Phishing is an age-old technique for obtaining credit card and login information. We have all heard about the Nigerian prince scams and other similar tactics that are used to steal information (or money) from people.

What’s becoming a new threat is the rise of spear phishing as opposed to traditional spray-and-pray phishing techniques. This sophisticated scamming is at an all-time high according to the latest research.

This means that people who are unfamiliar with spear phishing may not be able to identify a spear phishing email when they encounter it.

Keep reading to understand spear phishing and find out how to protect yourself from it.

What Is Spear Phishing?

Traditional phishing emails are generally very easy to identify. The formatting tends to look off, the body of the email is full of spelling and grammar mistakes, and the requests are usually egregious.

Pretty much anyone under the age of 70 is familiar with phishing emails and thus safe from them. Cyber attackers know this, which is why they had to come up with a more sophisticated phishing tactic.

Spear phishing is a carefully crafted email that is designed to impersonate a major company, like Amazon or Microsoft. Not only will the email appear to be coming from one of these legitimate companies, but it will also contain personal identification that a random hacker probably wouldn’t have access to.

Right? The truth is, most people think hackers can’t access personal information unless they divulge it first. While this may have been true several years ago, hackers can now use open source intelligence (OSINT) to gather personal data from their potential victims before their phishing attempts.

This is why spear phishing is such a serious issue. People are more likely to believe that a phishing email is legitimate when it contains personal information, especially when it is attached to a trustworthy tech company.

This is why spear phishing is quickly becoming one of the biggest headaches for cyber security companies. No matter how hard you try to secure and back up your data, it can all be lost thanks to one successful spear phishing attempt.

What Helps Protect From Spear Phishing?

The best way to protect from spear phishing is to be on the lookout. Keeping up with the tactics that hackers are using is a great way to prevent yourself from falling prey to them.

Follow these additional ways to protect yourself from spear phishing:

  • Update your systems and software regularly in order to have the most up-to-date security patches.
  • Update your server or cloud computing to ensure that your files are secure.
  • Take advantage of multi-step authentication.
  • Look into going passwordless. Many services, like Microsoft 365, have launched passwordless features for their accounts.
  • Make cybersecurity a priority within your company and educate employees on the potential threat of spear phishing.
  • Avoid opening suspicious emails and always double-check suspicious requests via email, even if they seem to be coming from a trustworthy source.