Proofpoint Report Reveals Threat Actors’ Top Social Engineering Tactics And Campaigns

Cybersecurity researchers at Proofpoint have today released their 2022 Social Engineering report, which analyses the key trends and techniques of socially engineered cyber threats observed over the past year.

The report reveals how popular and trusted services such as Google Drive and Discord are frequently abused by threat actors to convince victims; how Proofpoint sees millions of messages directing people to make phone calls as part of their attacks; and why techniques like thread hijacking can be so effective. The report also found that threat actors are holding extended conversations with their intended victims to build trust.

The report references several examples of sophisticated social engineering attacks, including:

·       Russian-aligned threat actor TA499 (AKA Vovan/Lexus) masquerading as the wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as part of attacks aligned with the Russian state’s objectives

·       North-Korean aligned TA406 phishing for login details through social engineering campaigns related to nuclear weapon safety and President Joe Biden.

The report also debunks 5 faulty assumptions about social engineering which are integral to why so many fall victim to these forms of attack.

The full report is online here: https://www.proofpoint.com/us/blog/threat-insight/how-threat-actors-hijack-attention-2022-social-engineering-report

Sherrod DeGrippo, Vice President, Threat Research and Detection, Proofpoint, said:  “Despite defenders’ best efforts, cybercriminals continue to defraud, extort, and ransom companies for billions of dollars annually. The struggle with threat actors evolves constantly, as they change tactics to earn clicks from end users.

“Security-focused decision makers have prioritized bolstering defenses around physical and cloud-based infrastructure which has led to human beings becoming the most relied upon entry point for compromise. As a result, a wide array of content and techniques continue to be developed to exploit human behaviors and interests.

“In this new report, Proofpoint researchers analyze frequently used social engineering techniques and look to debunk faulty assumptions made by organizations and security teams, which should be taken into account to better protect their employees against cybercrime.”

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