Spear phishing attacks have risen in recent years, with cybercriminals using sophisticated tools and techniques to deceive employees and businesses into turning over sensitive company and personal information.
Protecting against spear phishing attacks is crucial for businesses of all sizes, as the consequences of a successful attack can be severe. In this blog post, we will explore what spear phishing is, how it works, and tips businesses can use to protect themselves against it.
What is Spear Phishing?
Spear phishing is a directed form of phishing attack where the attacker sends a personalized email to the victim, appearing as someone the reader can trust or a respected organization. These emails look legitimate like they came from someone within the company. They will often contain wording that has a sense of urgency which will make the victim more likely to open it and take whatever desired action the cybercriminal wants.
There is a difference between regular phishing and spear phishing attacks. Regular phishing attacks are sent to large numbers of people randomly, and their content is general in tone. Spear phishing attacks are highly personalized and are designed to look like they are coming from a trusted source that knows the victim.
The goal then of spear phishing is to make the reader hand over sensitive company information like passwords, credit card and financial information, personal data, and other sensitive information. The highly personalized emails may use the reader’s real name or other personal identifiers that make the email seem legitimate and convincing.
How Does Spear Phishing Work?
Spear phishing attacks typically start with the attacker researching the victim or business they’re targeting. This might involve gathering information from social media profiles, company websites, or other publicly available sources. Once the attacker has gathered enough information, they will craft a highly personalized email that is designed to look like it is coming from a trusted source, such as a colleague, vendor, or financial institution.
The email often has a tone of urgency, such as a request to reset a password or update account information. The attacker will also include a link or attachment instructing the reader to click on or open. When the reader opens the email and clicks on any link or opens an attachment, they usually are sent to a fake website where they could be asked to input login credentials. Once they log in to the fake website, the attacker captures these credentials.
What Helps Protect Against Spear Phishing?
Protecting against spear phishing attacks requires a combination of employee training, technical solutions, and best practices. Here are some of the most effective tips businesses can use to protect themselves from spear phishing attacks.
1. Employee Awareness and Training
One of the most important steps businesses can take to protect against spear phishing attacks is to train employees to recognize the signs of a phishing email. This might include educating employees about common phishing tactics, such as using urgent language, asking for personal information, poor spelling, or the use of generic or formal salutations.
Employees should also be taught to double-check the sender’s email address and to hover over links to check where they lead before clicking on them. Businesses should set up scheduled training. Refresher lessons are needed to stay diligent. Training and keeping employees updated with the latest phishing tactics can help ensure that employees keep these phishing tactics top of mind and report any suspicious emails.
2. Multi-factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires the user to provide multiple forms of authentication before accessing an account. Authentication could include a password, a text or phone call to their mobile phone, data input into an authentication app, or even using a fingerprint or facial recognition.
This multi-step procedure can help a business from spear phishing by adding another layer of security to accounts. If the attacker were to obtain the login credentials using MFA, they would need to provide additional authentication to gain access to the account. MFA can be a powerful tool to guard access to sensitive information and accounts even if the victim unknowingly hands over information.
3. Email Authentication Protocols
DMARC, SPF, and DKIM are email authentication protocols that help prevent spear phishing attacks by verifying the authenticity of the sender’s email address. These protocols are set up by using specific techniques to verify that the email is, in fact, coming from the domain it says it is from.
DMARC is Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance and enables domain owners to define how emails should be handled if they do not pass the authentication checks.
SPF signifies Sender Policy Framework. SPF is a protocol that will check if the sender’s IP address is authorized to send an email on behalf of the domain.
DKIM is abbreviated for DomainKeys Identified Mail. To confirm the authorized sender has sent the email, DKIM adds a digital signature for confirmation.
To prevent spoofing, these email authentication protocols should be in place and will ensure that emails are coming from the trusted, real sources you expect. Using email authentication protocols will make it more difficult for cybercriminals to impersonate the sender and trick the intended into providing sensitive information.
How MX Guardian Can Help
MX Guardian specializes in email security solutions, including:
- Protection Against Spear Phishing Attacks
- Block Ransomware
- Spam Filtering
- Protection Against Zero-Day Attacks
- Stop Subscription Bombing
One of the key features of MX Guardian’s email security solutions is our use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data and potential threats. Our advanced algorithm can identify and block spear phishing emails in real time, helping to prevent attacks before they can do damage.
MX Guardian’s solutions also include email authentication protocols such as DMARC, SPF, and DKIM, which can help prevent spoofing and ensure that emails are coming from legitimate sources.
Protect Your Business Get in Touch with MX Guardian Today
By implementing methods and tools such as employee training and awareness, multi-factor authentication, email authentication protocols, and advanced threat protection solutions, businesses can help protect themselves against spear phishing attacks.
Trust MX Guardian, to ensure that your email systems are secure and protected against the growing threat of spear phishing and other malicious attacks.
MX Guardian offers customized protection plans to keep you and your business safe around-the-clock, every day. We’re compatible with popular cloud platforms such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite. Sign up today for a free full-featured 30-day trial and start protecting your business.