A link is not always what it seems. Hackers have gone to great lengths to create convincing websites that look just like the real deal. Oftentimes, this is spoofing a major company such as Microsoft. By convincingly spoofing legitimate websites, bad actors are hoping to encourage end-users to enter their credentials. Thus, URL phishing is a pretext for credential harvesting attacks.
When done properly, URL phishing can lead to usernames, passwords, credit cards, and other personal information being stolen. The most successful ones often require users to login into an email or bank account. Without proper defenses, end-users and companies could easily fall prey.
Here, we discuss the basics of URL phishing and a summary of the best practices for stopping these attacks.
Phishing attacks commonly begin with an email and can be used in various attacks. URL phishing attacks take phishing a step further to create a malicious website. The link to the site is embedded within a phishing email, and the attacker uses social engineering to try to trick the user into clicking on the link and visiting the malicious site.
URL phishing attacks can use various means to trick a user into clicking on the malicious link. For example, a phishing email may claim to be from a legitimate company asking the user to reset their password due to a potential security incident. Alternatively, the malicious email that the user needs to verify their identity for some reason by clicking on the malicious link.
Once the link has been clicked, the user is directed to the malicious phishing page. This page may be designed to harvest a user’s credentials or other sensitive information under the guise of updating a password or verifying a user’s identity. Alternatively, the site may serve a “software update” for the user to download and execute that is actually malware.
URL phishing attacks use trickery to convince the target that they are legitimate. Some of the ways to detect a URL phishing attack is to:
URL phishing attacks can be detected in a few different ways. Some of the common solutions include:
These common phishing detection mechanisms can catch the low-hanging fruit. However, phishers are growing more sophisticated and using methods that bypass these common techniques. For example, phishing sites may be hosted on SaaS solutions, which provides them with legitimate domains. Protecting against these more sophisticated attacks requires a more robust approach to URL scanning.
Check Point and Avanan have developed an anti-phishing solution that provides improved URL phishing protection compared to common techniques. This includes post-delivery protection, endpoint protection to defend against zero-day threats, and the use of contextual and business data to identify sophisticated phishing emails.
Learn more about how phishing and social engineering attacks have grown more sophisticated over the years with the Social Engineering Ebook. Then sign up for a free demo of Check Point Harmony Email and Office to learn how to block the phishing emails that other solutions miss.