What Is Spear Phishing in Cyber Security, and How Can You Protect Your Business?

The more we conduct business online, the more essential cyber security becomes. When hackers breach security measures, the consequences can include identity theft, reputational damage, data loss, and increased costs.

You may have heard of phishing, but what is spear phishing in cyber security? Here, we discuss what spear phishing is, its potential consequences for your business, and how to protect yourself against it — Gilsbar offers tailored cyber liability policies for robust protection.

What You Need To Know About Spear Phishing Attacks

All types of phishing attacks are attempts by cybercriminals to steal sensitive data and personal information. Typically, they come in the form of emails, texts, or phone calls that look like they are from reputable companies. The goal is to trick individuals into installing malware or revealing confidential data, such as passwords, usernames, and credit card numbers.

Spear phishing, however, represents a more potent, sophisticated, and potentially dangerous version of this common type of cyber-attack.

What Is Spear Phishing in Cyber Security?

As the name suggests, spear phishing is a more precise kind of phishing. Rather than casting a large net by sending out a generic email and hoping someone will bite, spear phishing takes a more personalized approach.

Spear phishers target specific individuals or groups within an organization. As an intended victim, you may receive an email (with an attachment) containing identifying details like your name, company, and job title. Because these emails create a sense of familiarity, they lower your defenses and increase the chances you will open the attachment or click on malicious links. 

How Does Spear Phishing Work?

Successful spear phishing requires more effort than typical phishing campaigns. Cybercriminals scour the internet and social media to find details about the intended target. In doing so, they may locate a frightening amount of information: email addresses, phone numbers, names of friends and family, establishments you visit, where you shop, where you work, and even where you bank.  

Because they involve more effort, spear phishing campaigns typically attack targets with a perceived higher value. For example, they may select inexperienced employees (who more easily fall for such scams) or the payroll department (which has access to confidential information). The scammers may seek to acquire sensitive corporate data, financial details, or even direct money transfers.  

How Can I Prevent Spear Phishing From Harming My Business?

Knowing the answer to “What is spear phishing in cyber security?” is only half of the equation. You must also know how to prevent these attacks from harming your business.

Because of their high level of sophistication, spear phishing attacks are difficult to detect. However, you can improve your awareness and your readiness by taking the following steps:

Know the Signs: Be wary of emails that use forceful language, create a sense of urgency, or use scare tactics. Also, stay alert for small but noticeable errors in spelling, domain names, or link formats. Finally, watch out for emails with unsolicited attachments, direct requests for personal information, and questionable pretexts (like a delayed package or expiring login credentials).

Boost Security Protocols: Your business should take spear phishing seriously. Provide employee training on how to recognize and react to such scams. Ensure your IT team implements specialized tools, like anti-virus software, multi-factor or biometric authentication, and virtual private networks (VPNs) where appropriate. When you do detect computer-related crime, report it to law enforcement.

Invest in Cyber Liability Insurance: Thanks to the sheer amount of information online and increasingly advanced technology — including AI, which helps scam emails sound more natural — it’s not always possible to detect spear phishing when it occurs. To protect your business, consider purchasing a cyber insurance policy. 

Protect Yourself From Spear Phishing With Cyber Insurance

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is spear phishing in cyber security?” isn’t it time to guard your company against it? Gilsbar offers insurance policies to protect you from some of the worst cyber threats around. Call today (985) 892-3520 to speak with a specialist.