Everyone—businesses and individuals alike—has sensitive information that cybercriminals want. To get it, cybercrooks aim a targeted hacking attack at a specific user. The purpose might be to steal the customer’s personal information that can lead to identity theft, to exploit the organization’s intellectual property, or even use the person’s sensitive income and employment data. These targeted attacks are known as spear phishing. They are designed to dupe the victim into downloading malware or giving away login details. Spear phishing is one of the most popular ploys used by hackers these days. Therefore, it is important for a person and a corporation to stay safe from this common hacking attack. Trustifi offers complete protection for your email system against any level of threat.
In spear phishing, the target is just a single individual. Hence, spear phishing emails are crafted in such a way that users trust the email enough to open it and click the link or download the malware immediately. A report from Barracuda’s security company says that 83 percent of spear phishing attempts rely on brand spoofing, where the perpetrator’s email appears to come from a reputable company.
How Spear Phishing Works
Typically, spear phishing targets the victim through email. Sometimes, however, it can also be done with SMS text messages (smishing) or voice calls (vishing). Spear phishing hackers use advanced techniques. They create bogus emails with carefully crafted details to maximize the probability of a victim opening the email and clicking the malicious link. Moreover, hackers typically choose a specific day of the week to send an email as it can increase the victim’s chances of opening the message. Research says one in five bogus emails are sent on Tuesday.
In brand masquerade attacks, emails often seem to come from a popular tech giant—Paypal or Google, for example. Users can, however, also receive spear phishing emails from airlines, banks, and other non-tech brands.
These attacks may be made to look like they come from a trusted source, such as a customer, manager, IT support, or the accounting department. The attackers will cleverly research users, dig out their contact information, and create an email that appears reasonable. Hackers use Facebook, Twitter, and other open-source intelligence to gather more information about the user, including their interests, where they work, and their colleagues.
Steps of a typical spear phishing attack:
- Search the email address: Choose the target and identify their email address.
- Technical evasion: Research the target company, find out its defenses, and dig up other relevant information about the company.
- Send the emails: Buy a clean but fake domain address and modify Whois information to align with target domains.
- Reap the Reward: Wait until the target opens the email, falls for the ploy, and clicks the malicious link that leads the hapless victim into the perpetrator’s nefarious net.
Ways to Protect from Spear Phishing
Spear phishing presents significant challenges to mounting a solid defense. Traditional anti-spam techniques work well with other phishing attacks, but both whaling and spear phishing are specifically crafted to tackle these automated security defenses. Nevertheless, if you want to protect yourself from spear phishing, you should follow these simple steps in your company:
- Install the latest anti-malware software in your system.
- Use DMARC Technology.
- Encrypt your company’s confidential information.
- Activate two-factor authorization wherever possible.
- Build capabilities to identify malicious attacks.
- Educate your employees about spear phishing and test them regularly.
- Confirm all the emails before opening them.
Among these measures, the most effective method to avoid spear phishing is user education. Training users to spot suspicious emails is the most critical way to protect the company from spear phishing. The majority of spear phishing attacks succeed because of errors on the employee’s end. A little mistake by a worker can cost the entire company. When just one employee falls for a plausible message from a spoofed email address, the entire company’s sensitive information can be compromised. The good news is, people can avoid such errors with practice and education. Companies should teach the basics of spear phishing to their employees and tell them how it works. The goal is to educate the workers about what they should do and what steps they should take if they encounter a suspicious message.
Because humans aren’t perfect, using Trustifi’s cybersecurity services is highly recommended as an added layer of protection for your business. Trust is not just a part of the company name, it is built into the secure email solutions it provides to hundreds of businesses like yours. Trustifi has been fighting phishing attacks for years and has developed a strong algorithm for protection. Contact a Trustifi representative today to learn how simple and affordable the next level of security protection can be.
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