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Studies are showing that cyber criminals aren’t too worried about software vulnerabilities any more, they’re targeting users instead.

It would seem that users are kind of… slow in the area of computer security actually (yes, I know, stand back aghast) especially executives.

Instead of phishing users are being ‘Whaled’. Whalers are targeting the higher power, richer executives (so when I get phished I’m actually being guppied? ).

While being ‘whaled’ the high powered end users are often asked for personnel information, account usernames, password and information or being tricked into downloading malware to their computer to open a hole for the criminal to use and abuse.
Whalers are looking for bigger information than just a username, password or social security number, they’re looking for company information, financial transactions, employee personal information,

There is a new term for phishing too – spear phishing. Spear phishing is a targeted kind of phishing (or whaling, depending on who you’re targeting) wherein said criminal has done some research beforehand including information about staff or the company to make bait seem more real.

What is stunning is that spear fishing is remarkably effective with up to an 80% success rate.

As well as users just giving information away when they take the phishing bait it would seem that someone isn’t just leaving the cookie jar open but they’re putting out a welcome mat too.
The instances of client side attacks have increased dramatically too. Users visit compromising web sites, not installing critical updates, disabling firewalls, email attachments and more.

What can we do about this?
Well, education is key. Users on all levels need to be educated, on all levels, executive or not.
Update – Microsoft issues critical updates for a reason and they don’t call them critical because they like to (mostly).
Lock down – much as they hate it, there is a time and a place to lock down end user computers. Stop them visiting malicious web sites, downloading attachments, installing software and disabling firewalls.

What do you think?