Analyzing phishing attacks against 500,000 mailboxes at 100 organizations

Phishing has evolved from a mere nuisance into a global epidemic in which organizations of all sizes and across all industries are being negatively impacted at high frequency.

analyzing phishing attacks

In 2016 alone, the SANS Institute revealed that 95 percent of all cyberattacks began with spear-phishing; the Ponemon Institute reported 86 percent of all phishing attacks contain ransomware, and the APWG discovered a 65 percent increase in phishing attacks compared to the previous year, totaling 1,220,523 events worldwide.

A new Ironscales study analyzed more than 8,500 verified attacks against 500,000 mailboxes at 100 organizations within the financial services, insurance, healthcare and power industries, among others. All companies were located in either Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Key findings

Spear-phishing is increasingly laser-focused – 77 percent of the verified attacks targeted only 10 mailboxes or less while one-third (33 percent) targeted just one single mailbox

Blast campaigns have become micro-targeted – 47 percent of email phishing attacks lasted less than 24 hours while 65 percent of email phishing attacks lasted for less than 30 days.

Attackers testing ‘drip campaigns’ – Of the email phishing attacks that lasted for more than 30 days, 35 percent lasted for 12 months or more.

Targeted attacks bypassing traditional email spam filters – For every 5 brand spoofed attacks identified by spam filters, approximately 20 spear- phishing attacks bypassed the safeguard and went undetected.

Operations and finance were the most remediated departments while DHL, Google & Amazon were the most frequently spoofed brands.

analyzing phishing attacks

“This report verifies that attackers have adopted numerous tools and techniques to circumvent traditional rules-based email security and spam filters. It’s now incumbent upon all oraganizational leaders to make sure that their employees are well-trained in phishing mitigation and that the cybersecurity technology in place is sophisticated enough to identify, verify and remediate email phishing attacks in real-time,” said Eyal Benishti, CEO of Ironscales.

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