Phishing is among the oldest tricks online scammers have in their wheelhouse. This time-tested con entails tricking people into sharing personal information which is often financial in nature. More often than not, phishers attempt to extract this information via email, although text message-based phishing (a.k.a. smishing) has become more popular in recent years. Traditional phishing scams tend to target large groups of people in the hope that a handful of them will give up the goods. Conversely, spear phishing is a more personalized variant of traditional phishing. Spear phishing scams often target specific individuals, and the people behind them typically collect info on targets before attempting to reel them in. Since these scams are more difficult to spot than traditional phishes, it’s in the best interest of security-conscious internet users to read up on some of their most common varieties.
Since a sizable percentage of PayPal users’ accounts are linked directly to their personal bank accounts, there’s little wonder as to why they’re such a popular target for spear phishers. After ascertaining a wide range of personal information about targets from social media and various online profiles, sphere phishers will contact them about exclusive offers they know will be of interest to them. These emails and text messages will be accompanied by links that appear to take them to PayPal’s home page, where they will be expected to provide their username and password. Once this information has been supplied, spear phishers will have access to your PayPal funds and possibly even your personal bank account. For this reason – and many others – it’s strongly recommended that you abstain from clicking on links found in emails and texts, regardless of how legitimate they appear to be.
As the world’s largest online retailer, it would be impossible for Amazon to escape the gaze of dedicated cybercriminals. Sphere phishing-oriented Amazon scams function in much the same manner as the previously discussed PayPal scams. Targets will receive personalized emails inviting them to take advantage of special offers on products the scammers know will interest them. The website to which the attached link directs you will bear a very strong resemblance to the actual Amazon homepage, thus adding an air of authenticity to the offer. However, this site is nothing but a convincing fake, and after providing your username and password, you will have given the phishers exactly what they want.
Spear phishers frequently have website owners in their sights. Since high-traffic sites can be used to spread various forms of malicious software, phishers often contact website owners with proposals for ad space purchases. Upon clicking these ads, visitors will be redirected to malware-laden web pages, enabling the scammers to expand their influence exponentially. Having collected personal information on their targets, phishers try to entice site owners into hosting ads for products and services they claim will resonate with the site’s target audience. Site owners can keep these crooks at bay by outfitting their websites with effective cyber security apparatuses and carefully vetting prospective advertisers. A helpful SiteLock review can teach you all about cloud-based solutions.
Spear phishers commonly target business owners, as well as people who work for prominent companies. Gaining access to the financial data of a multinational corporation is a dream come true for many cybercriminals, and they’ve had a number of notable successes on this front in recent years. As such, it’s particularly important for people on all rungs of the corporate ladder to avoid clicking on links or attachments found in emails and text messages. Sphere phishers will often try to fool corporate targets by claiming to be higher-ups within the company or big-name clients, which is why prospective targets should never take any link or attachment-laden messages at face value.
Phishing has been a favorite scam of cybercriminals for almost two decades. Despite how obvious many phishing scams appear to be, enough people continue falling for them to make them worth criminals’ time. After all, even if 99 percent of a phisher’s targets are unreceptive, the remaining one percent can still make the scam a worthwhile endeavor. Because spear phishing schemes are more personalized than traditional phishing expeditions, a target’s odds of falling for one are considerably higher. Sure, it’s easy to avoid falling for certain online scams, but when a personal touch is involved, your inner fraud detector may not go off in time.