Pharma companies targeted by Mobile Phishing campaigns

December 2, 2020
pharma companies mobile phishing campaign spear-phishing antiphishing

A recent Threat Report and Assessment from leading security researchers revealed a growing threat. An in-depth analysis shows hackers prefer pharmaceutical companies over other industries as the target of choice for spear-phishing campaigns. Over the last decade, threat actors have been known to focus their efforts on large companies, both private and government-owned, because they’ve always found it profitable. However, these past few months have somehow changed that trend. It would seem that pharma company employees’ mobile devices are the easiest targets to conduct mobile phishing and spear-phishing campaigns. It became the instant favorite for hackers to deliver their malicious malware payloads to steal personal and corporate data.


Security researchers realized that the reason hackers prefer the mobile phishing methods is that a regular employee has access to dozens if not, hundreds of apps on their mobile device at any given time.


These apps provide hackers with near-infinite opportunities to socially engineer their targets on a personal level via their messaging apps, social media platforms, dating apps, and even online games. But of course, hackers will only need to target high-profile company personalities like Executives, Research Heads, Managers, basically someone with administrative or highly restricted access to the information they want.

With most of the global population relying on mobile devices nowadays, it’s easy to assume that all corporate employees will have either smartphones, tablets, or even laptops to access their information, including corporate infrastructures. This makes the risk even more significant, creating widespread hazardous possibilities for cybersecurity. The National Cyber Security Centre in the United Kingdom, together with the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States, have warned corporations and government agencies, especially those working for and involved in Covid-19 related efforts (Pharmaceutical Companies are at risk in general), to be on the lookout for possible threats and ensure that they have enough cybersecurity protocols and best practices to combat possible attacks.

CVEs or Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures on Operating Systems are, in general, patchable. However, CVEs are also considered exploitable land that can be actively targeted to take over a mobile device and bypass any of its built-in securities. Since an employee is responsible for using their mobile devices, it should be a regular practice. If not, they should be reminded to always check and update their devices for additional security. This should ensure that all security patches are installed, preventing any open doors for hackers to find.

With this ever-growing threat, hackers have become resilient, becoming more resourceful, and finding ways to up their game. They are continually capitalizing on sophisticated malware delivery methods and regularly using spear phishing to acquire access to corporate networks and infrastructures. Hackers are fully aware that a successful intrusion means long-term investments. With the emergence of surveillanceware and the use of ransomware, threat actors will not only be able to observe from a distance, but they will also have all the valuable information they will need to carry out their mission.

This realization should enable pharmaceutical companies and others as well, that the threat is always out there. The use of modern endpoint security has never been more essential. Infrastructure and enterprise solutions capable of threat detection regardless of the platform should protect against the harvesting of credentials and personal/corporate data, malware injections, and ultimately – phishing.

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