“Am I safe on the internet?”
It’s something that most think while on a break from work, only to be caught up by their duties and responsibilities soon. They get the better of them and the question remains unanswered. It seems relatable, right? I am pretty sure it is.
But hey! Let’s concentrate on the answer and it’s a big NO; we are not as safe on the internet as most naive souls assume themselves to be. It may sound unbelievable, but a lot of times, you are an inch closer to be brutally victimized by cyber-criminals!
What do you reckon is a notorious cyber-criminals favorite tool?
Let's tell you – it's phishing!
Over the years, phishing attack cases have become common to a point where the top cyber-security experts are frequently contacted to curb them efficiently. They are marked by attempts to gain unauthorized access to your private credentials or vital information through deceiving means.
And while on this topic, it’s important you know about its most terrifying category - spear phishing. Check out an interesting trivia here: Did you know spear-phishing makes up for 91% of the total cyber-attacks?
Yeah, we are equally surprised!
And so, what does it tell you about spear phishing? Know it inside out to beat it handsomely. So, read on and widen your knowledge base.
Phishing Vs Spear Phishing
It’s not often that a spear-phishing attack makes the front page. Take this fact for example; reports say 71.4% of targeted attacks have been known to use spear-phishing emails. Thus, you must be thoroughly aware of it.
Previously we have talked about how this kind of phishing works. This blog is aimed at highlighting a few other important areas that need your attention now more than ever.
Like for instance, how spear phishing differs from normal phishing. As we know, both are aimed at ‘acquiring’ access to private data. But people often tend to confuse one with the other. Well, considering they sound alike, we don’t blame you!
It’s time for phishing vs. spear phishing. Let’s clear any iota of doubt you have.
Phishing is a broader term applied for cyber-attack attempts where people imitate someone genuine to trick their targets. On the other hand, spear phishing is one of the many techniques employed for the same.
And herein, lies the main difference!
Phishing in general means targeting a large group of people with the expectation that a small segment of them might fall into the trap. Spear phishing, as we now know is one of the methods used, targets either a single recipient or a group based on similar characteristics.
This method’s essence lies in its ability to target an organization’s employees and make them carry out orders.
Some common elements of spear phishing attacks
The source appears to be a legit one
Scammers email their targets in a way that seems like it’s from a legitimate source. Such sources closely resemble an authentic email id. So, it’s hard to identify a phishing attack email.
Attackers include personalized messages in their mails, as they are familiar with their targets’ habits. Like if you have shared your thoughts about a long-pending vacation, you might get an email from a friend suggesting the top tourist destinations, having a link to a website.
Click and boy are you in trouble!
Phishers make sure to include an enticing link or two so that you click on them. They might also offer something that you deeply long for.
What happens in a spear-phishing attack, upon clicking the URL included in the mail, you are either re-directed towards a spoof website or a malware is downloaded.
When the former happens, the site may prompt you to take an action like entering your login credentials. For example, the website may state your system is prone to virus attack or it’s undergoing a low-performance issue.
And to solve this, you are asked to log in to your account, thus compromising its security and making it vulnerable to these evil hands!
Experts’ tips to avoid spear phishing
Upon cryptographically signing and subsequently, sending an email, only those with the private key can access its content, keeping it safe from cyber-criminals. Imposters thus find it difficult to get their hands on it, irrespective of the phishing attack types!
Filter your inbox
Configure your email application and let it efficiently block spam emails. There should be a clear distinction between emails from trusted sources and those outside the system.
You must regularly update your installed applications. Cybercriminals tend to misuse any lag and exploit your vulnerabilities quite effectively. Fighting spear phishing is easy with these productive tips.
Experts say spear-phishing messages target the already compromised systems. So, the best step in this scenario would be getting hold of anti-spam software. It can easily identify any compromised mail server.
Hold back on your online activities
Ah! This is for all those social media addicts!
Are you one of those who blatantly share their personal information on social media platforms? If yes, then buddy you are at potential risk! If a scammer lays his eyes on you, the same details may be used to produce a personalized message, triggering a spear-phishing attack.
For further understanding, surf the web for any recent case of a phishing attack on Facebook users.
Data protection program
Every organization must essentially have a data protection program. Data loss prevention software can take things a notch higher and efficiently protect sensitive data. So, contact a prominent cyber-security expert today and get things going!
Meanwhile, there are a handful of other important things that you can do. Like, spread awareness on the whole issue so that your employees are well-versed with the whole thing. They should be able to detect such attacks and also, train them on good email practices.
Keeping all these in mind will significantly help you in the cause. However, never shy away from contacting professionals when in a dire situation!
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