We talk a lot about phishing. What it is, what it does, and perhaps most critically, what it looks like. However, have you ever expected a phishing email to look like… nothing? As in, a completely blank message?
If you answered, “no,” that’s exactly what today’s cybercriminals are counting on.
Let’s look at how blank emails are often a sign of worse attacks to come.
Let’s consider things from the perspective of the hacker for a moment. You only have so much time and money to spend on a spam campaign, so you want to make sure you’re using it as efficiently and effectively as possible. Why would you decide to spend your funds sending out completely blank emails?
Simple: a blank email helps an attacker to gauge how susceptible the recipient may be to a more specific attack.
For instance, one thing that a scammer could do is just send out an email that had nothing but a few random, gibberish characters in the subject line. Why would they do so? Simple: if the email isn’t kicked back with a notification that the recipient address doesn’t exist, the attacker knows that they’ve found a legitimate address to target more strategically. If the email delivers a read receipt to the scammer, the scammer then also knows that the owner of the inbox is regularly checking it and actually opened the message.
Some attackers will send a blank email with a coherent subject line and perhaps a few words in the message. This prompts some potential targets to respond with a request for more information, marking themselves as a target for a real phishing email later on.
In all of these scenarios, the outcome is the same: the scammer/hacker knows that they have an email address that is susceptible to their phishing attacks.
In this way, the blank email is effectively the lure that confirms a target is a worthwhile one to pursue. Unfortunately, these kinds of spam emails are very easily spread through a botnet, making it even more challenging to avoid.
While there are things that can be done to help reduce the impact of any kind of cyberattack, the best outcomes are always the result of an informed workforce having the skills to avoid the risks in the first place. Hopefully, this helps keep your business that much safer, and don’t hesitate to give One Up Solutions Northwest a call at (503) 278-5011 to find out what else we can do for you.