Every individual receives spam emails with unsolicited email, foreign bank transaction requests, fake ads, and other appealing offers. Although spam emails are not harmful, as individuals either completely ignore them or respond accordingly.
But, spear phishing emails are quite the opposite of spam emails because they are not just harmful but also hard to detect. These attacks are considered as one of the most dangerous cyberattacks that can harm your business in numerous ways.
What is Spear Phishing?
Spear phishing is an email scam performed by cybercriminals to steal data from individuals, organizations, or businesses for malicious purposes.
If you’re confusing a spear-phishing attack with a phishing attack, then stop right there!
SPEAR-PHISHING VS. PHISHING
There is a fuss about spear phishing vs. phishing attacks, as most individuals often think of them as the same. Though spear phishing is a type of phishing scam, as it targets a specific individual, company, or organization, it is quite different from phishing attacks in terms of strategy.
A phishing attack is a practice of sending emails from a trustworthy source to ask the recipient to act on the received email. For example, most phishing attacks ask individuals for a wire transfer, open an attachment, provide some information, or click a link.
Spear phishing attacks are focused on obtaining data and installing malware on the victim’s computer for malicious purposes. It differs from regular phishing attacks because of the precision and complexity of the attack. Before implementing a spear-phishing attack, the attackers collect accurate information about their victims like their habits, how they respond to emails, their company structure, etc.
In short, we can say that spear-phishing attacks are designed and personalized based on each victim’s behavior to steal sensitive data. They are tailored to appear trustworthy, sound, reliable, and feel legitimate to ensure that the recipient responds to it.
How Does Spear Phishing Works?
In general, it works in the same manner as other phishing scams. The victim receives an email from a known resource and responds to it quickly without consent, which leads to losing internal data or a fake website full of malware. To better understand the spear-phishing attack, let’s put it this way.
Consider you’re a private assistant to a company’s owner. Now, if you get an email from your boss regarding a wire transfer, you won’t think twice before taking action, as the email comes from a trustworthy resource. But, what you don’t know is that the attacker did thorough research on the assistant, the company’s owner, how the owner composes an email, how the owner signs a letter and other information.
According to Security Magazine, there has been an increase of 667% in spear-phishing attacks after the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, businesses must protect their data against spear-phishing attacks.
Now, you must have questions in your mind like –
How to prevent spear phishing attacks? Or What helps protect from spear phishing?
Our in-house cyber experts have provided some advanced tips to help individuals protect their critical data against spear-phishing attacks.
The Top 5 Tips to Prevent Spear Phishing Attacks
1. Update System regularly with the Latest Security Patches
The first thing you need to do is update your system on a regular basis to install the latest security patches. It will help you avoid external malware links by blocking them. Besides, it would help if you also remind your employees to update their systems whenever a notification appears.
2. Implement DMARC Technology
Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance is an advanced technology that relies on SPF and DKIM policy to analyze and identify the incoming emails against its database. It checks whether the incoming mail matches the record for the sender or not. And if the mail records don’t match, then DMARC rejects it and sends a report against it to the security admin.
In other words, DMARC prevents spear phishing attacks from entering your inbox by using the anti-spoofing protection technique.
3. Encrypt Company’s Critical Data
File encryption is another excellent method to prevent the company’s critical data against cyber attacks like spear phishing. Encrypting your company’s information will make it hard for cybercriminals to decrypt it, even if they get access to it. In order to prevent spear phishing, you should encrypt the following assets:
- Hard drive and external storage
- Cloud storage
- Password and security questions
- Shared files with employees and third-party vendors.
You can take help from a managed file transfer tool that uses secure and advanced encryption methods to encrypt the data.
4. Use Multi-factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is a unique technique to prevent accounts from unauthorized access. Many businesses have already implemented this technique into their security postures. Besides, email platforms like Gmail also allow users to enable MFA as a safety measure.
Multi-factor authentication uses two identification techniques – a regular password and an auto-generated OTP. Using MFA on data will make it difficult for hackers to compromise systems in your organization, even if they get access to the user’s password.
5. Make Cybersecurity an Essential
Do you consider cybersecurity as an essential requirement for your organization? If not, then it’s time you start taking it seriously.
Cyber threats like spear-phishing are no jokes; they can harm your system, steal crucial information, or demand ransomware by blocking your servers. Thus, it is vital to take preventive cybersecurity measures to prevent data against spear-phishing attacks.
For instance, you can create and implement a cybersecurity policy and data breach response plan, identify potential spear-phishing targets with various threat detection techniques, and review the industry’s latest spear-phishing attacks.
And if you don’t have expertise in preventing and eliminating cyber threats, you can contact us to get the right guidance and protection against cyber attacks like spear phishing.
Spear phishing attacks have become a significant threat for companies, as attackers have become smarter in generating these attacks. Thus, implementing advanced security measures is crucial to prevent spear phishing attacks. This informative blog discussed what spear phishing is and how you can protect your data against spear-phishing attacks. If you have any queries or information related to the same, let us know in the comment section.
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