Whaling Cyber Awareness

Whaling—spear phishing—is a cyber crime involving convincing a high-value target (HVT) to click on malicious links or open a malicious file to gain access to the HVT’s computer and sensitive data.

Have you ever heard of cyber whales?

It’s not a term your average person bandied about. The chances are that you didn’t unless you are a hacker or part of the security industry. Your average Joe would have no idea what it meant. That is until now because we are going to tell you what is whaling cyber awareness!

Whaling in Cybersecurity: What’s That?

Whaling is a form of phishing that targets high-level executives. It’s designed to trick them into giving up corporate information such as passwords and account numbers. Whaling attacks are often a part of larger cyberattacks, such as data breaches or ransomware attacks, but they can also be used independently.

Whaling attacks can be used to:

  • Steal sensitive data from companies’ networks
  • Gain access to sensitive systems within the network (for example, those with financial details)
  • Use compromised credentials for malicious activity on victims’ computers

What is Whaling Cyber Awareness?

“Whaling” is a type of phishing attack that targets high-level executives and other individuals within an organization who hold sensitive information. These attacks are often more sophisticated and more difficult to detect than traditional phishing scams, which typically target a large number of individuals with a generic message.

A “whaling attack” is a term use to describe a spear phishing attack that is directed specifically at a high-profile target, such as a CEO, CFO, or other high-level executive. The attacker will often research the target and craft a message that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a senior member of the organization or a trusted business partner, in an attempt to trick the target into providing sensitive information or transferring money.

“Cyber awareness” refers to the understanding and knowledge of the various types of cyber threats and the measures that can be taken to protect against them. This includes understanding the risks associated with using the internet and other digital technologies, as well as knowing how to identify and respond to potential cyber attacks. 

In the context of whaling, cyber awareness would include understanding the specific tactics and methods used in these types of attacks, as well as knowing how to recognize and respond to suspicious messages that appear to be from high-level executives within the organization.

Therefore Whaling Cyber awareness is the awareness of this specific type of threat, how to identify and prevent it.

What is the Whaling Cyber Awareness Challenge?

Whaling Cyber Awareness Challenge is a unique program that combines technology, education, and hands-on experience. The US Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the American Computer Society (ACS) developed the program with funding from the Department of State’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program (ATA).

The Whaling Cyber Awareness Challenge is designed to teach participants about cybercrime, how to protect themselves online, and how to recognize when they’ve been targeted for malicious activity.

4 Modules of Whaling Cyber Awareness Challenge

The challenge consists of four modules:

Targeted Attacks

In this module, students learn about the types of attacks used in whaling, the different types of attackers, and the types of social engineering attacks they use. They also learn about the most common targets for whaling attacks: businesses, government agencies, and individuals.


In this module, students learn how to recognize common signs of a whaling attack and how to respond if someone tries to impersonate them or their organization through social engineering techniques. Also, they learn about common security mistakes that can lead to successful whaling attempts, as well as tips for protecting yourself from identity theft.


This module investigates attempted whaling attacks so law enforcement agencies can take appropriate action against the criminals responsible for these crimes. You will also learn about the legal issues surrounding cyber security investigations and how these investigations are conducted by law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Legal Issues 

An investigation into an attack that did not happen but might have happened if certain conditions had been met. The goal is to consider some legal issues that could arise from such an attack and how law enforcement agencies or other governmental entities might address them.

What are the Methods of Protection from Whaling Cyber Awareness Attacks?

There are several methods that businesses can use to protect themselves from whaling cyberawareness attacks:

  • Employee education and training: Ensuring that employees are aware of the risks of whaling attacks and how to recognize and avoid them can be an effective way to prevent these attacks.
  • Two-factor authentication: Requiring an additional form of authentication, such as a one-time code sent to a phone or email, can help to prevent unauthorized access to accounts.
  • Strong passwords: Using strong, unique passwords for all accounts can make it more difficult for attackers to gain access.
  • Email filtering: Implementing email filtering to block suspicious emails or to flag them for review can help to prevent employees from falling victim to phishing attacks.
  • Use of security software: Using security software such as antivirus and firewall protection can help to prevent malware infections and other security breaches.
  • Regular software updates: Ensuring that all software is kept up to date with the latest patches and security updates can help to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited.
  • Strong network security: Implementing strong network security measures such as network segmentation and access controls can help to prevent unauthorized access to corporate networks.
  • Incident response plan: Having a plan in place for responding to security incidents can help to minimize the impact of a whaling attack and allow for a more rapid recovery.

Make DMARC a part of your Whaling Cyber Awareness Agenda 

You can set up DMARC to restrict the delivery of messages from your domain that don’t comply with your DMARC policy. This helps protect your organization from phishing scams, where fraudsters impersonate your brand in order to steal money or sensitive data.

DMARC provides several benefits:

  • It enables you to reject email that fails SPF or DKIM checks (indicating spoofing).
  • It allows you to require Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) authentication for all outbound email sent from your domain.
  • It provides a mechanism by which you can stop spoofed emails from being delivered to the recipient’s inbox.

Final Words

We hope you learned a thing or two from this guide about what is whaling cyber awareness and that it’s been useful in giving you an overview of the cyber security market. Of course, there are many more aspects you could focus on when approaching cyber security from a business perspective. Still, we covered some of the basics here to help get your mindset headed in the right direction for your cyber security plan.

For more details, reach out to the experts at PowerDMARC and learn more about cyber awareness whaling and general email security and authentication practices!

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