Phishing seems like an old threat, but attackers are leveraging increasingly sophisticated techniques leaving many security teams overwhelmed. With phishing attacks rising sharply in recent years, it‘s clear traditional defenses are no longer sufficient. The good news is proxies can provide a layer of protection to safely uncover and defend against phishing threats.
In this guide, we’ll first understand the scale of the phishing problem. Next, we’ll see how proxies can help security analysts like ourselves take a proactive stance. We’ll also discuss tips for choosing the right proxy provider and integrating proxies into your security workflows.
Arm yourself with the latest proxy techniques to outsmart persistent phishing scams!
Phishing Attacks Are Rising Exponentially
You’ve surely received dubious emails pretending to be from trusted sources. While we often dismiss phishing attacks as harmless nuisances, the numbers reveal an alarming trend.
Between 2017 to 2022, phishing attacks have increased by a staggering 650% according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. Other key statistics:
- Phishing made up 36% of cyber attacks in 2022, up from just 3% in 2015.
- 80% of organizations experienced phishing attacks last year.
- 93% of phishing attacks target user credentials versus just 3% targeting payment information.
Phishing attack trends over the past 5 years highlight the exponential growth of this threat.
This exponential rise proves phishing is not just noise for security teams to filter out. The threat is real, sophisticated and needs dedicated defenses.
The Rising Sophistication of Phishing Tactics
It’s no longer just simple spam emails from Nigerian princes. Attackers are refining their techniques using:
Evasive redirects: Links lead users through a maze of redirects across legitimate sites to eventually land on a phishing site. This bypasses link inspection by email security tools.
Phishing kits: Anyone can download phishing kits through the dark web to create sophisticated scam sites imitating banks, webmail providers etc. Social engineering is shockingly easy!
Spear phishing: 91% of cyber attacks start with a phishing email. But generic blasts are giving way to highly customized spear phishing targeting specific individuals in an organization. Social media makes it easy for attackers to gather intel and craft context-aware phishing lures.
Zero-day exploits: Phishing links are increasingly delivering zero-day malware exploiting unpublished vulnerabilities before patches are available. Reaction time is now compressed from months to hours.
As phishers rapidly level up their game, organizations are struggling to keep pace. The result? The average total cost of a data breach has risen from $3.54 million in 2006 to $4.35 million in 2021, a 23% increase.
Staying ahead of the phishing threat requires security teams to become proactive. This is where proxies come in.
Unmask Phishing Scams Safely with Proxies
Proxies allow analysts to access and analyze phishing sites from anywhere in the world safely while keeping their tools and infrastructure hidden. Here are some of the ways we use proxies for phishing investigations:
Observe phishing sites remotely: Using proxies in the US, UK, Europe and Asia, we can remotely analyze newly reported phishing pages to quickly determine what information they are harvesting. Proxies provide that layer of protection.
Gather intelligence at scale: There‘s an explosion of new phishing sites and we leverage proxies to scrape hundreds of scam pages to uncover infrastructure patterns, copy variations and other intelligence.
Unmask redirects: By routing traffic through proxies, we can follow redirect chains from phishing emails to eventually unmask the landing scam site which is often hidden behind 20+ hops!
Evade blocks: Phishing sites try to block our tools by fingerprinting IP addresses. Proxies allow us to rotate IPs and appear from new locations to evade blocks.
Reduce response time: With proxies, we can start investigating and scraping a reported phishing site within minutes before it is taken down. Quicker response equals less victims.
Proxies are the key to scalable phishing intelligence and the agility needed to respond in hours or less. Next we‘ll discuss tips on how to choose the right proxies.
Choosing the Right Proxies for Phishing Defenses
Phishing investigations require specialized proxies to uncover scams safely and at scale:
Use datacenter proxies: Residential proxies are slower and unstable. For time-sensitive phishing analysis, we recommend using dedicated datacenter proxies which offer reliable 1Gbps+ speeds.
Globally diverse IPs: Choose proxy providers with broad geographic diversity allowing access through different countries needed to analyze region-specific phishing.
High uptime is critical: Look for datacenter proxies with 99.9%+ uptime backed by SLA. Anything less results in interruptions during time-sensitive probes.
Scrape responsibly: Opt for law-abiding providers that allow scraping only public data. As analysts, we have an ethical duty here.
Scale on demand: Proxies that easily support additions of more IPs, locations and bandwidth are essential to grow phishing investigation capabilities quickly.
Whitelist-capable: The option to configure IP whitelists ensures only your tools route through the proxies preventing misuse.
Some leading datacenter proxy services our team relies on are BrightData, Oxylabs, Smartproxy and Microleaves. But perform your own evaluation before deciding.
Integrating Proxies into Phishing Investigations
While proxies offer powerful capabilities, integrating them into your workflows is key. Here are some ways to leverage proxies for phishing investigations and takedowns:
Augment threat intel platforms: Routinely scrape reported phishing sites through proxies to extract URLs, registrar details, content etc. and feed data into your TIPs.
Equip SOC analysts: Browser isolation through proxies allows analysts to safely access phishing sites for swift response. No need to wait for blocked URLs.
Harden simulated phishing: Running simulated phishing campaigns through proxies provides real-world conditions to accurately test defenses.
Research infrastructure: Uncover shared hosting, name servers and other patterns linking phishing sites by scraping through proxies at scale. Disrupt infrastructure.
Automate where possible: Automate the proxy rotation, web scraping, data extraction process for efficiency and scale. Python works well.
Example workflow integrating proxies for scalable phishing investigation and intelligence
Adopt Proactive Defenses
With phishing showing no signs of slowing down, organizations must fight back proactively. Integrating proxies into phishing investigations is an impactful starting point.
But proxies alone are not enough. Adopt a multi-layered defense combining awareness training, strong authentication, tighter technical controls and automation. If you need help getting started, reach out to us. Don‘t wait for the next breach to act!
What proactive phishing measures are you putting in place? Let me know, I‘m happy to help!