Cybercrooks exploit human flaws in about 99% of their attacks, using social engineering across email, cloud applications and social media to gain a foothold in a targeted infrastructure, new research shows. Almost all cyber-attacks begin with luring employees into clicking on malicious content.
Cybercriminals target mainly people, rather than systems, to install malware, steal data or initiate fraudulent transactions, according to Proofpoint”s 2019 Human Factor report.
“Cybercriminals are aggressively targeting people because sending fraudulent emails, stealing credentials, and uploading malicious attachments to cloud applications is easier and far more profitable than creating an expensive, time-consuming exploit that has a high probability of failure,” says Proofpoint”s chief of threat operations.
More than 99% of threats require human interaction to execute, such as enabling a macro, opening a file, following a link, or opening a malicious document. This means social engineering plays a crucial role in a successful attack.
Nearly 1 in 4 phishing emails sent in 2018 were associated with Microsoft products, and the top phishing lures focused on credential theft, creating feedback loops, lateral movement and internal phishing.
Hackers are refining tools and techniques while the top malware families over the past 18 months have consistently included banking Trojans, information stealers, RATs, and malware designed to remain undetected on infected devices and exfiltrate data to help in future attacks.
Other findings include:
The results underscore the importance of conducting thorough cybersecurity audits as well as staff training, as employees remain the weakest link in targeted cyber threats.