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What is spear phishing?

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A phishing scam is an internet scam that is mostly related to suspicious actions made by third parties with the intention to steal your important information like bank credentials and credit card details. Through phishing scams, they send spoofing mail with some alluring or threatening subject line so that you click the scam link and log in to your account understanding it is the correct one. 

Spear phishing is a kind of electronic communication fraud is directed at a specific person, company, or organization. It is meant to steal data for harmful reasons, however, fraudsters may also think to hack the system on the PC of the person whom they’re targetting. It is specially designed to take important data from a specific person for malicious purposes. 

A fake electronic communication is specially designed to take important data from a specific person for malicious purposes. After receiving information from victims like friends, relatives, employment, location, and what they have purchased through internet shopping.

If you are confused about how to identify the symptoms of spear phishing, then reading out some of its signs and symptoms mentioned here will help you get closer to it. 

Signs and symptoms of spear phishing

1- Catchy subject line with a very promising tone

When someone shoots mail with the intention to let you take immediate action, there are chances of spear phishing. Usually, fraudsters or those with bad intentions target you by sending mail with the subject with urgent action. They target recipients who will read it and respond immediately to react to it.  You are suggested to think very carefully before clicking links mentioned in such emails. 

2- Images appear to be of very low quality

Most credible or trustworthy firms include high-quality logos and indicators in their email signatures. Cybercriminals are rarely interested in such details. Their major goal will be to deceive and assault individuals. It could be a sign of something more serious if someone receives an unsolicited email with unclear graphics. Make sure the email is authentic and legal before clicking any links in it.

3- Suspicious and unfamiliar tone

Cybercriminals indulged in spear-phishing use known contact of victims by trying to fool them into downloading some malicious virus. 

To counterattack, you need to carefully note the tone of the message, and appearance and compare it to past email matches from the same person. If you find wordings unusual, you are advised to block or avoid such email contacts.

4- Address, links, and domains differ 

To identify the effort of spear phishing, you need to keep inconsistencies that appear as false domain names, links, and email addresses. To verify the correctness of earlier communication addresses with the current email address of the sender and whether they match. Only click the URL when you are sure that the website is not fraudulent.

5- Unusual requests

When scammers or spear-phishing scammers pretend like your colleague or boss, they will usually ask you to fill out certain forms, or download a software program. Before responding to such requests, it is your duty to first examine the structure and whether it is practical with the internal processes of the company.

What provisions do Indian laws have to fight spear phishing?

Information technology Act 2000 declares spear-phishing as a punishable offense.

The following sections of the IT Act are applicable to punish different types of spear-phishing offenses:

Section 43- When a person uses someone else’s pc or pc network without the permission of the owner, disturbs, downloads or helps another person is found guilty under this section.

Section 66- This section of IPC deals with punishing who commits phishing.

Section 66A-This section deals with punishing the person who sends phishing or related information with the intention to cause damage. 

Section 66 C- This section punishes the person who dishonestly uses personal details to misuse them for identity theft.

Section 66D-The one who cheats by pretending to be another person will get minimum of three years in jail and one lakh rupees fine as punishment.

Other than this section 415, section 425, section 463, and section 107 are also applicable to spear phishing.

Protection from spear phishing

  • Learn and follow advanced policies for password management 
  • Enabling Two-factor authentication to your main account
  • Create an environment of security awareness in your organization
  • Keep your software updated 
  • Restrict the access of sensitive information for everyone
  • Create awareness programs about spear phishing, social manipulation, and cyber security
  • Monitor and measure results
  • Educate students and employees about the harmful consequences of phishing attempts

How do differentiate spear-phishing with phishing?

  • Spear phishing targets an individual, group, or company, however, phishing targets a huge list of contacts in bulk.
  • It takes lots of time to achieve spear-phishing results, however, phishing takes a short time period to send emails to different persons
  • Recognizing spear-phishing culprits is very difficult in comparison to phishing attackers
  • Spear risks are more hazardous than that phishing.
  • In spear phishing, personal messages look trusted and can’t be detected as a scam. On the contrary, phishing emails are sent in bulk, therefore contain poor quality images and spelling mistakes revealing their bad intentions.

Sum Up

Spear phishing is arranged in such a smart and well-planned way that it is very hard to trace it through traditional protection. Spear phishing attacks are dangerous as they can deploy malware to computers that form massive networks. To avoid such deadly attacks, employees need to be informed of such threats. Also, there is a need to upgrade the technology emphasizing email security.

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