What is Spear Phishing?

Spear Phishing
Many of you are familiar with phishing attacks. These are emails sent by cyber criminals to millions of potential victims in an effort to steal personal information, often for financial gain. These emails often appear to come from a trusted source such as a bank or someone you may know. The message is often of an urgent nature with a link that may take you to a malicious website that will try to harvest your user name and password, or hack into and take control of your personal computer.

While phishing is effective, a new type of attack has developed called spear phishing. Unlike traditional phishing emails, spear phishing messages are highly targeted. Instead of the emails going to a large number of users, spear phishing targets a specific set of individuals, such as those who work for a particular organization or have a common interest. Often the goal of spear phishing is to gain confidential information or, in a corporate environment, trade secrets. Attackers often use social media sites such as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook as well as an organization’s website to target individuals.

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