Spear Phishing: One of the Most Common Email Scams

spear phishing

Email scams keep advancing every single day, and some of these scams are more deceptive than others. Sometimes, hackers send out the same scam to thousands of people. Other times, hackers do their research and create tailored shams for specific individuals to make them more believable and successful. These scams are called spear phishing.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term “phishing”, it’s explained in detail below. You’ll also learn some examples of spear phishing and how to protect your business from it.

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What Is Phishing?

Phishing happens when hackers send out fake requests and make them look like they’re coming from somebody trustworthy. These requests may be related to login details, bank account info, or any other type of information.

A person can be targeted with a phishing attack in many different forms: text message, phone call, pop-up, etc. The most common source of phishing scams is email, which is why you need to be extra careful when it comes to email. There are many different types of phishing emails already circulating, but we’ll cover one specific type: spear phishing in this article.

what is spear phishing

What Is Spear Phishing?

Spear phishing is a more sophisticated form because it targets specific individuals by posing as actual people from their environment. This type of phishing is much more dangerous than regular phishing because it’s much more believable. Here’s an example of spear phishing vs. traditional phishing:

Spear phishing: A request from a colleague (coming from an email with their actual name) asking for specific login details. They might claim that they got locked out of their account and forgot their password.

Regular phishing: A request from a well-known organization asking you to enter your login details through a specified link.

Which one of these scams seems more believable and easier to fall for? Probably spear phishing. When you receive, for example, an email from a friend or colleague, you usually don’t check if they’re writing from their email, right? After all, what are the actual chances that a hacker did such detailed research on you that they’d know the name of a specific colleague? Well, it’s more likely than you’d think.

How To Protect Your Company Against Spear Phishing?

Spear phishing can cause massive damage to a company if successful. Your important login information may get leaked, and you may never be able to reaccess your accounts. To prevent this from actually happening to you, below are some simple precautions to take:

Use An Enterprise Password Manager

This is a tool that can safely store all of your company’s essential passwords. By setting up a password manager for your business, you ensure that all members access the passwords they need. Employees will know that there is no reason why a colleague would contact them asking for their password through email, making them less likely to fall for spear phishing schemes.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Relying on your passwords alone to keep your information safe is a sure way to get hacked at some point. Two-factor authentication ensures that the hacker cannot gain access to important accounts even if a business password gets leaked. If a password gets stolen and there’s an attempt to log into a specific account, you’ll receive an alert. Once you receive the warning, you can change your password, and your account will remain unbreached.

Raise Awareness

All members of the company should know what spear phishing is and what phishing is in general. Notify employees about email security and signs of potential phishing schemes. For example, let all members of your organization know that nobody should ever share or ask for a password through email.

Also, employees should know to look out for malicious links. If they receive a weird email inviting them to click on a link, they should inspect the source in more detail and check that the URL begins with “https”, indicating that the website is secure.

Set Up a Firewall

Set up firewalls for all work devices as an extra protective measure against spear phishing. A firewall acts as a filter between a device and incoming traffic and can detect malware before it causes any damage. Even if someone within your company clicks on a link containing malware, a firewall can identify the threat and notify the user about it.

Spear phishing is one of the main threats to business security these days, especially since it’s so difficult to spot. Without proper awareness and cybersecurity tools, your business can fall for one of these scams one day, and who knows how that would end up.

If you use an enterprise password manager, set up two-factor authentication, raise awareness within your company, and set up firewalls for all work devices, you’ll likely protect your business from these types of attacks. However, these are just a few steps to take toward a more secure business.

To protect your company from the abundance of cyber attacks that occur every day, keep updating your knowledge on these threats and employ even more cybersecurity tools.

How To Report a Scammer

Let your family and friends know about spear phishing by distributing this article on social media. You can also officially report scammers or any other suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using this link here: Report To The FTC Here

How To Protect Yourself More

If you want to be the first to find out the most prevalent scams every week, proceed to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodic emails – we promise not to spam.

Meanwhile, educate yourself with some other email fraud-related articles right under this paragraph, so that you know how to stay safe online. Last but not least, feel free to use the comments section below to expose other scammers.

How To Spot Phishing

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selma hrynchuk
Selma HrynchukSelma is a fraud prevention specialist renowned for her expertise in private eye investigations and a remarkable partnership with law enforcement agencies. Beyond her investigative triumphs, her public speaking engagements and written works have empowered countless individuals to protect themselves and stay ahead of deceptive schemes. Selma's legacy shines as a tenacious agent of change, unyielding in her commitment to battling fraud and ensuring a safer world for all.

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