Phishing attacks are on the rise. According to a study conducted by Wombat Security, over three in four U.S. businesses have suffered a phishing attack. While there are several types of phishing attacks, spear phishing is one of the most common. As a result, you should familiarize yourself with spear phishing so that you can take the necessary precautions to safeguard your business’s sensitive information from it.

Overview of Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is a cyber threat that involves manipulating employees or other individuals in a business into divulging sensitive information. Like other forms of phishing, it’s used to trick a business’s employees into providing sensitive information to the hacker behind the attack.

So, what’s the difference between spear phishing and other forms of phishing? Phishing attacks are often classified as either “bulk” or “spear,” depending on their level of preparation. Bulk phishing is a more general form of phishing in which a hacker spends little on time researching the target victim. In comparison, spear phishing is a more focused form of phishing in which the hacker thoroughly researches the target victim before conducting the attack.

Why Spear Phishing Is a Problem

Spear phishing is problematic for several reasons. First, spear phishing attacks often bypass conventional cybersecurity measures. While anti-virus software may catch instances of malware or viruses, they may fail to catch a spear phishing email.

Second, spear phishing can have disastrous consequences for businesses. An employee, for instance, could unknowingly provide a hacker with the login credentials to your business’s bank account. The hacker may then attempt to siphon funds from the account, or he or she may simply sell that information on the black market to the highest bidder

How to Protect Against Spear Phishing

While spear phishing attacks aren’t expected to fade anytime soon, there are steps you can take to protect your business from them. If you use email — which most people and businesses do these days — beware of both links and file attachments. Even if a link or file attachment looks legitimate, it could be part of a spear phishing attack.

Perhaps the most important tip to protect against spear phishing is to verify requests for sensitive information. If someone calls or emails you asking for sensitive information, contact that person using a different method of communication to verify the request. By taking a few basic precautions, you can protect your business from spear phishing attacks.

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