Your organization most likely has a standard email filter setup to catch commonly known phishing keywords. As of last year, some of the most common words to trigger spam filters were COVID, pandemic, and Corona Virus. But just like technology, cyber attacks are always evolving. Criminals have now found a way to outsmart email security filters by using synonyms.

Most organizations have security filters setup to scan incoming emails for keywords. When certain keywords accompany other suspicious elements, the email will be filtered into your Spam or Trash folder. By swapping out common trigger words, phishing scams can bypass your email filter. For example, a common red flag that can trigger spam filters is a plain and simple dollar sign ($). Instead of saying, “$500”, a cyber criminal can simply replace the number and symbol with written out words, “five hundred dollars”. Another example is replacing the word “invoice” with “Remittance Advice”.

Cyber Defense Line Up

As cyber criminals continue to create new methods of compromise, it is important to continually educate and remind your staff of new threats as well as protecting your technology with extra layers of cyber defense.

First Line of Defense: If phishing emails surpass your email filter, your first line of defense is always your employees. By providing regular and unique cyber awareness training (preferably twice a year), your staff will always be precautionary when opening all emails. It is most helpful to educate them on new scams (such as this one) and provide reminders of correct actions to take to prevent a successful attack.

Second Line of Defense: Unfortunately, human error does occur. We are all busy and sometimes there’s an accidental click that could lead to compromise. Fortunately, a second line of defense can catch a slip up and prevent further escalation of compromise. An Advanced Threat Detection (ATD) tool will can help your organization deal with advanced attacks that traditional antivirus will not detect until it’s too late. For companies who don’t have the time or resources to devote to 24/7 internal monitoring, ATD is a managed tool that will allow a SOC to monitor your network 24/7 to increase your chances of early detection and decrease your cyber risk.

When that sneaky email scam slips through, your layered cyber defenses will help protect your organization from further damage.