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10 Key Facts about Callback Phishing Attacks

Last updated: 11 May 2023

Amidst the rapid rise of cybercrime targeting organizations, guaranteeing your business’s online security is more important than ever. Protecting your business from harmful online attacks is a big responsibility. While many businesses know the risk of phishing attacks, one specific phishing attack that is becoming increasingly common is callback phishing. This blog lists ten key facts about callback phishing attacks that every business should know.

What is a Callback Phishing Attack?

Callback phishing attacks are cyberattacks in which an attacker tricks a victim into calling a phone number that belongs to the attacker. Impersonating a trusted organization, the attacker can call and coax you into revealing confidential data such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, or personal details. 

How Callback Phishing Works

With the rise of advanced cyberattacks, it’s important to stay vigilant when clicking links in emails or messages. Callback phishing attacks often start with a phishing email or text message. One common red flag is a link to a fake website that appears legitimate but is designed to steal sensitive information, like login details. These phishing attempts often impersonate well-known companies or institutions, using urgency or fear to prompt you into taking action.

Once the victim enters their information, the attacker can access the victim’s accounts or steal money. Attackers then call the target, pretending to be from an organization they have pretended to be affiliated with, and request further information or access authorization for their computer.

10 Key Facts about Callback Phishing Attacks

  1. In Q1 2021, callback phishing attacks increased by a staggering 625%. 
  2. Common indicators of a callback phishing attack include unsolicited voicemail messages or phone calls, requests for sensitive information, and suspicious email or text messages. 
  3. Callback phishing messages are designed to avoid email protection solutions. Related messaging just contains phone numbers to “callback” as opposed to malicious URLs or attachments. 
  4. Callback phishers will resell your credentials or remote access to ransomware gangs almost immediately after they get them. 
  5. Attackers will use sophisticated tools that link your phone to information they have socially engineered so they can provide you with information you expect only your trusted vendors to have when you call back. 
  6. Employee training and education are essential for preventing callback phishing attacks, as employees are strike often the first line of defense. 
  7. In the event of a callback phishing attack, businesses should have a response plan in place that includes disconnecting the affected device from the network and reporting the suspected attack to their IT team or provider. 
  8. To guard your system against callback phishing, implement multifactor authentication on all your systems, and don’t use two-factor authentication that emails codes. If an email is compromised, the codes sent to it are sent to the attacker. 
  9. Establishing communication policies can also help prevent employees from inadvertently giving away sensitive information. 
  10. Tell the suspected phisher you will call them back and do that using a known support number not one they provide. If they evade callbacks, it’s likely a scam. 

Types of Callback Phishing Attacks

Callback phishing attacks include voicemail attacks, one-ring phone scams, and callback spam. Voicemail phishing attacks involve leaving a voicemail that prompts the victim to call back and provide sensitive information. One-ring phone scams involve calling the victim’s phone and hanging up after one ring, hoping that the victim will call back out of curiosity. Callback spam involves sending unsolicited text messages or emails that prompt the victim to call a phone number.

How Callback Phishing Attacks Work

In a typical callback phishing attack, the attacker will create a fake phone number or use a legitimate phone number to which they have gained access. They will then use social engineering tactics to trick the victim into calling the phone number. Once the victim calls the number, they will be prompted to gain remote access to their computer or their corporate accounts. They may also ask for personal identifying information like your SSN, DOB, maiden name, etc.

How to Identify a Callback Phishing Attack

Businesses should be aware of the signs of a callback phishing attack. Phishers will use information about your company or a leader of your company to persuade more information from you that they can use with other staff members. Exercise caution if you ever receive a dubious voicemail or phone call asking for confidential information such as passwords or credit card numbers, email, or text messages. To protect critical data from falling into the wrong hands, verify any request that seems too good to be true before taking action.

The Impact of Callback Phishing Attacks on Businesses

Callback phishing attacks can have a significant impact on businesses. If unauthorized individuals access valuable information like login details or credit card data, it can result in devastating financial losses. Reputational damage can also occur if customers or partners lose trust in the business due to a security breach. Furthermore, businesses may face hefty legal and regulatory penalties if they fail to adhere to data protection regulations.

Prevention Strategies for Businesses

Businesses can implement several prevention strategies to protect themselves from callback phishing attacks. Employee training and education are essential, as employees are often the first defense against these attacks. You can use security measures like multifactor authentication, firewalls, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) software to safeguard your data and systems. These three methods are highly effective in preventing malicious attacks. Establishing communication policies can also help prevent employees from inadvertently giving away sensitive information.

Response Plan for Businesses

In the event of a callback phishing attack, businesses must have a response plan in place. The first step is disconnecting the affected device or network from the internet to prevent further data loss. The most important step is to report a suspected phishing attack to IT Staff or Provider. In the event of a compromise, IT staff should report to senior management, insurance providers, financial institutions, and potentially the FBI. The business should also contact law enforcement and their bank or financial institution to report the attack and take steps to secure their accounts. Notifying any affected customers or partners of the security breach is also important.

The Importance of a Strong Password Policy

Businesses should have a strong password policy to prevent callback phishing attacks. Passwords should be complex and unique, and employees should be required to change them regularly. An additional layer of security can be achieved with multifactor authentication that helps protect against unauthorized access to accounts.

Callback phishing attacks are a serious threat to businesses. Knowing the fundamentals of these attacks gives businesses valuable insight into how to guard themselves and their customers and avoid any potential financial damage, negative publicity, or legal repercussions. Companies can minimize their risk of becoming a target of a callback phishing attack by implementing employee training and education, security measures, and a strong response plan. 

BlackPoint IT can help businesses protect themselves against callback phishing attacks by providing comprehensive cybersecurity solutions. Our IT experts are dedicated to creating a comprehensive security plan that will guard your data and systems and provide you with the insight necessary for responding swiftly in case of any breach. Contact us today!

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