Social Engineering Penetration Tests: Protection Against Phishing Attacks


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Phishing emails are one of the most common ways for hackers to lure into a malicious activity. Although most of us are aware of the motives behind these emails, designing such attacks is a completely different thing. Testers are supposed to replicate and simulate phishing attacks for an organization during penetration testing services. This simulation of phishing campaigns is designed to give a snapshot of how vulnerable their organization is to such attacks. They also train their employees about ways to recognize and refrain from falling for these phishing attacks. These campaigns define how an organization will respond to phishing emails and stay safe from any data breach. Thus, it is important for pen-testers to carefully define their phishing emails, and the best option they can utilize is by deploying a social engineering campaign.

Pen-Testers Think Like A Threat Attacker

A pen-tester needs to think like a threat actor so that he can simulate a phishing attack. This type of attack can be used for two purposes. Firstly, testers would be making an attempt to get malicious code past the set parameters. When a target clicks an email and tries to open an attachment, it releases malware into the organization’s system. This malware aims to work as a backdoor for threat actors that can use to access their network.

Phishing emails are used to gather credentials from users, which can be used for attacks in the future. Attackers can also achieve this by redirecting a user to a website that is designed to replicate a site that requires login credentials. During penetration testing services, pen testers design a phishing email to fit an attacker’s desired results. If their main aim is to release a malicious attack, they might need to convince a user to click on a link to an interesting article/blog. On the contrary, if a login is required, testers would need an email that replicates a service that they use.

Using the Most Popular Phish

Phishing emails are so common that you might even find one in your own inbox to use in your next campaign. It is important for pen-testers to ensure that they use only a simulation of these real phishing emails. This way, QA testers can ensure that they can protect their systems from malicious attacks. In addition, pen-testers need to spend more time to study active campaigns using sources to watch out for the latest attacks that are being used around the web. They can also get inspiration from news stories about phishing attacks that are trending currently. This will not only help in providing valuable data, but users that were vulnerable to the pen testers during the campaign will remain alert. If there is a real attack, users will think before clicking, thus protecting their business from these attacks.

Create Customized Phishing Emails

Threat actors ensure that their phishing emails are more direct and specific, and the chances of opening these emails grow higher. Pen testers can conduct their research using open-source resources like social media. This research is necessary before releasing a phishing campaign. They should personalize phish in such a manner that includes names, addresses, locations, etc. When a phish is more direct, users take less time to scrutinize.

Use A Variety of Phishing Attacks

When performing a social engineering penetration test, testers should simulate a real-world situation. This includes all levels of phish including obvious phish, well-constructed phish, and highly custom phish. These phishes should also have a variety of content. Some emails attempt to draw users towards a malicious site, and some are intended to open a link. This will allow pen-testers to provide organizations with the best data to see how susceptible their employees and how they can remain safe and protected from such attacks.

Using Different Phishing Attacks

During penetration testing services, pen testers should take their time to explore latest techniques and use their creativity to spot different methods. They should use testing tools that help in making the most of these pen tests. The post-campaign analysis includes click rates, login numbers, and flagging instances that show what a business needs to do to improve their security stature.

Although some organizations focus on email-based pen testing, they also use phishing in other forms of communication. They can use voice phishing to acquire important credentials. They may also use text messages to gain information. These can be extremely dangerous if a device is connected to an organization’s network. So these social engineering pen tests can come in really handy and improve security of a business.


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