The Rise of Phishing Attacks Through Decentralized Means

  • By Steven
  • Aug 09, 2022

Digital security specialists are issuing a siren call in response to the significant uptick in phishing attacks. Phishing is now a component of a decentralized offensive through an IPFS network. The phishing attack by way of a decentralized file system referred to as IPFS has emerged as a legitimate threat. As detailed below, IPFS represents fertile ground for hosting phishing sites.

How Many Attacks Have Been Launched?

According to Trustwave SpiderLabs, a digital security firm, the spam campaign includes several thousand emails, each of which has IPFS phishing URLs. The URLs in question are used as attack vectors.

What Does IPFS Stand For?

IPFS is an acronym that stands for InterPlanetary File System. IPFS functions as a P2P or a peer-to-peer network that allows for efficient file sharing and storage. The network is advanced to the point that it implements cryptographic hashes rather than the filenames or URLs employed in conventional client-servers. This approach aims to generate a reliable file system that ensures information can be stored within several machines, setting the stage for information access without the need for third parties. As a result, there is no dependence on cloud storage services, meaning there isn't any opportunity for outside censorship or restriction of autonomy.

Why is Phishing Within IPFS a Problem?

The removal of phishing within IPFS is inherently challenging. If the phishing content is removed in a single node, it will likely be within additional nodes. Furthermore, eliminating the phishing sites within IPFS is challenging without the URI necessary to identify and thwart content with malware.

How is the Attack Performed?

According to the cyber security specialists who have studied this form of phishing, the criminals attempt to coerce targets into clicking IPFS links that are nothing but attempts to manipulate others. The clicking of the links triggers the chain of infection, spurring victims to type in their login credentials to see documents, check the progress of a package out for delivery, access email, etc. In short, IPFS is a golden opportunity for aggressors to host harmful content and share it with others.

How Should the Threat be Viewed in the Overarching Context?

The details of the phishing attacks referenced above were revealed at a critical time. Shifting from a micro to a macro perspective, it becomes increasingly clear that email is becoming more treacherous by the day. Microsoft consistently works to thwart macros that spur aggressors to alter tactics to transmit executables that trigger ransomware, data theft, etc.

Why Aren’t the Attacks Identifiable Upon Activation?

The digital miscreants behind these attacks conceal their activity with web hosting services or URL redirection strategies. URL redirections help to stop scanners with URL automated analysis. Furthermore, the attacks are performed as a service in what is now referred to as PhaaS or phishing-as-a-service, meaning mercenaries are available for hire, empowering anyone willing to break the law to hire a digital threat actor to target another party in an attack.

Have Other Similar Attacks Caused Similar Problems?

Yes. A massive campaign identified less than one month ago employed phishing as a component of the Robin Banks PhaaS platform. The campaign was designed to steal financial information from individuals doing business with banks throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and beyond. The evolution of phishingshould prompt all computer users, business owners, and others to implement the industry’s latest digital safeguards.

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