We have anti-virus software and anti-malware software to protect us while we surf the Internet. Because these applications have become more sophisticated, computer hackers are becoming more sophisticated in the way they attack us regular users. While computer support professionals can help you defend your computer against attacks, phishing, and the latest development, spear phishing are not technical issues that anyone can help you with. In this article, we look at phishing, and more importantly, spear phishing, both, which are on the rise.
- Phishing and Spear Phishing. Most of us know of the emails that claim to come from a Nigerian prince or someone of the like who needs our help getting many millions of dollars out of a bank account. But what happens when an email comes from a company or person you know? Phishing is when an email comes from what seems to be a friendly source. Spear phishing is even more sophisticated. It may appear to be an email that comes from someone very close to you, someone like your boss or even a relative.
- Turning Into a Major Problem. According to major security and technology firms, spear phishing which is proliferating at amazing rates, is becoming a serious problem for all internet users. Only this week, Google stated this strategy was used to attack hundreds of important Gmail accounts in the US.
- Highly Targeted. Spear phishing attacks are very skilful in the way they can convince you they are from a legitimate source. You may think you are receiving a genuine email from a trusted supplier, bank, company or even colleague. Once you click on the link, or reply to the message, the email will be asking you for specific information. It may even send you to a website that looks exactly like your bank account login page, when it is not. Your information is harvested as you attempt to login normally.
- How to Avoid. Even the best computer repairs and support professionals can only give you advice on how to deal with this threat. The number one rule that applies to any attack of this type is this; no credible company would ever contact you and ask you to login or enter any details. There is no real technology that can be used to identify this kind of email. There are some payment providers that are using verified email technology, which aids in the identification of their emails. eBay in Australia, is one company that has been extensively abused through spear phishing and have developed email identification measures. This still does not mean you should trust every email you get. Your only option is to carefully read and know, if someone is asking you to do something, or to add to your account, then it is probably a phishing attack. Remember, most of these emails are trying to get either your email account information or your banking and credit card information. Therefore, these emails are normally related to either of these.
Spear phishing is becoming so common place, and the tactics are becoming more sophisticated, with emails looking increasingly professional and reasonable. Never respond to any email, even if it looks legitimate. Your bank, your employer, your supplier, would never ask you for any particular information. Spear phishing is not hacking of your computer, but it is hacking of your common sense.
Author Bio: Tom Mallet is an Australian freelance writer and journalist. He writes extensively in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. He’s published more than 500 articles about various topics, including computer support and computer repairs.