The Internet is evolving and so are hackers. Phishing is still one of the biggest threats on the market, and hackers have found new and better ways to get financial information. Hackers are now using their skills to target investors.
How It’s Done
The main target is the individual. Although hackers can get the investor’s info from the investment firm first, hacking the investor’s email is usually much easier.
The hacker gains access to an email address, which can be from a phishing attack or through social engineering. Once the attacker has the email address, he can then quietly access it and read through emails. He usually needs some time to work through several emails. The idea is that he’s looking for communication patterns he can mimic. This can be from reading several of either party’s messages, but he must be able to read enough of the target’s email to gain insight to communication habits.
Once he understands the way the investor and client communicate, he can then use social engineering (and the victim’s email) to convince the investor to send money to the hacker’s account. The hacker mimics conversations from the client in such a way that the investor sometimes doesn’t even verify with the intended victim. The hacker also jams phones or intercepts emails to stop any communication between investor and client.
Before both the investor and the client realize what has happened, the money is transferred and the hacker is long gone. This attack method is becoming more and more popular since the attacker can gain large amounts of money with each attack.
How It Can Be Avoided?
Since hackers can completely wipe investor accounts with this method, it’s imperative that the investor contact the client before transferring funds. Many hackers use international banks in offshores countries to avoid local law enforcement in the victim’s country.
The best defense is to protect email from phishing attacks, since this is how the hacker starts the process. Phishing emails can be stopped at the email server, so the victim never even receives the message. Both investors and clients are subject to this attack. The hacker wants to understand the way clients and investors communicate, so either email system will do.
The right email filters pick up on phishing attacks either from content, the sender address, or from spoofed headers. Spoofed headers are used to trick the user into thinking the email is from an official source, but the email headers show the actual sender location. Most users don’t look at this information and don’t understand the way spoofed messages work. However, the right email filtering system can see the spoofed headers and block it from entering the user’s inbox.
Institutions have the responsibility to protect their investors. It’s important that these institutions understand that they are a main target, so they need to be on high alert. If the investment firm doesn’t already have the necessary email security, it’s imperative that they integrate email filters to stop phishing emails from accessing investor inboxes.