Mitigating Sophisticated, MFA-Resistant Phishing Scams
Phishing attacks are becoming more complex—and successful—making them more problematic for companies to combat. As a prime example, a recent phishing scam has been circumventing multifactor authentication (MFA) to successfully breach multiple companies. The attacks, which seem to be targeting banks and credit unions, are a stark reminder of the constant cyber threats that financial institutions face and the importance of following effective risk mitigation tactics.
The recent email scam is a sophisticated scheme; it exploits weaknesses in MFA and essentially bypasses them to launch an attack. The attackers deploy deceptive emails to obtain employees’ Microsoft 365 (M365) usernames, passwords, and MFA codes, and then they use this information to try to wire money outside the institution. Not only are these assaults breaching the initial targets, but they are also using the victims to infiltrate other companies.
The phishing scheme can be particularly detrimental to institutions that are not employing Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Conditional Access Policies to bolster their security in Azure. Since Azure AD manages login credentials for users allowing them to access multiple M365 services and internal accounts from anywhere online, it is critical to apply access controls that provide another layer of protection beyond MFA.
Addressing Phishing Threats
There are various steps banks and credit unions can take to address MFA-resistant phishing attacks. Since humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity, institutions should ensure their employees are immediately informed about this particular phishing attack. They should also train employees regularly to recognize phishing emails so they can avoid being deceived. The key: Make sure employees know not to input their username and password in any link they receive by email.
Although this specific threat has the potential to exploit weaknesses in MFA, financial institutions should still implement this authentication method as it remains one of the most effective at blocking account compromises. As previously mentioned, it is also important to increase protection against attacks by adding Azure Conditional Access Policies to the Azure environment. Another preemptive step is to employ a monitoring and reporting solution for the Azure tenant. Often once a system is breached, attackers go into the tenant and create new rules to cover their tracks. Visibility into security settings through proactive reporting and alerts can make it easier for institutions to detect any suspicious activity or changes with logins and email rules, helping them stay on top of potential threats.
How Safe Systems Can Help
It can be challenging for many institutions to effectively manage their access and security settings in Azure AD and M365. However, Safe Systems offers CloudInsight™ M365 Security Basics to make the task easier. The CloudInsight™ collection of products offers a variety of reports and alerts that are specially designed to help institutions enhance their awareness of the Cloud. M365 Security Basics provides visibility into security settings for Azure AD and M365 tenants to help institutions detect targeted phishing or SPAM attacks. It can also expose other common risks like compromised user accounts, unknown users and forwarders; unapproved email access; and the unknown use of sharing tools. With M365 Security Basics, community banks, and credit unions can receive the expert insights they need to minimize, limit, or stop sophisticated phishing attacks.