There is one thing we all learned from 2018, and it’s that cyber threats aren’t slowing down anytime soon! It is clear that a critical part of all MSP’s plans for 2019 is to not only protect customers from today’s threats, but to educate them on how they can avoid them and defend themselves in the first place.

In order to protect your customers, it’s important for you to stay up-to-date on the latest threats as they’re presenting themselves. Let’s take a quick look back at some of the different threats that emerged in 2018, as featured in Barracuda’s Threat Spotlight series.

Memorable cyber threats to bear in mind in 2019

Every attack teaches us a lesson, and it’s important to carry those with us to help mitigate risk against future attacks. Here are some threats you’ll want to remember when thinking about how to best protect your customers.

  1. Cybercriminals are impersonating Google Docs, Outlook, and DocuSign to steal your credentials

In 2018, one of the first—and most rapidly growing—types of attacks was impersonation scams. Delivered through email, these scams bypass traditional email security filters, and make their way into users’ inboxes. What makes this threat unique is that it uses zero-day email links, meaning they have not been used before in other emails. Once the user clicks on the link, they are prompted to enter their credentials for Outlook, DocuSign, and Google Docs, thus surrendering their credentials. Learn how you can help your customers avoid these types of attacks.

  1. Attached password stealer

Stealing users’ credentials continued to be a focal point in 2018 — and we will likely see more attempts this year and beyond. In this attempt, cybercriminals tried to steal user credentials by using common file types – like a Word doc or an Excel file – to trick users into opening malicious documents. By using such common file attachment types, unsuspecting users are less likely to suspect anything malicious. Discover how password theft has evolved.

  1. Caught in the wild — millions of phishing attempts each month try to hook your users

In the month of May, Barracuda blocked over 1.5 million phishing attempts — and over 10,000 of those emails were unique email attempts. Even though they are all classified as phishing attempts, each one had its own unique spin – from money scams, malware distribution, disguised links, and more. To see the difference between these attempts, view the examples here.

  1. Barracuda study finds account takeover incidents widespread, most commonly used for phishing campaigns

In 2018, we saw a tremendous uptick in Account Takeover Attacks. This is when attackers attempt to steal user credentials in order to launch targeted attacks from a legitimate but compromised account. The objective of account takeovers can vary from attacker to attacker, but once inside, they are able to launch a Business Email Compromise (BEC) attack from the real individual’s email address. Teach your customers how to avoid this attack.

  1. Barracuda study of 3,000 attacks reveals BEC targets different departments

To better understand what cyber criminals are trying to accomplish with account takeovers, Barracuda looked at 3,000 BEC attacks and how they targeted specific users. When the accounts were examined, it was found that 43 percent of the impersonated attacks were from the CEO — and the majority the emails asked for a wire transfer (46.9 percent) or to click a malicious link (40.1 percent). Read the article to discover how you can protect your customers.

  1. Ongoing “sextortion” scam utilizes breach data

This devious attack puts unsuspecting users on notice. By using the user’s stolen password in the subject line in the email, this attack warns users that the cybercriminal isn’t playing around. The email requests Bitcoin in exchange for not releasing an incriminating video to all the user’s contacts. While the attacker doesn’t actually have an incriminating video to be shared, the tactics of revealing user’s credentials can certainly scare the user into sending the demanded Bitcoin. See the incriminating email.

  1. New spear phishing attack gift card scam

One of the last major threats we saw in 2018 was a targeted spear phishing attempt to get victims to send gift cards to the cyber attacker. Around the holiday season, there tends to be an uptick in gift card buying from the CEOs – and often the office manager, executive assistant, or receptionist is the one that buys them. Knowing this, cyber criminals crafted this attack to highly target these individuals and impersonate the CEO. By implying the urgency and secrecy of this assignment, many of these attacks have worked. Share the article with your customers to help them avoid this scam.

Security lessons learned

Cybercriminals are not slowing down — and neither should your approach to education. While it is important to equip your customers with technology to help them safeguard their business against today’s sophisticated threats, it is even more important to educate their employees. After all, an organization’s defense can only be as strong as its weakest link.

Photo:  wk1003mike / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a content and product marketer with several years of experience in the IT channel. She has created and developed content that helps managed service providers grow their business, and has written many articles featured in SmarterMSP’s The MSP’s Bookshelf and Ask an MSP Expert series.

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