Guide: How to Pro­tect Your­self From Spear Phish­ing

Ever received an email from the fictional ‘Nigerian Prince’ who has so much wealth stashed away somewhere but needs your help to get it back? By the way, this particular phishing scam is one of the longest-running internet fraudsters and still fetches over $ 700,000 every year. This is just one of many examples of phishing attempts that hackers and other cyber criminals carry out when trying to obtain personally identifiable or sensitive information from unsuspecting people. Phishing attacks are common, but there is a more targeted type known as Spear Phishing. We are going to explain what it is, how it works and how to prevent such an attack.

What is spearphishing

In general, phishing comes in various forms, including forged social media messages or scam emails, etc., linking to a bogus website full of malicious code and various threats. The main goal of the attacker is to make you click on the link and type in your information so that they can steal or download malware.

Today, however, phishing attempts are more sophisticated because the sites riddled with malware and other threats look and work almost the same as the real sites you visit. Spearphishing is one of these advanced yet highly targeted attacks targeting specific companies or individuals. The attackers collect sensitive and personal information about their targets, increasing the chances of success in their plan. Yes, it is very easy for senior people and executives in large companies to fall victim to such attacks, giving them access to the company’s funds or network.

How Spear Phishing Works

Spear phishing differs from other forms of phishing in that in this case the perpetrator already has first-hand information about the target before attacking. The fraudsters pose as trusted parties and entice you to share your personal or sensitive information with them. It’s not that difficult for someone to find out information about you online, especially through social media.

With your details at hand, such as your residence or tax details or workplace details, the perpetrators will try to get you to trust them and see how far they can go with the scam. Since the information they use appears to be legitimate, you are more likely to download attachments or click on links they sent you. Some of these links lead to bogus sites asking for a password or riddled with malware and trackers. Other such attempts may require you to send money, enter your bank or credit card information, or your social security number.

When spear phishing fraudsters target individuals, they tend to impersonate people you trust and tell you that you owe some money, have unpaid dues, or that your account will be closed / frozen soon. They can also offer some lucrative deals to get you clicking or downloading something. Spear phishing attacks on businesses are also highly targeted and usually target mailboxes. The scammer poses as a company executive and asks an employee to transfer some money to the fraudster’s account. Sometimes clicked links or downloaded attachments can be opened up your devices, giving the attackers remote system access to steal your information, or disabling your antivirus software altogether so you don’t get threat alerts.

How to Protect yourself from spear phishing

According to a survey by Intel, 97 percent of people cannot identify phishing emails – that’s a huge number. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to protect yourself from spear phishing and related attempts, such as:

Watching what you post on the internet. Check how much personal information you have posted on your social media pages and other public sites. You can also configure your privacy settings to limit what other people can see.

Update your software regularly as updates come with security patches that help protect you and your devices from attacks. A good practice here is to turn on automatic updates for your frequently used software and apps. Click only on the links you know and ignore suspicious looking links or emails. Many spear phishing fraudsters mask link destinations with legitimate-looking URLs on anchor texts, so you are lured to click and download malware. Use smart passwords. These can be variations of the passwords of the accounts you own, preventing your accounts from being attacked all at once in case you use one password for all. Carefully check all email addresses claiming to be from your “friend”, “boss” or “colleague,” especially those that ask you to send personal details such as passwords or other information. Use a data blocker when using your devices in public places. If you run a business or organization, have a data protection program that educates users about best practices and how to implement data protection to prevent data loss during such attacks. It is also advisable to have data loss prevention software to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive company data.

Fight Spear Phishing Attacks

Unlike the usual phishing attacks that act on your gullibility, Spear phishing taps into your trust. We hope you now know what it is and how to prevent yourself or your company from such attacks. The next up: One of the most emotionally draining and devastating threats in our time is ransomware. One of the most recent is the Snatch Ransomware threat. Our next article will cover what it is, how it works, and how to get rid of it if you fall victim to it.

How to Pro­tect Your­self From Spear Phish­ing: benefits


Final note

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