Bait Attacks: Don’t Get Lured In By These Cybercrime Strategies

bait attacksLike other criminals who scope out your vehicle or home in search of good things to steal, cybercrime strategies often involve what is known as a reconnaissance attack. If you even notice that bait attacks have occurred, you might be left wondering what the cybercriminal got out of the experience. For most victims, their data doesn’t seem to have been breached or stolen, no malware has been left behind, and even a deep dive into their history doesn’t reveal much. However, this type of attack is pre-emptive for a much more extensive phishing campaign, and the attacker is only looking to get details about the person, organization, or system to assist them in a future attack.

What to Look for in Bait Attacks

A bait attack usually comes in the form of an email, a benign-looking message that contains very little – or sometimes even no content. This is a subtle art that begins slowly and unobtrusively, so the recipient ignores the emails and does not become concerned. The initial goal is to confirm the existence of the recipient’s email. This is done just by sending the email and waiting to see what happens. Either the cybercriminal will get an “undeliverable” notice in response, or the individual will actually reply to the message. This helps them to know how to proceed. In this case, employee education can be essential, as not responding to suspicious emails should always be company protocol.

While the criminal would still verify the validity of the email address simply by not getting the undeliverable notice from their email client, they would not get an actual response from one of your team members to allow them to move their plans forward at a much faster rate. This type of reconnaissance attack will typically make its way through most security programs without setting off any alarms. As the message itself typically contains little to no text, features no malicious links or file attachments, and is not an actual attack on its own, there is no reason to red flag it. The attacker will also usually use a legitimate email account program, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo. They do not send out a huge volume of emails, just a few feelers to avoid being detected.

Popular Cybercrime Strategies

Compared to other types of phishing campaign attacks, bait attacks are still relatively low on the list as far as popularity goes. One study revealed that approximately 35 percent of more than 10,000 organizations surveyed had received at least one bait attack during the third quarter of 2021. However, in spite of their low numbers, bait attacks can be more successful than other types of attacks, as their messages seem to be harmless and do not tend to raise any concerns. A security company identified one bait message in particular that simply said “hi” in the subject line and didn’t have any text or images in the body portion of the email. The security agent replied with, “Hi, how may I help you?” and within 48 hours, a phishing attack was launched.

The goal of these bait attacks is to first confirm the existence of the email account, determine if anyone is receiving the emails, and obtain any details or information that could be used for a future phishing campaign. The good news is that there are things you can do to prevent bait attacks and other types of similar cybercrime strategies from happening. It is possible to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) programs to detect and eliminate them from your system through security analytics and enhancement. Employee education and training is the best line of defense, especially if you instruct your team to report any potential activity that they see. Also, don’t allow these bait emails to sit in the inbox – make sure they are removed immediately before anyone accidentally replies to them.

Contact Synivate in the Greater Boston Area

It is more important than ever before to make sure that you enact the programs, security services, and support necessary to protect your business from cybercrime strategies. While bait attacks and other reconnaissance attack events don’t seem to be that dangerous compared to a ransomware or phishing campaign, they certainly lay the groundwork necessary for a more significant attack to occur. Contact Synivate directly by calling 617-848-1248 to speak with one of our team members about the comprehensive array of services and custom options available that you can use to protect your Greater Boston business from cybercrime attacks, data loss, and other potentially damaging incidents.