A new report suggests that 2020 saw an increase in phishing emails that relied on remotely-hosted images to help malicious emails slip past filtering technology.
Vade Secure analysed 26.2 million remote images while blocking 262 million emails containing malicious, remotely hosted images. Researchers claimed that there was a significant increase in the use of this tactic compared with 2019. They also stated that the typologies of threats are broader, citing examples of phishing schemes imitating known brands such as SunTrust, PayPal, Amazon and Bank of America.
Standard phishing emails featuring largely text-based content are often unable to sneak past email security solutions’ textual content analysis. But attackers can avoid such analysis and defeat certain older, legacy email defences by delivering the same content in an image instead of text. As email filters have upgraded their ability to analyse images for malicious signatures, adversaries have stepped up their game by hosting these images externally, instead of embedding them in the email itself.
However, other companies have said that phishes leveraging remotely hosted images are an old hat concept at this point – something that multi-layered email security solutions should be able to stop through a combination of modern detection strategies and tools. Another drawback for attackers who use text-based images in phishing emails – whether they are embedded or remotely hosted – is that recipients of these messages are not necessarily expecting to receive images in their business emails.
Modern security hygiene – including better user awareness training, a stronger focus on monitoring prevalent attack vectors and blocking messages from lookalike domains – should quash the bulk of these threats as very few people are focused on the risk-vector approach, so they just keep creating new detectors which does not really solve the problem.
With thanks to the Cyber Defence Alliance and SC Magazine. The full story is here: https://www.scmagazine.com/home/email-security/surge-in-remotely-hosted-phish-images-some-say-its-business-as-usual/
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