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State of Browser Security: Defending browsers against ever evolving zero-hour phishing attacks

Neko Papez
January 24, 2024
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In the past six months, Menlo Security Threat Research revealed a 198% surge in browser-based phishing attacks. Despite the increased productivity from heightened browser usage, this poses a significant cybersecurity risk.

Traditional network controls and user training are no longer sufficient, as zero-hour phishing attacks bypass commonly deployed security tools. Enterprises are at risk as attackers exploit this gap, employing evasive techniques and social engineering to target users through browsers and steal credentials.

So, what’s the solution? Here are 3 keen insights:

1. Adapting defense strategies

CISOs need to adapt their defense strategies as cyber attackers increasingly target browsers. Recognizing that compromised user credentials often serve as the starting point for cybercrime campaigns, leading to ransomware outbreaks or intellectual property theft, it's crucial to redirect efforts towards browser security.

2. Human vulnerability in browser exposure

Humans remain a vulnerable entry point, particularly as the weak link in browser exposure. Our latest report highlights key insights from the Menlo Security Cloud which analyzes over 400 billion web sessions annually. This information is invaluable for CISOs and security teams, providing them with the necessary insight to make informed decisions amid this evolving threat landscape.

3. Phishing attacks have evolved dramatically

Evolution of phishing attacks

  • The nature of phishing attacks has evolved significantly, with over 740 attacks impacting each customer. This represents a significant hit rate. Past e-mail security research has shown that inbound phishing attempts rate at about 1,200 per targeted customer. Here, over half, by comparison, will get through to the browser if security controls are evaded.
  • The surge of browser-based attacks is not coming from known malicious or spurious fly-by-night sites. 75% of phishing links are hosted on known, categorized, or trusted websites.

Evasive techniques and source of attacks

  • Browser-based phishing attacks represent a nearly 200% increase during the last 6 months of 2023 with more than 31,000 threats employing evasive techniques used to bypass commonly deployed security solutions.
  • More than 73% of Legacy URL Reputation Evasion (LURE) attacks originated from categorized websites based on 1 million URLs analyzed by the team.

Limitations of traditional tools

  • Zero-hour phishing attacks exhibit no signature or digital breadcrumb, meaning no existing SWG or endpoint tool can detect and block these attacks from targeting their users.
  • 6 days is the average latency between a zero-hour phishing attack erupting and being added to the detection mechanism for traditional security tools.

Choosing the right solution

Traditional enterprise security solutions continue to fail against these novel threats. Even AI models trained on network-based telemetry fall short because classic firewalls and SWGs lack visibility into browser telemetry. With the widespread adoption of cloud services, increased browser usage, and remote work here to stay, Secure Cloud Browser technology has undeniably emerged as the reliable and scalable approach to mitigating these evasive threats targeting the browser.

Explore the comprehensive insights into how Secure Cloud Browser technology can provide end-to-visibility inside the browser, enabling enterprises to protect their users and data against zero-hour phishing attacks and the increasing browser attack surface.

Read the full report here.