Spear phishing, if executed in the right way, can be more dangerous than all the malware in the world combined.
What exactly is it and what can you do to protect yourself and your business from it? Keep on reading to find out!
What is Phishing?
“Normal” phishing is when a cybercriminal tries to fool the victim into either infecting himself with malware, or to provide his login credentials for a social media, banking website, or anything.
They usually send these emails to multiple random people at once, hoping that someone will fall into the trap.
That trap is usually an extremely obvious one. More often than not, they look like “CLICK HERE TO OBTAIN 1 MILLION DOLLARS” and stuff like that.
They make the phishing emails in that way because they want to make sure that only extremely naïve people will come to them. People who are more likely to provide their information compared to others.
What is Spear Phishing?
Spear phishing has more or less the same target with your average phishing. The difference is that the emails are targeted towards very specific people or organizations and are tailored specifically for them.
Cybercriminals who work with spear phishing try to analyze their target and obtain as much information from them as possible and use it against them.
For example, they can use names and company roles to make themselves appear as an inside member of the company when sending an email.
Something like “Hey, can you check this invoice? John. P!” or anything like that. Spear phishing emails are tailored in such a way that they look legitimate. Which is why they are so much more dangerous than your average phishing email.
These emails can be utilized for anything from obtaining info to stealing files and asking for a ransom like the Ransomware malware does.
How to Protect a Business from Spear Phishing
All in all, there are 5 simple steps to follow that will help your business survive a spear phishing attack:
1. Keep your employees informed
2. Use a security configuration
3. Use a VPN
4. Encrypt your important files
5. Keep backups
Keep your Employees Informed
The first layer of computer security is the PC user. If your employees know what’s up with spear phishing, then they’ll always be more alert and suspicious.
This, in return, highly increases the chances of surviving a spear phishing attack. And you don’t have to be too specific. A 10-minute lecture could be enough to cover the basics.
Do also try to confirm that the emails from insiders are legitimate. You never know when someone will try to impersonate one of your employees.
Use a Security Configuration
As mentioned before, cybercriminals can use malware such as keyloggers or Ransomware to steal important information or files from your business.
Security programs are lifesavers in this kind of situation. The ideal configuration is using one Antivirus and one Anti-Malware on each computer.
That’s because the two of them detect different kinds of threats. Using two Antivirus programs or two Anti-Malware ones is not recommended. That could cause slowdowns and interference.
It’s advised to go for licenses which offer the program for multiple computers at once. It’s much better than buying single licenses for each computer due to the smaller cost.
Use a VPN
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s a great way to encrypt all of your network traffic.
If you pick a good VPN provider, then absolutely no one will be able to spy on your network activities.
In fact, even the government and your ISP will have a rough time. Imagine how hard it’ll be for a common cyber criminal to step in.
Because of that, VPNs provide a safer, more private web experience. And that’s extra useful in cases where sensitive data is being transferred back and forth.
Encrypt Important Files
Encrypting your files will make so that they won’t be accessible to anyone who doesn’t have the decryption key.
In that way, if someone steals your files, he won’t be able to have access to them. They will be completely useless unless he also gets his hands on the decryption keys.
There are decryption programs that can decrypt encrypted files. But, more often than not, they won’t work. Encryption is nothing to laugh about.
Keeping backups is an effective way of safekeeping your files. If you get attacked and you kept backups, then you now have the chance to figure out how the cybercriminal got in, change your passwords, restore your files, and keep on working like nothing ever happened.
Again, you don’t necessarily have to backup everything. You can usually get away with backing up your important files only.
However, if you can afford to literally backup everything, it might not be a bad idea. Better safe than sorry right?