Let’s tackle phishing: Spear Phishing

Are you aware that “Phishing” is the predominant type of cyber-crime?

Studies reveal that cyber-criminals send more than 3 billion scam emails every day. It’s alarming to consider that this nearly equates to half the world’s population!

Phishing is a cyber-attack where criminals trick you into revealing sensitive information through emails, messages, or websites. These attacks are mass-targeted, and they rely on volume sent to increase success rates.

A form of cyber-attack that’s on the rise, is Spear Phishing. We’ve seen a huge rise of Spear Phishing scams in Ireland, with their focus on medium to large organizations.

Although these two types of attacks are similar, they differ in their approach and targeting methods.

Spear Phishing definition:

In spear phishing, cyber attackers tailor the attack to a specific individual or organization as a targeted form of attack.

Spear phishing targets a select group of individuals, unlike broad phishing attacks. Attackers conduct thorough research to gather information such as names, job titles and email addresses. After obtaining this information, they create customized emails or messages that appear to be from a familiar and trusted source.

The goal of spear phishing is to get you to click on a malicious link or open a malicious attachment. Attackers use everything they learned from their research: Familiar language, referencing recent events, or leveraging internal knowledge of the target.

Spear phishing attempts are highly targeted, more sophisticated, and harder to detect than generic phishing attempts. These attacks exploit trust and familiarity, and with your guard lowered, it increases the attackers’ chances of success.

Common Spear Phishing techniques:

The video below demonstrates a Spear Phishing Example by In-Tuition Networks. It shows how easily we can fall victim to these cyber-attacks:

Spear phishing attackers use various techniques to trick you, such as:

Fake websites – An attacker sends a link to a spoof version of a popular or familiar website, imitating the original site.

CEO Fraud – The attacker poses as a high-ranking executive, often those responsible for financial transactions or sensitive data.

Malware – Email messages trick you into clicking on a malicious attachment, such as an invoice.

Smishing – An SMS-based phishing attack asking you to update account details or change a password.

Vishing – An attacker will leave a voicemail urging the victim to hand over personal information.

Typically spear phishing attacks will create a sense of urgency, requiring urgent responses or updates.

How do I protect myself against phishing attacks?

We highly recommend security and phishing awareness training for employees of any size business. Using simulations will help identify common tactics used by cyber-criminals and reduce risk while safeguarding your reputation.

Here are some precautions to take to stay cyber-safe:

  • Be cautious about sharing personal or sensitive information, even if the request appears to come from someone you trust.
  • Double-check the email address, URLs, or sender details for any suspicious or slight variations.
  • Be alert to the email’s tone and language. Does it appear strange or different from what you know and expect?
  • Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown or suspicious sources
  • Regularly update security measures & software, such as antivirus solutions, spam filters, MFA.
  • Learn about spear phishing techniques and conduct security awareness training for your organization

You can reduce the risk of spear phishing attacks by being cautious, verifying emails, and maintaining good cyber-security habits.

At Hybrid Technology Partners we work closely with all our clients to educate users on typical threats to look out for. Contact Mario to discuss booking a session for your staff. For any advice, email security solutions or more info, get in touch with us.

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