Longlining: the new phishing attack targeting businesses
Posted on 8 Jul 2013 at 10:00
Davey Winder reveals the latest style of phishing attack, "longlining"
Targeted spear-phishing and traditional mail-bombing attacks are merging to create yet another new genre in the email scam game – longlining.
This name isn’t simply another fishing pun, but rather a literal description of how this technique works.
Longline fishing is a commercial practice that employs a single line several miles long, baited with thousands of individual hooks. Longline phishing gets around traditional security systems by a process of "mass customisation", employing a rapid bombardment of thousands of uniquely targeted messages.
Find out moreProtecting your business from phishing attacks
Many security gateway filters will be looking for identical or similar messages from a single source, so they won’t detect a longline attack, the messages of which have widely differing subject lines, content and, most importantly, originating IP addresses.
This multiple-hook analogy applies to the body content of the messages themselves, which will contain multiple variations of the embedded malware target URL, the ultimate destination of which will almost always be a trusted site that’s been compromised in some way (which helps evade reputational filtering on the URL).
Think of longlining as a parallel phishing delivery system and you’re in the right ballpark.
Armed with the capability to send hundreds of thousands of these malicious URL hooks in a matter of hours, plus the ability to bypass many corporate gateway filtering systems, the bad guys increase their chance of exploiting a zero-day vulnerability before the IT department has been able to patch it.
I’ve heard longlining described as "combining the effectiveness of spear-phishing with the speed and scale of a virus attack" – and that scares me, even if it doesn’t scare you.
It would certainly encourage me to make sure my IT security education programme was up to date.
Did you mean "longlining".
That's the term used in this article by Proofpoint.
By simnfs on 9 Jul 2013
Typo in the headline?
By Pantagoon on 9 Jul 2013
Davey is a contributing editor to PC Pro, having covered the internet as a topic since the magazine started in 1994. Since that time he's won numerous awards for his journalism, but remains a small-business consultant specialising in privacy, security and usability issues.
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Meet the robots helping teach children
- PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?
- Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?
- Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out
- Will the next Windows 8.1 update arrive next month?
- BT One Phone lets SMBs ditch landlines for mobiles
- Microsoft shows Modern apps running in desktop windows
- Apple and IBM buddy up for enterprise push
- Windows Phone 8.1 starts rolling out to Nokia phones
- Government broadband plans "lack ambition"
- SMBs get Office 365 price cuts, new plans
- Windows 7: you can keep it until 2020
- BlackBerry Passport's square for spreadsheets
- Microsoft to release six updates this Patch Tuesday