Spearphishing is a type of phishing attack which is targeted towards a specific individual, group of individuals or business as opposed to mass-phishing campaigns that target thousands of victims. Spearphishing emails are often designed to steal specific data, or install malware on the target’s computer or device.
Spear phishing attacks are not usually initiated by random cybercriminals, but rather, are more specific to the victim, and are more likely to be conducted by cybercriminals seeking financial and intellectual property gain.
Social engineering refers to a broad range of malicious methods of tricking, manipulating and exploiting people into performing actions or divulging sensitive information they otherwise wouldn’t.
Rather than breaking into a system through the use of a technical flaw, a social engineer would use techniques such as phishing or spear-phishing to lure their target into completing their desired action.
Social engineering attacks can be both targeted towards a specific individual, as well as generic.
Phishing is like fishing, hence the name. The attacker lures their target with bait, often by sending out disingenuous emails to a group of people, and waits for the victim to get hooked. Once hooked, the attacker can trick the victim into divulging sensitive information or carrying out an unintended action by posing as a legitimate and trustworthy entity. It’s also not like fishing, which refers to a harmless pastime.
1st December 2020 – Startup company PhishDeck released its Software as a Service (SaaS) based phishing simulation platform. PhishDeck allows users to quickly and easily simulate advanced real time phishing attacks.
Phishing and social engineering attacks remain major security challenges that organizations face regardless of their size. Like any other challenge in cybersecurity, there are no silver bullets to protect organizations against phishing—had there been, a 2020 survey by the Ponemon Institute would not have cited 51% of IT professionals having experienced a phishing attack.