In this article, I discussed what spear phishing is and the danger it poses to an individual’s or business’s private and confidential information. In short, it is someone who attempts to learn your day to day activities and then utilizes the information by emailing or messaging you in hopes of getting you to reveal a password or account number for which they can exploit. Thankfully there are a few ways you can protect yourself from these attacks.
Use Email Logic
When it comes to an email from friends asking for information out of the blue that they have no business asking for, they are probably a thief trying to con you. Friends and businesses alike will rarely ask you for your personal information, and if they do you’ll want to call them directly and get to the bottom of it.
Utilize Strong Passwords
If you are using a password that a toddler can speak, such as “1234” or your dog’s name, “PeanutButter”, you definitely need a stronger password. Unfortunately strong passwords should be difficult for even you to remember, in which case consider a password management system like LastPass (#sponsor). They will give you strong passwords and then keep them in a vault, so you don’t have to remember anything except for the main entry password.
Be Wary Of Links Within Emails
If you carelessly open emails and click on random links, you could be setting yourself up for an attack. Certain links might download malicious codes or malware onto your devices, or they might take you somewhere else that will have you fill in personal information. This information can be used by attackers to get into accounts such as your bank or credit card organizations. Hover over the link with your mouse. If the URL that pops up doesn’t match the organization it’s suspicious. Go directly to your bank’s site and go from there. Being paranoid here is a good thing.
Whether you are a business or the average Jill looking to protect your online life, consider purchasing email protection. Many email companies have a certain amount of built-in protection. Remember your spam folder? But for further protection there are different companies that can provide this service, essentially they scan your email for threats and will filter the bad emails out or notify you of suspicious activity.
Beware Of More Than Just Email
Unfortunately, spear phishing can also be utilized through other avenues like text messages or direct messaging. Question text messages and other messaging platforms the same as you would with email.
Most spear phishing attacks can be thwarted by good old fashioned vigilance. You are the first line of defense. Learn to recognize questionable messages and emails and you won’t be a target.
Photo by Pietro Jeng on Unsplash