Level 12
THE HUMAN FACTOR: Proofpoint Research Report 2016.

Today’s advanced attacks focus more on exploiting human flaws than system flaws. Proofpoint developed The Human Factor to explore this under-reported aspect of enterprise threats.

This paper presents original field research using data gathered by Proofpoint products deployed in customer settings around the world. It covers the latest trends in the top vectors for targeting people: email, social media, and mobile apps. The Human Factor reveals not just who is clicking what, but how threat actors are using social engineering to get people to perform the work of automated exploits. Because as the data make clear, the weakest link in security is all of us.

Executive Summary
Life imitated art in 2015 as real-world cyber criminals every day applied the mantra of the anti-hero hacker of the cable TV series Mr. Robot: “People make the best exploits.” Social engineering became the No. 1 attack technique. Attackers shifted away from automated exploits and instead engaged people to do the dirty work—infecting systems, stealing credentials, and transferring funds. Across all vectors and in attacks of all sizes, threat actors used social engineering to trick people into doing things that once depended on malicious code.

Attackers use people in three progressively controlling ways:

Running attackers’ code for them.
These attacks comprised mainly high-volume campaigns distributed to broad groups of users. They used a variety of ruses to evade technical detection and convinced people to disable or ignore security, click links, open documents, or download files that installed malware on laptops, tablets, and smart phones.

Handing over credentials to them.
These attacks appeared frequently in medium-volume campaigns. They targeted key people who had valued credentials, such as usernames and passwords to crucial systems or useful services, tricking them into turning over their “keys to the castle.”

Directly working for them, transferring funds to them.
These attacks were narrow and highly targeted. They aimed for users with the right job duties and ability act directly on behalf of attackers. These users, thinking they were following orders from higher-ups, most often made wire transfers to fraudulent bank accounts.

These attacks differed in scale and volume. But they all shared one common thread: using social engineering to persuade people to do the work of malware—and deliver big dividends for the attackers.

Key Findings & Defensive Recommendations
Section 1: By the Numbers;
Threat Targeting by Geographic Region
Email Threat Targeting by Day of Week
Email Threat Targeting by Hour of Day
Social Media Threat Targeting by Hour
Threat Targeting Malicious Mobile Apps
Section 2: Exploiting People;
People Running Attackers’ Code for Them
Email Threat Vector Trends: URL vs. Attachments
Threat Types: Attachment Malware Payloads
Threat Vector Tactics: Most Used Email Lures
Threat Types: Malicious Attachment Document Formats
People Handing Over Credentials to Attackers
Threat Vector Tactics: Credential Phishing
Mobile App Threats Come of Age
Phishing Dominates Social Media Attacks
People Transferring Funds Directly to Attackers
Understanding advanced threats



Level 24
Content Creator
Manipulating the user is perhaps the easiest way to create a bypass - not to mention user mistakes and security config mis-configurations.

Technically, the user is the weakest security link.
Which is why it's important for that "weak link" to be reinforced through learning basic computer/online security and reading security blogs or topics like the ones in this forum.


Which is why it's important for that "weak link" to be reinforced through learning basic computer/online security and reading security blogs or topics like the ones in this forum.
This goes completely against conventional security soft wisdom = security softs should be "plug-and-play" with no user interaction required... all for the sake of n00bs and those who just have no inclination to learn IT security fundamentals - because it is considered too much of a burden for the user to learn.

Because of the last part is the reason why signature-based AVs will be around for the next 100 years - if not longer.

It's the face of stupidity...

ravi prakash saini

Level 13
To update the software is the responsibility of respective vendor but updating the brain is the responsibility of the user he can not hide behind plug-and-play.for example television were so simple ,say,20 years ago true plug-and-play but who wants to use them now.typical user is ready to update himself about how to use smart television but not in cyber world