Phishing for Information

Before compromising a victim, adversaries may send phishing messages to elicit sensitive information that can be used during targeting. Phishing for information is an attempt to trick targets into divulging information, frequently credentials or other actionable information. Phishing for information is different from Phishing in that the objective is gathering data from the victim rather than executing malicious code.

All forms of phishing are electronically delivered social engineering. Phishing can be targeted, known as spearphishing. In spearphishing, a specific individual, company, or industry will be targeted by the adversary. More generally, adversaries can conduct non-targeted phishing, such as in mass credential harvesting campaigns.

Adversaries may also try to obtain information directly through the exchange of emails, instant messages, or other electronic conversation means.[1][2][3][4][5] Phishing for information frequently involves social engineering techniques, such as posing as a source with a reason to collect information (ex: Establish Accounts or Compromise Accounts) and/or sending multiple, seemingly urgent messages.

ID: T1598
Sub-techniques:  T1598.001, T1598.002, T1598.003
Tactic: Reconnaissance
Platforms: PRE
Data Sources: Email gateway, Mail server, Social media monitoring
Contributors: Robert Simmons, @MalwareUtkonos; Sebastian Salla, McAfee
Version: 1.0
Created: 02 October 2020
Last Modified: 25 October 2020


Mitigation Description
User Training

Users can be trained to identify social engineering techniques and spearphishing attempts.


Depending on the specific method of spearphishing, the detections can vary. Monitor for suspicious email activity, such as numerous accounts receiving messages from a single unusual/unknown sender. Filtering based on DKIM+SPF or header analysis can help detect when the email sender is spoofed. Also consider enabling DMARC to verify the sender of emails.[6][7]

When it comes to following links, monitor for references to uncategorized or known-bad sites. URL inspection within email (including expanding shortened links) can also help detect links leading to known malicious sites.

Monitor social media traffic for suspicious activity, including messages requesting information as well as abnormal file or data transfers (especially those involving unknown, or otherwise suspicious accounts).