Phishing as a Service: Exploring the Good and the Bad

Phishing AlertCybersecurity and data protection are more important than ever, particularly among businesses. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reports that 14,446,305 records were exposed in the 57 data breaches identified as of October 2018.

The business sector, followed by medical and healthcare facilities, was affected the most this year:

Twenty-five out of the 57 cyber attacks were on businesses, which exposed 380,073 records.

Medical and healthcare facilities had 22 breaches and 63,985 records exposed.

CMIT Solutions stresses the necessity of implementing a multi-layered cybersecurity plan. The company also highlights the importance of conducting cybersecurity risk assessments. After all, knowing the vulnerabilities of your business operations is the key to building a good defense.

Small Businesses Often Face Phishing Attacks

Hackers usually target small and medium businesses (SMB), rather than larger corporations. Sixty-one percent of respondents in a 2017 study experienced cyber attacks within the year. The same report found that phishing is the most common form of cyber attack that SMBs face.

In a phishing attack or scam, cybercriminals contact their targets through email. They pretend to be a legitimate organization to gain people’s trust. The emails also look real and often elicit a sense of urgency, fear, or curiosity. It tricks the receivers into filling in forms or opening attachments to get to their sensitive information.

That’s only the most common phishing scam. There are many different phishing types, including:

  • Spear phishing
  • Whaling or CEO fraud
  • Vishing or Voice over IP phishing
  • SMiSHing or SMS phishing
  • Pharming
  • Ransomware phishing

What is Phishing as a Service?

Organizations have an extensive list of cybersecurity solutions they can implement. However, none of those solutions can guarantee complete protection against phishing attacks. There’s no practical way to prevent any business employee from clicking a phishing email and giving out sensitive information.

Ensuring constant vigilance among employees is vital to protect against phishing attacks. In recent years, Phishing as a Service (PHaaS) has become a relatively popular way to test how businesses’ respond to phishing scams.

PHaaS allows companies to conduct phishing attack simulations. IT solutions companies use security testing programs to launch a controlled phishing campaign. Following that, businesses receive analyses and reports regarding how their employees fared in the test. They’re able to use the data to develop training programs, as well as track and measure results over repeated assessments.

PHaaS helps employees learn how to recognize fraudulent emails. It also trains them to react to phishing attacks properly. Implementation of PHaaS programs may also help reduce malware infection rates.

The Dark Side of PHaaS

Despite all of its benefits, PHaaS programs pose risks, too. PHaaS programs also make it easier for hackers to launch phishing attacks. All they need to do is buy legitimate security testing programs from the Dark Web. Even unskilled hackers can run a phishing scam this way.

In the hands of criminals, PHaaS programs can be used to gather specific information, such as employee names and emails, subdomains, servers, and usernames. They can then use the gathered data to make believable phishing messages.

Make sure to keep these risks in mind when considering IT solutions providers to conduct a PHaaS program and assessment on your company. Choose one with a good track record and reputation among clients.