Even if someone did not know the term spear-phishing, they certainly have heard of this type of attacks. Spear-phishing is a technique based on falsifying the email messages (or other electronical messages) to extort the sensitive data. Even the people that are aware of many threats occurring in the Internet can become the victims of these insidious messages.
Who is exposed to spear-phishing?
Cybercriminals usually attack huge corporations. This is why these companies take great care of educating their employees on the subject of safe web browsing. Spear-phishing attacks often take the form of emails from customer service departments, that consist a request for a password change. The messages can be also sent from false email addresses (created in line with employees’ email addresses). The main goal of the attacks is to gain an access to sensitive data of the clients or other employees.
What techniques, that threaten data protection, are used by cybercriminals?
Cybercriminals usually take time to do a thorough research on their future victims. They want their traps to be personalized and trustworthy. The number of the accounts, that are attacked at the same time, rarely outreaches 10. Because of this, the spam filters are not able to detect the malicious software – for every 5 attacks, that are identified by spam filters, 20 end up in the user’s inbox.
The attacks are becoming more refined and creative. Due to the solid preparations and research on the company’s resources, cybercriminals are able to create messages, that resemble authentic correspondence inside the company. These kinds of messages can very often relate to the current events in the company.
The threat of attacks in the cyberspace — how to ensure the information security?
To deal with spear-phishing, the businesses are turning to the special kind of software, that detects the attacks. Usually though, the attackers have an access to these solutions as well. They get familiar with the algorithm and learn, how to avoid it. Because of it, the tools, that use machine learning, are getting more attention. They actively scan and flag suspicious emails and at the same time they store and learn how to prevent these attacks. That gives the IT professionals the ability to predict and prevent the attacks.
We shouldn’t rely merely on the software. We should spread awareness of the threat of email attacks and phishing sensitive data among computer users. Here are some tips, that should become the habits of employees:
- verification of suspicious emails – if you get a message with a request of sharing a sensitive data from one of your co-workers, call them (or verify their identity through another communication channel);
- after receiving a mail with a request for password change, do not click on the included link – recommended way to change the password is to go directly to the company’s website mentioned in the message;
- do not send your passwords, credit card details or national identification number via email;
- do not click on the links embedded in emails, that do not have any other content or information or appear suspicious.
Unfortunately, it does not matter, how careful we will be while browsing the network – the spear-phishing attacks will intensify and become more intelligent. Often, our behavior is automated, we act in a hurry – all it takes is one click and we fall into the trap of a hacker. This is why it is important to apply the aforementioned steps to prevent the data loss.