What is Spear Phishing & How to Stop it?

Do you know what is spear phishing? You might know if you’ve used the Internet. The most common method of attack among the various phishing scams is spear phishing, which is still utilized by 65% of all known threat actors. Unfortunately, most firms’ anti-phishing strategies tend to have a weak spot in their workforce.

Not sure what is spear phishing? You’re in the right place!

Spear phishing is a targeted attack on an individual or organization. This method uses an email to persuade the recipient to reveal confidential information. It looks like an email comes from a trusted source, such as someone the victim knows and trusts.

In a spear phishing attack, criminals use social engineering techniques to carry out their attacks. They gather information about the company and its employees to create an email that seems authentic. Cybercriminals may use confidential employee data from past breaches to personalize their messages more effectively.

Spear phishing can be used for identity theft or fraud and for stealing intellectual property and other sensitive data.

How Does a Spear Phishing Attack Work?

Spear phishing attacks can be carried out in a variety of ways. Typical techniques include:

  • An email is sent to the target by a spear phisher. The email recipient may be prompted to access any malicious links or attachments, which will infect their machine with malware or demand ransom.
  • A spear phisher asks for access to social media accounts or usernames and passwords while posing as a friend, coworker, supervisor, or another reliable person to gather the information they will use to exfiltrate data elsewhere.
  • A spear phisher sends a victim an email that links to a fake website where the target is prompted to enter personal or sensitive data like PINs, login credentials, or access codes.

Spear phishing attacks are harder than traditional ones because they require more time and effort on behalf of the attacker. However, they’re also more effective because they’re personalized and targeted directly at someone within an organization (or sometimes even an individual).

The Growing Threat of Spear Phishing Attacks

Due to the difficulties of detecting spear phishing, the prevalence of remote workforces, and lax technical security, it has become the weapon of choice for cybercriminals worldwide.

According to recent data, spear phishing is becoming an increasingly serious hazard to people and businesses.

According to a survey done between August and October 2020, 87% of all spear-phishing attempts worldwide took place on business days, typically during the workweek. Attacks on Saturdays and Sundays accounted for just 13% of all attacks.

A spear-phishing assault could involve an email that appears to be from the victim’s bank or a trustworthy company like Amazon for the unwary person. The message can seem to be a shipping notice or a request for a confirmation of a transaction, alluring the reader to click a harmful link or provide sensitive personal data.

Cybercriminals also target businesses this way, frequently picking just a few employees at a particular corporation. These consumers may get a convincing email ordering them to send money, provide a password, or divulge sensitive company information, purporting to be from their boss or another company executive.

A spear-phishing email often conveys a sense of urgency in both situations. It means victims have the idea that they will suffer the most serious repercussions if prompt action is not taken.

What helps protect from Spear Phishing?

Authenticate Your Emails With DMARC

A universal standard for email authentication is DMARC. It enables senders to confirm that the email originates from the person it purports to be from. This helps reduce spam and spear phishing attempts, two of today’s most common cybercrimes. In recent years, DMARC has been deployed, and its advantages have been lauded by Gmail, Yahoo, and numerous other big email providers.

How Does DMARC Stop Spear Phishing?

A DMARC policy mode of p=reject can be a useful tool in the fight against a variety of online threats, such as email phishing and direct-domain spoofing.

DMARC aids in email origin verification and prevents the receipt and opening of fake emails. But in practice, only a small percentage of companies have followed the protocol, and even fewer have done so successfully.

To make implementation and monitoring a no-brainer for domain owners, the recommended practice is to configure a DMARC Analyzer. It helps you gain complete insight into your email channels, a major benefit of DMARC. Earlier, firms could learn about phishing attacks only after one had already occurred. DMARC makes it possible to prevent attacks before their inception through constant source verification and monitoring. Customers can be alerted about these attacks thanks to DMARC reports.

Additionally, by adding your distinctive brand logo to separate outgoing emails sent to your clients while you are on p=reject, you may take advantage of BIMI visual identification features.

Keep All Your Softwares Updated

The best way to protect against malicious software (malware) is to install the latest security updates for your operating system and applications. Security patches will fix any known security flaws in the software, so you must keep up with them.

Educate Your Employees About Spear Phishing

Training your employees on identifying and avoiding spear phishing attacks is key in preventing someone from falling victim to one. For example, teaching them what a legitimate email looks like versus an illegitimate one can help them spot potential red flags. You should also teach them how to report suspicious emails or phone calls so they know what action to take if they suspect something might be amiss.

Minimize Password Usage

Passwords are often used in the initial attack phase of a spear phishing campaign, so it’s important to minimize their use as much as possible. This can be done using multifactor authentication or restricting access based on device type or location.

Create a Security-centric Culture

Security must be ingrained into every employee’s daily routine if you hope to thwart spear phishers’ attempts to access sensitive data or resources. Employees should be encouraged to report suspicious emails and ask about any unusual requests for information from outside parties. The more people who know what signs to look out for, the better your organization can avoid them altogether.

Wrapping Up

So now you know what spear phishing is, how it works, and the preventive measures you can take to avoid it. In short, spear phishing is tailored phishing. It’s a carefully crafted attempt at fooling you into giving up information. What makes it even more dangerous is that it appears to have come from someone you know and trust, not some random spammer.

The best way to avoid being victimized by this type of cyber attack is to be on the lookout for any messages that look suspicious. Always verify the originator before sharing anything confidential or personal with them. Also, authenticate your emails with tools like DMARC.