Skip to main content

New eBook: Security Service Edge (SSE) for dummies. Click here to download the eBook now.

IRONSCALES Remediates – Phishing email attack on financial services company through automation and awareness.

95% of all cyber attacks begin with a spear-phishing


The financial services industry is a prime target for cybercrime, with hackers targeting financial services firms 300 percent more than any other sector. A common and, frankly, simple method cyber criminals use to access an enterprise’s confidential and personal information is through phishing attacks. In fact, phishing attacks surged by 250 percent in the first quarter of 2016 – the highest ever since 2004, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG).

Financial Services + Phishing Threats

A financial services company requesting to remain anonymous, located in the United Kingdom, services both small and medium sized
businesses (SMB) and enterprises across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As such, the company must comply with industry
standards to ensure its company and its customers’ data is secure. However, regulations are often far behind today’s motivated and agile cyber criminals determined to hack into organisations’ networks for financial gain.

While the company had traditional defenses in place, such as anti-virus, SandBox, Firewalls, IPS and spam filters, it recognized that these  phishing remediation solutions were ineffective. Therefore, in early 2016, the company selected IRONSCALES as a means to proactively defend against phishing attacks and lead the company’s anti-phishing awareness and immediate response effort.

Anti-Phishing Corporate Training

Employees underwent IronTrain – IRONSCALES’ employee awareness program – in which its simulation program contains a comparable
scenario in order to train employees to successfully navigate similar phishing, attacks. In addition, IronTraps, the automated phishing email response solution, was immediately deployed on all company endpoints.

IRONSCALES is the world’s first and only anti-email phishing technology to combine human intelligence with machine learning. Our suite of technologies work together to prevent, detect and respond automatically to today’s sophisticated email phishing attacks using a multi-layered and automated approach.

The Email Phishing Attack

On July 11, 2016 at 10:58am, a malicious and sophisticated email phishing campaign targeted the financial services company, with the potential to spread to all of its employees, customers, third-party vendors and partners across the globe. The email’s subject line was titled “BAN009/0002 Bank of Ireland” and contained an HTML file named ‘Report_Template.html.’ In addition, the deceptive HTML file contained a perfect mockup page of a Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA) login page in an attempt to steal user credentials.

What happens after a phishing email is opened?

Once the email was opened and the file was downloaded, the attacker then had the opportunity to steal users’ information. To do
so, the attacker manipulated the email to cause some versions of Microsoft Outlook (2013) to crash. To reduce suspicions from currently logged-in users, a pop-up window appeared with the text “Due to version update logout was enforced” and the user were redirected to a fake OWA login page, created by the attacker, to submit his/her credentials.

The Email Security Response

Within five minutes of the first emails arrival, an employee reported the attack as suspicious through IRONSCALES active protection Microsoft Outlook button, a one-click process to the IRONSCALES system. At this point, 46 mailboxes were affected. Immediately, IRONSCALES automatic remediation process was triggered and IronTraps automatically deleted the suspicious email from the 46 affected mailboxes and prevented spread of the phishing attack to any other mailboxes. During the seven minutes between detection and completion of remediation, IronTraps secured ALL mailboxes and protected ALL of the company’s employees from unintentionally sharing credentials with the hackers.

Ultimately, IRONSCALES completely removed the threat from all mailboxes in 12 minutes and prevented significant financial and reputational damages to the company.