Spear Phishing vs General Phishing

In years gone by, phishing emails were easy to spot, laden with typos and demanding that you click a link and enter credit card details into some sloppy, amateur website. Today, phishing scams have become sophisticated and frighteningly convincing. Rather than casting out a wide net hoping to snag a few fish, cybercriminals are developing more targeted attacks that are painstakingly personalised to individuals in order to land a big catch. Businesses must stay in the know to understand how to secure their networks from hackers.

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What Is Phishing?

Phishing is a general term for a kind of social engineering attack involving the attacker posing as a legitimate entity in order to trick people into giving away sensitive information. They have traditionally been distributed to thousands or millions of people in the hopes of maximising the chances of getting a few hits. A phishing attack is a numbers game, as the chances of people taking the bait are low, so the scope of the attack has to be large to get results. Phishing attacks are one of the main dangers of emails, as this is how they are typically delivered – though they have been known to target people through phone calls, social media and SMS.

An example of phishing is the tech support scam, where an email or browser popup appears warning the target of some ‘problem’ with their computer like a virus or a data breach. It offers a link to a website to resolve the issue which may look like the real thing, but when you enter personal data you expose yourself to the criminals. They often encourage email forwarding as well, to widen the net as much as possible. It’s important to understand these attacks to learn how to secure a business network.

What Is Spear Phishing?

This form of phishing is a major threat to network security, as it is far more selective and sophisticated than traditional phishing scams. It targets members of specific organisations or groups to access critical data like staff credentials or financial data. They tend to be far more lucrative than normal phishing attacks, and perpetrators often spend much time researching their targets and planning the attack. Small businesses are often the primary target of spear phishing as attackers view them as having valuable assets but lower defences than a Fortune 500 company.

There are various similarities between phishing and spear phishing, mainly because they involve using impersonation to trick the target into giving away money or information. A conventional phishing attack is based on the principle of ‘quantity over quality’, using simple methods that are relatively easy to spot and distributing them to a large number of people. Spear phishing is more selective, targeting specific organisations or individuals to gain sensitive data, and using more sophisticated techniques to be more convincing.

Protecting Against These Types Of Attack

The cyber security UK businesses should have can defend against these attacks. It starts with educating staff about phishing scams and encouraging managers to be careful what they share on social media. All requests for money and sensitive information should go through a verification process. You should also organise procedures to be in place for the off chance that someone does take the bait, in order to mitigate any damage. It is important to know how to prevent cyber security attacks in the modern age, and different types of phishing scam are a common attack.

User One can help you safeguard your business against all forms of cybercrime, including phishing, spear phishing and other types of malicious attack. Call us on 01945 463450 to find out more.

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