Targeted spishing and traditional mail bombing attacks combine to create another new genre in the e-mail scam game: the longline.
This name is not just another fishing word game, but rather a literal description of how this technique works.
Longline fishing is a commercial practice that uses a single mile long tail, lured with thousands of individual hooks. Longline phishing circumvents traditional security systems through a process of «mass customization», using a rapid bombardment of thousands of messages with a single target.
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Many security gateway filters will look for identical or similar messages from a single source, so they will not detect a longline attack, whose messages have very different subject lines, content and, most importantly, source IP addresses.
This multi-hook analogy applies to the content of the message body itself, which will contain multiple variations of the destination URL of the embedded malware, whose final destination will almost always be a trusted site that has been compromised in some way. (which helps avoid filtering reputation in URLs).
Think of long lines as a parallel phishing delivery system and you are at the right stage.
Armed with the ability to send hundreds of thousands of malicious URLs within hours, in addition to the ability to bypass many corporate gateway filtering systems, criminals increase their chances of exploiting a vulnerability zero days before the IT department be able to patch it.
I’ve heard that the longline is described as «combining the effectiveness of spear-phishing with the speed and magnitude of a virus attack» and that scares me, even if it doesn’t scare you.
I would certainly be encouraged to make sure that my IT security education program is up to date.