Threat actors exploit new channels for advanced phishing attacks

Perception Point’s team has identified a 356% increase in the number of advanced phishing attacks attempted by threat actors in 2022. Overall, the total number of attacks increased by 87%, highlighting the growing threat that cyber attacks now pose to organizations.

advanced phishing attacks increase

Phishing attacks increase

Throughout 2022, Perception Point’s team analyzed several concerning trends. Firstly, malicious actors continue to gain widespread access to new tools and advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) which simplify and automate the process of generating attacks.

Consequently, they are increasingly able to effortlessly launch sophisticated attacks – many of which are characterized by social engineering as well as evasion techniques, such as URL redirection, which make it difficult for the victim to identify them as malicious.

The team also identified how the threat landscape is changing due to the rapid adoption of new cloud collaboration apps, cloud storage, and services for productivity and external collaboration.

Threat actors have pivoted their attack toolkits, reaching beyond email and web browsers to these apps and services. While email and the browser remain the leading attack vectors, 2022 saw a 161% surge in attacks on all other channels, such as cloud storage and collaboration apps.

Phishing proved to be the most pervasive threat, accounting for 67.4% of all attacks. 2022 also saw a significant increase in Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks, which grew by 83%.

BEC attacks, in which cybercriminals impersonate legitimate businesses and leverage social engineering techniques as well as thread hijacking to obtain large sums of money or confidential data, are often difficult for traditional email security solutions to detect.

The weakest link

In addition, these types of attacks, which are text-based, target individual employees, who are the weakest link in an organization’s security chain – even when they are highly trained.

“As the global threat landscape continues to evolve, we are sharing vital data that portrays the meteoric rise in the number of attacks, combined with increasingly sophisticated attack techniques that are designed to breach and damage organizations,” said Yoram Salinger, CEO of Perception Point.

“This report clarifies the need for organizations to be vigilant in protecting their people from modern threats across the multiple business and collaboration channels, augmenting or replacing traditional security systems with effective prevention and rapid remediation services when required,” Salinger continued.

Team has also found:

  • A 363% rise in phone scam attacks over 2022. In these attacks, attackers pose as legitimate companies and leverage social engineering techniques to invoke the user to call various support phone numbers. When the targets call, they are prompted by “helpful support teams” to provide personal information.
  • Microsoft was the brand most impersonated in malicious email, 3.3x more than the next most impersonated brand, LinkedIn.
  • Advanced attacks, which are complex, sophisticated, and can cause the greatest damage to the organization, made up 2% of all threats, but this proportion rose significantly when analyzing particular channels. Advanced attacks constituted 31.9% of the total on file storage tools, and some 56.9% on Amazon S3 buckets.
Share this