in Blog, Cyber Security

What Is Meant By Spear Phishing? How to Prevent It?

Spear phishing attacks are continuously adding popularity among the cybercriminals and individuals. Along with businesses and individual must take essentials steps to remain secure and protected from the risk of getting their sensitive information stolen.

Spear phishing attacks are risky and unsafe as they are mainly designed to get around traditional email security such as spam filters. They typically do not include any malicious links or any attachment’s but do use spoofing techniques and zero-day links which combine with social engineering tactics and are not likely to be blocked.

In this article, we will discuss the tips by which you can avoid spear phishing. But before that, we will you an insight about what spear phishing is. Let’s find out.

What is Spear Phishing?

Spear phishing is an email spoofing attack which is aimed towards an individual or cooperation to steal sensitive data. It can be your financial information or account details.

Cyber-attackers can use it to install malware on the targeted system. The spear phishing attack is different from a regular phishing attack. The spear phishing emails look as if they have come from any friend or any other legitimate source like Google, PayPal, and more.

In spear phishing, an email arrives from any reliable source which will lead to some fake website. It will also ask you to tell some confidential information or download software.

Spear phishing is a personalized email attack in which a hacker searchers their target and create message often designed to intimate a trusted colleague or business to steal sensitive information which is later used to commit crimes like identity theft and fraud.

According to Network Work, 95% of business security breaches are due to spear phishing. Not just small but big enterprises also fall victim to such attacks. The famous CNN spear phishing hack is a real-time example of how everyone is vulnerable to these kinds of threats.

Eight Tips to Avoid Spear Phishing:

The phishing attacks are prevalent nowadays. As the cybercriminals make much profit from these scams so, there’s a valid reason that these attacks will continue to happen. But there be some strategies which should be adopted to prevent such attacks.

Preventing spear phishing attacks means that you need to deploy a combination of technology and user security training.

Now, we will discuss the best ways individuals and businesses should consider to prevent spear-phishing attacks.

Encrypt Sensitive Information:

Encryption is among the best ways to protect yourself from falling victim to scams like spear-phishing. Once you encrypt your sensitive information, you make sure that only authorized people can have access to your data.

You can encrypt your on-device data with Full Disk Encryption. Secondly, you can also use encrypted drives to secure your data. You can sign up for a VPN while using the internet for encrypting internet traffic. In this way, your data remains protected even if you are hijacked.

When you use the right tool so, the files you send to your system, cloud environment, and any other remote location will be secured, making it incredibly impossible for anyone to decrypt it.

For encryption, you can also use MFT (managed file transfer software) as it encrypts data and files both at rest and in transit by using the latest and secure methods of encryption. A good MFT software will help you to ensure that you stay updated as encryption standards changes with time.

Take Benefit of Artificial Intelligence:

You can take advantage of AI to prevent spear-phishing attacks. All you need to do is implement an AI system which blocks spear phishing attacks and tries like brand impersonation and business email compromise.

Machine learning can also be used to analyze data and find out about the patterns out of it. Hence, by using complex AI algorithms, machine learning can be used to find out patterns. Also, it can recognize differences which might result in an attack.

Artificial intelligence, when combined with powerful glitch identification algorithms, can help limit the outspread of spear phishing attacks.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication:

By enabling multi-factor authentication, you can easily prevent spear phishing attacks. It is because multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your information.

Nowadays, many businesses are adopting this technology. Famous sites like Google are already providing two-step verification to all its users. Thus, if an attacker or hacker has any information regarding you so, they first need to pass another level of security.

The multi-factor authentication needs at least two pieces of identification. Moreover, it can be a randomly generated token or a new login. All you required is to execute it where possible, and you will have an additional layer of security.

Regularly Update Your System:

Updating your system is essential to prevent spear-phishing attacks. Always ensure that you are on the newest version of the operating system. If you are Windows users so, Microsoft will ever worry about your user security. They are always looking for ways to update your security patches, so your safety is not compromised.

Security patches are essential because they identify the latest phishing technique and protect you from falling the victim of those attacks. Thus, always make sure that your system is updated and also install security patches where needed.

Verify Website’s SSL Authorizations:

It is imperative to verify your website’s SSL authorizations to prevent spear-phishing attacks. It means that when you visit any site ensure that it starts with ‘’https’’. The SSL credentials assure that the data will be sent over the internet in an encrypted form.

Furthermore, not to fill out your passwords and any other private information on a website which don’t have a valid SSL certificate. Most of the time, people don’t bother to check out SSL certificates while they provide their information on a form. For this, reason, they fall victim to all these scams.

Thus, it is necessary to check the links you visit and stay updated about the latest spear phishing techniques. By being careful about the SSL credentials, you can prevent spear phishing attacks.

Enforce DMARC Authentication:

DMARC means Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance. By enforcing DMARC, you can prevent spear phishing attacks.

This technology depends on the established Sender Policy Framework, and Domain Keys Identified Mail standards for email authentication. The technique identifies the email against the database, and if no records are found from the sender email so, it automatically dismisses the email.

All the popular email providers like AOL, Google, and Yahoo uses this technology to ensure that any fake and spoofed email doesn’t reach the users.

Confirm Before Taking Any Action:

If you receive any doubtful email from a trusted source, but in reality, you are not sure if it came from them so, there is no need to open that email.

If you are unsure about an email sender, send the sender a separate email and confirm if that person sends it or not.

Once it is confirmed, then you can decide if you want to open the email or delete it.

Educate Employees:

Reports suggest that more than 90% of cyber-attacks are active because of the employee’s error. However, it is a matter of the fact that human error is preventable with some training and education.

To prevent spear phishing attacks, it is vital to educate your employees. Inform and aware them about the reality of phishing attacks. Allocate 15 minutes from your company meeting to train your staff on what spear phishing attacks look like, what they intend to do, and how to encounter them. Also, you can also document a guide and make it available on your network.

Moreover, remember that more opportunities your employees will have to learn about spear phishing and other related scams, the more they will be prepared to encounter and deal if they find something doubtful.

Conclusion:

To sum up all, spear phishing has the power to make enormous profits for cybercriminals. The threat of spear phishing continues to increase each passing day because of its beneficial nature.

The spear phishing attacks almost every day, but they aren’t any security concern if you have already plan and prepare yourself and your organization of how to tackle these attacks.

By using the appropriate tools, educating your employees, encrypting your data, and by adopting other preventive strategies, you can keep your and your organization’s data safe from spear phishing attacks.

The tips mentioned above are useful in combating spear phishing attacks. It is highly advisable to practice and adopt these tips and strategies to get rid of spear phishing attacks.

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