How Notification Banners Prevent Phishing Attacks

Posted by Stephen Ferrell
Stephen Ferrell

As children, we learn by association, and visual representation becomes associated with mental and verbal naming. This association is true regardless of which language we speak. Put simply, that is how we learn. It also works when we get older, particularly when we are learning a new language.

I can say "the young boy is under the airplane" in German thanks to one of the more popular language learning systems. I can remember the picture and the phrase, and now all I need to do is get myself into a situation where I can use the phrase. Surprisingly, finding myself in the company of a group of German speakers while a small child wanders under the wing of a stationary aircraft has yet alluded me.

Visual Learning is Key to Preventing Phishing Attacks

While at INKY we don’t spend a lot of time on German runways, we do recognize the value of visual learning when it comes to email security. We have adopted a similar method to learning and education – our banner phishing alerts.

Traditional email fraud prevention and email security systems deploy spam and malware filters to try to prevent fraudulent emails from making it to the users. The filters do a reasonable job of searching out and isolating suspicious files and use statistical analysis to identify common patterns in mass spamming attempts. Where these types of applications struggle though is successfully identifying email security attacks and providing phishing alerts, mainly when the fraudulent email is being carefully targeted to a specific user or corporation. In Phishing lingo this type of phishing attack is known as spear phishing, as the name suggests, this type of email security attack is extremely targeted.  As such, they tend to be written very subtly and have more in common with genuine email communications than general spam emails.

If we consider how we interact with the world around us, visual cues play a natural and important role in our everyday lives. Crossing the street, driving a car, taking a train - all of these activities rely on various levels of visual guidance to assure safety and prevent accidents.

Email Security from INKY Gives You An Additional Layer of Protection

At INKY we believe email security to be no different and use this approach to combat phishing attacks.

To provide an additional layer of protection, INKY’s Phish Fence anti-phishing solution utilizes a combination of tools including artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision to evaluate every email, even those that have already passed through a traditional spam and malware filter.

When INKY’s Phish Fence is deployed, each email that is sent to a user in a covered domain is provided with a supplemental color coded informational banner. The banner provides the user with an immediate evaluation of the message received. It provides real-time training for each and each every email received. When a suspected phishing attack occurs, and email fraud is suspected, Phish Fence provides an analysis of the content, breaking down the components of the email and identifying the specific elements of the phishing attack.

By associating visual cues with each email, we can condition the email user community to email fraud attacks without having to make them email security experts. An added benefit to our real-time training and prevention banner is that it does not require email users to constantly query IT about the legitimacy of the email they receive. INKY’s banner technology (think phishing alert) provides peace of mind to both the email users and the IT Security team.

Should a user still consider taking action on a red-bannered phishing alert, they are provided with a further warning screen that displays their likely fate should they continue trying to take action on the obvious phishing attack. Optionally, IT departments can also choose to filter off red banner emails into a quarantine pool that can then be examined for reclassification or simply deleted. Regardless of how INKY’s phishing alert banners are used, our visual approach to email security is a true paradigm shift from the traditional email security and fraud prevention approaches.

INKY Phishing Alerts Work

For customers who have already deployed INKY Phish Fence the results within their respective email communities have been significant. In the last 24 months customers have reported zero successful phishing attacks, a marked drop in the number of IT help-desk tickets, and a confident secure and empowered email user community.

Our banners are application and platform agnostic - meaning a unified user experience across mobile and desktop platforms, and across all major operating systems. INKY’s banner system protects every level of an organization, no matter a user’s email proficiency the banner system is a powerful equalizer.

At INKY we believe that email should be safe, that users should be able to communicate unencumbered by concerns about the fidelity of each email they receive. Our banner system can typically be deployed in less than an hour and integrates seamlessly into your current email security architecture.

At the end of the day whether you are from the ‘show me’ state or ‘need to see it to believe it’ INKY’s Phish Fence is ready to start protecting your email today. Take the Inky Phishing Fitness Test.

INKY – Phight Phish

Topics: phishing attack