When you think about it, spear phishing is almost a good thing. It means that phishing attacks are getting more sophisticated, which means they’re harder to detect and easier to spot. They’re also much more effective than mass phishing attacks because they target specific employees as opposed to random emails to everyone in the company. A targeted attack also limits damage by focusing on individuals with access to sensitive information—which is great news for your security team and your users as well. So what can you do to protect yourself from these types of phishing attacks? Awareness is perhaps the most important step, but there are other things you can do to make sure you don’t become a victim of spear phishing
What Helps Protect From Spear Phishing?
There is no one perfect solution to prevent spear phishing attacks, but there are a few best practices that can help. Firstly, make sure your employees are aware of the dangers of spear phishing and know how to spot suspicious emails. Secondly, use email filtering and security solutions to block known spear phishing attacks. Finally, keep your software and systems up to date with the latest security patches.
Educate Your Employees
- Make sure everyone understands how to spot phishing emails. The best way to do that is to send a warning email to all employees at the beginning of each quarter that details what’s been happening in the previous quarter and what will be happening in the upcoming one. This can be done by sending a mass email or creating a security awareness video, which you can post on your intranet.
- Take advantage of information-sharing tools like Security Intelligence. Security Intelligence is a free tool that allows you to view phishing attacks reported by your users, as well as their victims and other organizations they’ve interacted with. You can also see if they’re taking advantage of insider threat programs like SIFT, which allows employees to report suspicious activity on their own without having to go through human resources or risk termination.
- Make it easy for employees to report suspicious emails and activities on their own time. It’s important for employees who see phishing messages in their inboxes not just to notify HR but also immediately stop whatever they’re doing and report the message so that it doesn’t get sent out by mistake—which could lead someone into opening an attachment or clicking on a link that leads them into an attack site.
- Don’t just rely on your security team for protection. A lot of companies are outsourcing their email security, but there are far more threats than simply spam and viruses out there today, which means it’s important to keep your employees’ eyes and ears open.
- Encourage employees to report anything that makes them uncomfortable, even if it’s not what they think is a phishing attack. While you can’t always trust the information they provide, you can still take it into consideration when deciding how to handle a situation.
- Create an environment that encourages people to speak up if they see something suspicious—like encouraging employees to use Security Intelligence, which not only allows them to report suspicious activities but also helps them feel safe doing so by providing a way for their reports to be reviewed by someone in your organization who has the authority to act on those reports quickly and effectively.
- Reward employees who report suspicious activity with points and prizes, like cash or gift cards, so that they feel encouraged to continue reporting bad activity and helping make your organization more secure. Also consider having your employees participate in security awareness programs like SIFT, which rewards them with additional points for reporting suspicious activities on their own time without being asked or threatened with termination or other repercussions if they don’t cooperate.
Use Email Authentication And Digital Signatures
Enable email authentication and digital signatures
For this, you’ll need to use a third-party email authentication service like SenderBase, which provides both an email authentication service and a digital signature service. Using these tools, you can easily implement an end-to-end security solution that verifies the sender of each of your corporate emails. You’ll also be able to ensure that the messages are not altered or replaced by someone looking to steal your data.
Educate employees on how to spot phishing attacks
The best way to protect yourself is to educate your users about spear-phishing attacks and what they should look for when reading emails from strangers asking them for sensitive information. This can include things like spelling mistakes, typos, inappropriate language, or grammar errors that might indicate someone is trying to disguise their identity by using fake names or making up other information about themselves. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, so don’t click on links in emails unless you know where they’re taking you and why.
Use spam filters
Spam filters can help identify suspicious email messages before they reach your inbox and before you open them—but only if those messages are flagged as spam by the filter before being sent out from your inbox in the first place! Google Gmail has anti-phishing filters built into its web interface and mobile apps so that users will be alerted if any suspicious emails are detected. These types of spam filters are also available on a number of other webmail providers, including Yahoo Mail.
Block phishing sites
Phishing websites can be blocked by using the “Block Malicious/Phishing” feature in your web browser (for example, Chrome). This will prevent you from visiting these sites and downloading malicious content. The same goes for mobile devices—if you have an Android phone or an Apple iPhone, you can block any websites that look like the ones listed in this post by simply tapping on them with your finger and then selecting “Block Site” from the pop-up window that appears.
Use a password manager
Using a password manager is a great way to create strong passwords for all of your online accounts and to store those passwords securely so that they aren’t stored in plain text on your hard drive or elsewhere. Password managers allow you to generate strong passwords for every site you use, store those passwords securely, and then access them quickly without typing them out every time you log in to a new site! Some of the best password managers include LastPass, RoboForm, and 1Password—just search around and choose one based on what suits your needs best!
Install And Use A Spam Filter
Install and use a spam filter
Spam filters are not perfect, but they are the most effective way to combat email spam. They can help you avoid malicious emails that try to trick you into clicking on an attachment or link. If you’re on a computer, consider installing a free email application like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail that comes with its own built-in spam filtering system. If you prefer to use your mobile device for email, it’s worth checking out an app such as Mailbox (for iOS devices) or Spark (for Android).
Use two-factor authentication (2FA)
2FA is the industry standard for protecting your account when logging in from a new device or browser. If someone tries to log in from a new device or browser, they will need both your username and password as well as an extra piece of information—a code sent via text message that you receive on your phone.
Check all links before clicking them
This is especially important if you’re using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn where it’s easy for phishing attacks to spread through links shared by friends and colleagues. Before clicking any link in these environments, make sure it’s safe to click by looking at the URL address bar and reading what it says (if possible). This can be done easily by viewing the URL address bar at the top of any web page in Safari or Chrome browsers—just tap the 3-bar icon to view it.
Don’t click links in email messages
It’s also important to be wary of links in email messages. In addition to these social media sites, you should also be wary of links in emails and other text-based communications from unknown senders. If you click on a link in an email message, it may lead you to a website that looks legitimate but is actually malicious—and similar to phishing attacks, this type of website can trick you into giving up your login credentials or clicking on other links that can steal your data.
Use strong passwords
Another way to protect yourself from phishing attacks is by using strong passwords for accounts such as your email, social media, and financial accounts. The best way to create strong passwords is by using a password manager application like LastPass or 1Password. This app automatically generates and stores strong passwords for all your accounts so you don’t have to remember them all yourself. You can also create strong passwords using an application such as KeePassXC or 1PasswordX (for Mac users). We recommend that everyone use at least one password manager application—not only do they make it easy for you to remember multiple passwords securely, but they also prevent hackers from easily cracking your password by stealing login credentials stored in the app itself (as opposed to stealing them directly from your computer). Stronger still are two-factor authentication apps like Authy which allow people to authenticate themselves from their mobile phones, and then use a second authentication mechanism to validate the authenticity of a login attempt.
Spear phishing attacks are extremely dangerous, but they can also be easy to detect and avoid when you are aware of the warning signs. You should always be suspicious of incoming emails and be careful to avoid clicking on links or downloading files from unknown sources. You should also be careful about opening emails from people and companies that you trust—fake emails can be very convincing. When you are vigilant, you can easily protect yourself from spear-phishing attacks.