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3 things you need to know about spear phishing

Spear phishing has emerged as a cunning cyber predator, lurking in the virtual shadows, ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey.

user iconReporter
Fri, 25 Aug 2023
3 things you need to know about spear phishing
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With our lives ever more inextricably linked to the digital world, it’s crucial to be aware of this insidious technique.

So, let’s delve into the world of spear phishing and uncover three key things you need to know to protect yourself and your digital assets.

1. The art of personalisation

Spear phishing is not your run-of-the-mill, generic phishing attempt. It’s the personalised, hand-crafted email from a seemingly legitimate source that makes it so dangerous. Cyber criminals invest time and effort in researching their targets, collecting information from social media, leaked databases, or previous breaches to make their attacks highly convincing.

Imagine receiving an email from your boss, addressing you by name, and discussing a project you’ve been working on. The email contains a link or attachment that appears to be related to your work. It’s easy to see how you might let your guard down in such a situation.

2. Beware of impersonations

Spear phishers often impersonate trusted entities. This could be your boss, a colleague, your bank, or even a government agency. They’re masters of deception, using official logos, email signatures, and impeccable language to mimic the real deal. ChatGPT can make the process even harder to detect, with the right prompt creating a perfectly written email that could come from anybody.

One common tactic is to create a sense of urgency. For instance, you might receive an email from your bank, warning of suspicious activity on your account and urging you to click a link to resolve the issue immediately. The urgency and the fear of losing your hard-earned money can cloud your judgment, leading you to take actions you’ll later regret.

3. Always verify before you click

The cardinal rule when it comes to spear phishing is to verify before you click. Never trust an email or message blindly, no matter how convincing it appears. If you receive an email requesting sensitive information, financial transactions, or unusual actions, you should take the following steps:

Double-check the sender’s email address: Hover over the sender’s name to see the full email address. Be wary of subtle misspellings or domains that don’t match the organisation’s official website.

Pick up the phone: If in doubt, call the supposed sender using a known phone number, not one provided in the email, to confirm the request’s legitimacy.

Stay informed: Keep yourself updated on the latest phishing tactics and educate your colleagues and family members about these threats.

Spear phishing’s personalised nature and threat actors’ skill at impersonation make it a potent danger to individuals and organisations alike. By remaining vigilant, verifying the authenticity of emails, and staying informed about evolving tactics, you can bolster your defences against this digital predator.

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