might offer up sensitive information that can be used to penetrate his organization's network...

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