Next Big Threat? – Polymorphic Attacks

During the first half of 2020, cybersecurity analysts and security experts have discovered that most of the phishing attacks conducted through the use of spoofed login pages. Polymorphic phishing attacks are on the rise in recent times as hackers are coming up with new ways to create spoofed login pages that are almost unidentifiable. This is one of the most frequently used methods implemented by cybercriminals for stealing the credentials of employees and users.Researchers have disclosed that more than 50,000 spoofed login pages replicating 200 popular international brands have been circulating since 2019.

This sudden increase in the number of polymorphic phishing attacks is because spoofed login pages are extremely difficult to identify but are comparatively easier to generate by hackers. Automated phishing kits that are illegally sold over the dark web, are deployed by cybercriminals to instigate these malicious phishing campaigns and to trick employees on a wider scale. This is why phishing awareness and training has become absolutely imperative in organizations in the 21st Century. As a CISO or CIO of your company, taking adequate precautions to prevent polymorphic phishing attacks is the need of the hour.

All you need to know about Polymorphism 

In a polymorphic phishing attack, attackers usually make minor alterations in the sender ID of a valid source or spoof an email address. They use social engineering attack techniques to make sure that the spoofed email ID replicates the authentic ID. The hackers then send these malicious emails to the employees in reputed organizations. More often than not, the email lands into the inbox of employees due to the lack of proper email authentication protocol in the company.

This malicious email comes with a link or attachment that redirects the employee to a spoofed login page. The login page asks for the employees’ corporate credentials and passwords. Ill-informed and unaware employees can easily fall for such polymorphic phishing attacks and give up their company login credentials on the spoofed page.

This information is used by hackers to extract valuable data of the company, gain access to company assets and financial information, find out personal details of employees working in the company, and conduct other fraudulent activities.

42% of all phishing attempts in 2020 were as a result of Polymorphism, as per a global survey conducted by security researchers.

According to security officials around the world, while these login pages are fraudulent in nature, they look extremely similar to original webpages. This is why cyber attackers use Polymorphism techniques to phish employees via spoofed login pages and succeed at it.

A cybercriminal can make minuscule changes in the email address so as to replicate a popular brand as closely as possible to skip detection. Since the changes made are very minor, such emails easily evade email security checkers, and email security tools may fail to detect them.

The most probable reasons for the increase in the number of spoofed login pages may be due to the following two reasons:

  • CISOs, CIOs, and SOC analysts of the reputed brand whose landing page has been spoofed seek ways for taking the fake pages down. This makes the hackers create more new pages so that it can continue to spoof employees.
  • Certain brands or companies may be an easy target for cybercriminals due to the lack of a well-rounded workplace security policy in their organization. This is the reason why attackers get away with polymorphic phishing attacks.

How to Detect Spoofed Login Pages?

While it may be difficult to detect spoofed login pages and prevent being phished, there are certain ways by which one can attempt to understand whether a login page is from an authentic source or not. Before being redirected to a login page it is always advisable to check whether the email is from a valid IP address as well.

This can be done by paying attention to the domain name and subdomains, as attackers might make minor changes in the same to trick employees. It also advisable to check whether the email has a relevant subject, is grammatically correct, and doesn’t provide lucrative offers or instigate a sense of urgency. After making sure of these pointers and clicking on the URL in the attachment when the login page opens up, employees must make sure:

  • While hovering over the URL it is redirecting them to the desired page
  • The login page is well-designed and all the hyperlinks on the page are fully functional and redirect them to the desired pages
  • The URL of the webpage is secured over HTTPS
  • The page doesn’t ask them to disclose their corporate credentials or bank account details and password since such information should never be submitted on external platforms

Polymorphic Phishing Attack Prevention and Solution

As a CISO in your company, implementing a robust cybersecurity policy in your organization is imperative. To achieve this, security analysts may take help from the IT department and implement security solutions and tools in their respective organizations. A phishing attack awareness and training program can help employees to gain better insights on social engineering attack vectors. Proper awareness among employees can reduce the chances of polymorphic phishing attacks.

cyber attack awareness and training program starts working by simulating sophisticated impersonations of real-life cyber attacks on a company’s employees. A number of simulations are perpetrated to increase security awareness.

After this, the training procedure is initiated, by imparting knowledge on the various types of attack vectors. This is done through awareness content giving detailed insight on them, visual presentations on attack identification, as well as video lectures and advisories on the same. Regular cumulative assessments are then taken to ensure improvements and initiate a better response against attacks.

Detailed analysis of simulation reports is provided to track results and monitor progress made via assessments and knowledge imparting sessions taken by employees.

In order to prevent employees from falling prey to phishing attacks, it is imperative for CISO and security officials to implement AI-driven cybersecurity solutions. By upgrading your workplace cybersecurity policy and implementing leading-edge cybersecurity solutions in your company, it is possible to ensure protection against polymorphic phishing attacks.

Competitive Analysis for your Mobile App Idea-Guide

What is a competitive analysis and how to conduct one (plus free templates) - Wave Blog

Now, we know that you’re ready to break new grounds in the app industry. You’ve got a great app idea, your market study on the technology it would require and the features it would have, is on point. To make it all way less complex, you have even partnered with a great team of app developers. You are now looking forward to a bright and profitable future.

And since you are the one who has come up with this revolutionary mobile application idea, what can go wrong? Believe it or not, such wishful thinking can be the death of your app.

It is important that you realize that you won’t operate in isolation. You will be competing with millions of other apps in both Apple and PlayStore combined, which will be staring at you as your competition in the app industry. So, the chances of yours being a never thought before app idea is very slim. Hence, it is absolutely imperative for you to perform a mobile app competitive analysis.

In this post we would like to acquaint you with the why and how of running a competitive analysis for your app idea.

What is a Competitive Analysis in terms of Mobile App?

Why Competitive Research Is Important And How To Do It Right - Relevance

Competitive analysis is a nerdy term for identifying and evaluating your current and potential competition’s strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own whole app or even some of its features.

Why do You Need to Perform a Competitive Analysis for Your Mobile App Idea?

Competitive analysis is no exact science. While every app developer will have their own way of performing the analysis, the upshot would largely remain the same: Identify your competitors, see how you can outwit them (of course, by compensating where they are lacking), and draft a plan to do so.

Delving deep into your competition would help you analyze the position of your mobile app in the market and reassesses the viability of your app idea. It would help you with acquiring competitive intelligence, which will not only demonstrate your great business acumen to the investors but will also give you an edge in the crowded app industry.

Let’s begin with the fun part

While this is no battle, you would need to equip yourself with the correct armoury to take on your competition. There are a few app competitor analysis tools that can help you with performing competitive analysis for your mobile application idea efficiently and effectively.

Here’s what you would need:

  • Internet
  • Spreadsheet
  • Some quiet time for assessment
  • The 2 steps mentioned below to do a competitive assessment matrix for your app

Step 1– Profiling current competition

How to Write a Great Business Plan: Competitive Analysis |

Mobile app developers are part of a very competitive industry. Hence you need a complete understanding of your competition to get an idea as to what you are up against. Map each and every one of your competitors, even the potential ones.

For this, you can search for keywords that are related to your app idea. It’s a relief that you don’t have to be an SEO expert to do that. All you need to do is put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and imagine what they’d search.

For instance, if yours is a professional photo editing app, your searches should look something like this: “best photo editing app” “photo editor”, “photo editor with cool camera effects” etc.

Even a simple Google search as this, will garner a series of photo editing based apps currently available on the App Stores.

Step 2– Market Analysis of an App

Android App Market Analysis — Data Visualization Case Study | by Vivi Shin | Medium

Be a Stalker! (A harmless one)

After identifying your competitors, the first thing you would want to do is going through their website, apps, social media profile. Make a log of each competitor based on your research.

You can use tools like SimilarWeb, Alexa, Ahrefs, etc. You can rely on their expertise in revealing your competition’s analytical and online strategies. If there’s a new kid on the block, they would be sure to know about them and keep you up to date to the competition.

Another good place to scrutinize is ProductHunt. It can be a great pit stop in your long journey in deciphering your potential competitors. It’d give you details about new app ideas or people are coming up with across the globe. It would be instrumental in mapping out your completion at a very early stage.

This would open up a door for you and let you see right through their strategies, tactics, weaknesses and strengths that are relative to yours.

Your research should essentially focus on the following parameters.

Competitor’s Web Presence  

How to Perform a Competitive Analysis and Establish Your Presence - DevriX

You can copy your competitors’ website URL and paste it on the search bar of pages like Alexa, Quantcast. These will help you attain competitive intelligence and help you gain information about a website’s traffic and consumer demographics, which will eventually help you enjoy better benefits of creating user personas.

The work doesn’t end there. You also need to keep tabs on their social media presence.

What kind of articles or reviews were published to promote your competitor’s app? How do they serve their customers via social media? What sort of paid campaigns do they run? Which social channels are they missing? Is there an opportunity for you there?

Basically you need to get a feel of their web and social media strategies that they use to endorse their app. This would help you gain a competitive edge.

Competitor’s Unique Value Offering

Android Rate App feature implementation - Android Dvlpr

Every business has its unique selling point (USP); something that distinguishes it from the others. What we mean is that each business brings with itself it’s own “value offering”. You can discern your app competition on this particular paradigm.

For your competitors, it can be anything – timely response to customers’ grievances, regular updates, greater look into security, or a feature that others are adopting to at a very slow rate.

Knowing your competitors’ unique selling proposition and measuring it up against what your common audiences are looking for, will give you an understanding of what you need to offer as your USP.

Rankings of Competitors’ Apps

Competitive Intelligence Apps To Try in 2020 - Competitors App

An app’s ratings speak volumes about its foothold in the market. You can tell whether or not your competition is treading well in the market.

Sensor Tower is one such tool that can get you access to critical data regarding your competitors’ keywords and rankings in app store. It would also help you discern them on the basis of threat they post to your app idea.

While App Ratings matter to a great extent, there can be a number of reasons affecting them. For a more detailed study on how the users are liking the apps your competitor has to offer, go to their reviews section.

Reviews on Competitors’ Apps

Why You Have to Read Your Competitors' Reviews (and How to Do It Effectively) · ASO Tools and App Analytics by Appfigures

App reviews are a great indicator of how successful an app is. And one of the most important stages of App Competitor Analysis.

Look for complaints made by the users, especially the ones that are repetitive. Don’t forget to look out for recurring praises as well. If a competitive app has negative reviews saying that it is quite difficult to navigate, you should remember to keep your interface smooth and easy flowing.

Combing through the reviews will tell you exactly what your potential customers’ pain points are and what is keeping them happy. With that information in hand, you can add more features into your mobile app development process or even plan an update plan at the back off.

Competitor’s Strengths and Weaknesses

SWOT-analysis - Annabel Forster

Remember the much learned and talked about SWOT Analysis concept? While generally used for internal business analysis, you can use the concept for making a tab on your competitors’ as well. Use the Strength and Weakness part of the SWOT analysis for understanding what they have to offer on both these fronts. And, keep the Opportunity and Threat part on hold for now and come back to them at a later stage (when you are analyzing your brand).

After such diligent research, you can map out your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Try to avoid the mistakes that might have cost your competitors dearly. Aim at outdoing their strengths by pushing your own limits and achieving newer horizons.

All of this superfluous competitive intelligence might get you confused or overwhelmed. However,  do not lose sight of your task at hand, which is to meticulously analyse your competition. Planning your mobile app competitive analysis with these elements, will bring you at par or even way above your competitor’s level.

So now you know where your mobile app competitors’ stand, what next?

But what do you do with this information? Now that your bubble of being the sole proprietor of the app idea has burst, what next? How should you go about utilizing the generated insights into your app business plan?

Once you know where your app competitors stand, the next step in line is to see where you belong. Note how your app ranks among the ones the others in the similar category. Chances are you will have to get back to the development stage and make some tweaks here and there to give your users an app they ideally want.

The idea is to constantly update your app to give your users newer, more useful updates, those that will keep them hooked to you, all the while keeping a lookout on how your competitors are performing. You can make use of tools like Google Alerts, Ahrefs, Social Media, BuzzSumo to remain updated with what’s new with your competitors.

Need More Information on How to Perform Competitive Analysis for your App? Contact our Team of Mobile App Marketing Experts, today.

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