Persistence of Phishing

By David Jemmett, founder and CEO, Cerberus Sentinel

Read the full article here

We’re all likely to have experienced some form of phishing in our lifetimes and are likely to experience it again in the future. Time and time again, cybercriminals are resorting to tried and true methods of phishing and business email compromise (BEC) for financial gain. An overwhelming 80% of security incidents begin with a phishing attack and an average of almost $18,000 is lost every minute. Recently, a BEC scamming ring was caught which managed to successful hit nearly two million targets, obtaining almost $500 million. With such a high success rate, it is no surprise that criminals are continuing on the trend of phishing scams. 

It’s a universal truth in security that phishing emails are in a constant state of development on the attacker end, becoming more and more sophisticated with criminals incorporating official-looking headshots, phone numbers and signatures from a genuine law firm. Those unfortunate enough to click on the attached PDF that would have no doubt found malware rattling through their computer and beyond, ensuing large amounts of damage. While we’re lucky to be in the industry we are, and understand these threats, not everyone has the same awareness or experience on their side. 

Upon further investigation into some phishing emails I had recently received, I found that some details didn’t add up. For starters, the location of the sender didn’t match up with the location of the real attorney’s office, in fact, they were in completely different states. Then, we calling the phone number given in the email, which was answered as though it were a legitimate law firm but revealed that the phone number for this attorney was different to the one given. 

These phishing emails can have data security implications for both those that are uneducated and the firms the cybercriminals are impersonating as it could lead to a lack of trust. However, one of the best, and only ways to confirm the legitimacy is to do rigorous research, and that is what we did. 

Myself and one of the engineers at Cerberus Sentinel did some forensics on one of the emails and attached PDF to see what it intended to do. We took the email and put it into a safeguarded standalone sandbox where it redirected us to seven know malicious sites that would have uploaded into my browser via the PDF. Along with that, it also contained Ryuk-type program that would run as soon as I clicked the file, opening adobe on my system. 

The results were astonishing. Not only was it redirecting to the malicious sites, but it also started giving out data to bad IPs. After only in a few minutes of this test, the sandbox was compromised through several file directories and connections with these bad IPs. Within a commercial network, this scam would have compromised both the device the email was received on and the network itself. 

Worryingly, we are seeing such scams becoming more expertly targeted to individuals meaning they are more likely to open the emails, and without the necessary security awareness training, they are none the wiser. Yet, the increase in sophistication of phishing and BEC scams highlights the need for increase email security systems and training to bypass human vulnerability. 

Cerberus Sentinel announces acquisition of Clear Skies Security

U.S. cybersecurity services firm adds experienced penetration testing team

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Sept. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Cerberus Cyber Sentinel Corporation (OTC: CISO), a cybersecurity consulting and managed services firm based in Scottsdale, Ariz., has acquired Clear Skies Security, LLC (“Clear Skies”), an Atlanta-based cybersecurity assessment firm.

Under the terms of the agreement, Clear Skies will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Cerberus Sentinel and will continue to focus on providing security assessments and penetration testing services to a diverse set of U.S. customers. With the new organizational structure, Brad MacKenzie, president, Clear Skies, will take on the role of managing director for Cerberus Sentinel.

“Organizations have a wide range of diverse challenges and requirements for information security. Clear Skies Security has always delivered high quality technical security assessments, and we are proud to join the Cerberus Sentinel team,” said MacKenzie. “Being part of this elite team of security practitioners, delivering high quality services over the entire security spectrum, fits perfectly with our mission of being a trusted security advisor.”

“Clear Skies adds substantial experience to our security assessment capabilities,” said David Jemmett, CEO and founder of Cerberus Sentinel. “Clear Skies serves as trusted security advisors and has a depth of talent proven to evolve with changing technologies. Their customer-first culture and talented team are a valuable addition to the Cerberus Sentinel team.”

Clear Skies will continue to be based in Atlanta and will lead a growing team in the Southeastern United States. The company collaborates with clients on a continual basis to ensure ongoing security and compliance within their organizations, helping them drive security through all aspects of their business. “Clear Skies will further enable our differentiation in the marketplace and continue expanding our expertise and offerings in the cybersecurity field,” Jemmett added.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

About Cerberus Sentinel

Cerberus Sentinel is a U.S. provider of consulting and managed services, focused solely on cybersecurity. The company seeks to expand by acquiring world-class cybersecurity talent and utilizes the latest technology to create innovative solutions that protect the most demanding businesses and government organizations against continuing and emerging security threats.

Safe Harbor Statement

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Charles J. Zigmund, Vice President
Cerberus Sentinel

Cathy Morley Foster
Eskenzi PR

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