How Does Breach and Attack Simulation Help in Detecting Phishing Scams Early?

While companies are out there worrying about sophisticated cybercrime, hackers are writing spoofed emails to send to unsuspecting employees. If you look closely at some of the latest cyber breaches, you’ll find they have one thing in common — most of them have been the result of a successful phishing scam. Think Coinbase, Reddit, and Highmark Health.

How Does Breach and Attack Simulation Help in Detecting Phishing Scams Early?

Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to worry about advanced threats, but there is an obvious strategy when it comes to phishing.

Modern infrastructures should be protected from both scams and more technical hacking methods — especially since phishing scams are often a gateway to more sophisticated cybercriminal techniques.

How can Breach and Attack Simulation help organizations uncover phishing schemes early, all the while guiding security analysts toward gaps in the security that allow them in the first place?

BAS Runs in the Background at All Times

Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) is essentially a security solution that tests protective tools (such as a firewall) against versatile cyber attacks. It imitates hacking methods to conclude if a criminal could compromise a specific network.

In case the simulated attack is successful, teams know that a hacker could use the same flaw to breach the system. Discovering the vulnerability before criminals do buys the team time to patch up any weaknesses.

The goal of BAS is to find vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to compromise the system. This data is important for security teams because it guides them, telling them how they can improve the security of a company.

One of the key advantages of the BAS tool is that it’s on the job at all times. The attack surface is changing all the time meaning that weaknesses can appear at any minute. That’s why BAS tests security non-stop in real-time.

Another is that it covers the complete attack surface (any software that can be the target) — from the employees’ home devices to the laptops used for work on the company’s premises.

For example, the second Last Pass data breach was possible because a remote employee (engineer) didn’t update their Plex software on their home computer. The same update was released three years prior to the attack.

This flaw enabled the threat actor to gain illicit access and use the employee’s deep access to obtain sensitive data — and as such, conduct a second attack on the Last Pass.

The BAS tool can be set up to test against both phishing and a variety of cyber threats that could exploit vulnerabilities that are waiting to turn into incidents.

Measuring and Classifying the Risk

You’ve probably heard the saying “What gets measured gets done”. In cybersecurity, data is everything. The problem is that teams get too much information which they have to analyze and apply to improve security.

Continual and automated Breach and Attack Simulation presents the findings on the dashboard, ranking the risk from the critical to those that do not pose an immediate threat.

The report is easy to read for team members of different skill levels.

How does that work?

For instance, this could mean simulating attacks such as shooting thousands of spoofed emails (containing malicious attachments and links) straight to the inboxes.

Besides the email gateway, Breach and Attack Simulation also challenges:

Following the simulated and automated attacks that occur 27/4, the intensity of the risk is measured and presented on a dashboard.

This means that professionals get a holistic image of the state of security at all times.

Identifying New Scams and Cyber Attacks

To identify the signs of novel hacking techniques, Breach and Attack Simulation is linked to the MITRE ATT&CK Framework. This resource is frequently updated to depict the new tactics that hackers have used to compromise the systems of other organizations.

For instance, this knowledge base depicts versatile phishing kinds that targeted other businesses in the past. One of the hacking tactics that are depicted in the MITRE is spear phishing.

What makes it especially dangerous is that it’s notoriously difficult to detect spear phishing emails. A bad actor takes their time to get to know the person they’re sending a message to. When they get in touch, they can impersonate a person’s boss or a work colleague.

MITRE depicts other sophisticated techniques that hackers tend to pair with spear phishing, elaborates on the procedure, and offers suggestions on how to identify and mitigate such threats.

This means that the BAS tool also has data that accurately tests the system based on the information that has been gathered following the real-life attack.

Recipe For Phishing-Free Inboxes

Most phishing happens via email. Addresses are relatively easy to obtain and a hacker can send many emails at once, waiting for the unsuspecting victim to click on a link or send them their credentials.

A well-crafted phishing email that impersonates an authority figure or organization can bypass spam filters that are meant to detect and block spoofed emails.

The thought that the solutions security teams use are not reliable can negatively affect their morale, and consequently lose trust in the tools and feel confident in their work.

Breach and Attack Simulation brings back confidence in the tools teams use for security. They know the solutions at hand are tested, truly work, and can be trusted. They have the data to back that up.

BAS tests security against phishing campaigns as well as new or more technical attacks that could compromise the system of a company.

Paired with phishing awareness training for the general workforce, layered security that is continually improved based on the latest assessment of the BAS tool is the type of testing that is the backbone keeping the security posture strong. It’s AI done right.

Check the comment section below for additional information, share what you know, or ask a question about this article by leaving a comment below. And, to quickly find answers to your questions, use our search Search engine.

Note: Some of the information in samples on this website may have been impersonated or spoofed.

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Online Threat Alerts Security Tips

Pay the safest way

Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly.

Guard your personal information

In any transaction you conduct, make sure to check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the seller, charity, company, or organization is credible. Be especially wary if the entity is unfamiliar to you. Always call the number found on a website’s contact information to make sure the number legitimately belongs to the entity you are dealing with.

Be careful of the information you share

Never give out your codes, passwords or personal information, unless you are sure of who you're dealing with

Know who you’re dealing with

Crooks pretending to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something and know who you are sending payment to. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

Check your accounts

Regularly check your account transactions and report any suspicious or unauthorised transactions.

Don’t believe promises of easy money

If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. Oftentimes, offers that seem too good to be true, actually are too good to be true.

Do not open email from people you don’t know

If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.

Think before you click

If an email or text message looks suspicious, don’t open any attachments or click on the links.

Verify urgent requests or unsolicited emails, messages or phone calls before you respond

If you receive a message or a phone call asking for immediate action and don't know the sender, it could be a phishing message.

Be careful with links and new website addresses

Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.

Secure your personal information

Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.

Stay informed on the latest cyber threats

Keep yourself up to date on current scams by visiting this website daily.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are critical to online security.

Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs

Keep all of your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.

Update the operating systems on your electronic devices

Make sure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all of your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks. Read the CISA security tip on Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.

What if You Got Scammed?

Stop Contact With The Scammer

Hang up the phone. Do not reply to emails, messages, or letters that the scammer sends. Do not make any more payments to the scammer. Beware of additional scammers who may contact you claiming they can help you get your lost money back.

Secure Your Finances

  • Report potentially compromised bank account, credit or debit card information to your financial institution(s) immediately. They may be able to cancel or reverse fraudulent transactions.
  • Notify the three major credit bureaus. They can add a fraud alert to warn potential credit grantors that you may be a victim of identity theft. You may also want to consider placing a free security freeze on your credit report. Doing so prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit:

Check Your Computer

If your computer was accessed or otherwise affected by a scam, check to make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and running and that your system is free of malware and keylogging software. You may also need to seek the help of a computer repair company. Consider utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s website to find a reputable company.

Change Your Account Passwords

Update your bank, credit card, social media, and email account passwords to try to limit further unauthorized access. Make sure to choose strong passwords when changing account passwords.

Report The Scam

Reporting helps protect others. While agencies can’t always track down perpetrators of crimes against scammers, they can utilize the information gathered to record patterns of abuse which may lead to action being taken against a company or industry.

Report your issue to the following agencies based on the nature of the scam:

  • Local Law Enforcement: Consumers are encouraged to report scams to their local police department or sheriff’s office, especially if you lost money or property or had your identity compromised.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the Online Complaint Assistant to report various types of fraud, including counterfeit checks, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and more.
  • If someone is using your personal information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, report it at This federal government site will also help you create your Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation. Questions can be directed to 877-ID THEFT.

How To Recognize a Phishing Scam

Scammers use email or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could get access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.

Scammers often update their tactics to keep up with the latest news or trends, but here are some common tactics used in phishing emails or text messages:

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card or utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
  • say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
  • include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
  • offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real

About Online Threat Alerts (OTA)

Online Threat Alerts or OTA is an anti-cybercrime community that started in 2012. OTA alerts the public to cyber crimes and other web threats.

By alerting the public, we have prevented a lot of online users from getting scammed or becoming victims of cybercrimes.

With the ever-increasing number of people going online, it important to have a community like OTA that continuously alerts or protects those same people from cyber-criminals, scammers and hackers, who are every day finding new ways of carrying out their malicious activities.

Online users can help by reporting suspicious or malicious messages or websites to OTA. And, if they want to determine if a message or website is a threat or scam, they can use OTA's search engine to search for the website or parts of the message for information.

Help maintain Online Threat Alerts (OTA).

How Does Breach and Attack Simulation Help in Detecting Phishing Scams Early?