Omen: Identifying Potential Spear-Phishing Targets Before the Email is Sent   [open pdf - 2MB]

"We present the results of a two year project focused on a common social engineering attack method called 'spear phishing'. In a spear phishing attack, the user receives an email with information specifically focused on the user. This email contains either a malware-laced attachment or a link to download the malware that has been disguised as a useful program. Spear phishing attacks have been one of the most effective avenues for attackers to gain initial entry into a target network. This project focused on a proactive approach to spear phishing. To create an effective, user-specific spear phishing email, the attacker must research the intended recipient. We believe that much of the information used by the attacker is provided by the target organization's own external website. Thus when researching potential targets, the attacker leaves signs of his research in the webserver's logs. We created tools and visualizations to improve cybersecurity analysts' abilities to quickly understand a visitor's visit patterns and interests. Given these suspicious visitors and log-parsing tools, analysts can more quickly identify truly suspicious visitors, search for potential spear-phishing targeted users, and improve security around those users before the spear phishing email is sent."

Report Number:
SAND 2013-5511; Sandia National Laboratories 2013-5511
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Sandia National Laboratories: http://www.sandia.gov/
Media Type:
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