The majority of major cyberattacks and data breaches that you hear about are rooted in one specific phishing technique: spear phishing. That’s because it’s a highly effective way for cybercriminals to trick people into giving up sensitive information like passwords. Tech Republic reported that 74% of organizations in the United States have fallen victim to a successful phishing attack including spear phishing in the last 12 months. This is 30% higher than the global average and 14% higher than in 2020. So, what is spear phishing and what helps protect from spear phishing? Let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of this dangerous threat and how to beat it.
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What is Spear Phishing?
By far the largest slice of the phishing pie, spear phishing is a type of phishing attack that uses customized content and details to lure the target into a false sense of security. Bad actors may use information gathered from publicly available sources, social media and dark web data dumps to create an email that will be especially enticing and appear legitimate to the target. They can also use information about people and companies that was obtained in past breaches and sold in bustling dark web data markets.
Designed with maximum appeal to the target, a spear phishing email may use highly personal, detailed information or targeting. Bad actors may masquerade as government agencies, other reputable businesses or service providers, retailers, employment agencies, charitable organizations or even something as specialized as the target’s alma mater in order to lull the victim into a false sense of security that will then drive them to take action by interacting with the message.
Spear phishing relies heavily on social engineering and is generally considered the most sophisticated phishing attack type. It can be extremely tricky to spot even for employees with high cybersecurity savvy. As in any area of expertise, there are plenty of unskilled players at the table too, and even their attacks can be very enticing. Business email compromise (BEC), CEO fraud, whaling and other people-based cyberattacks all employ spear phishing techniques. This is the most common technique used to distribute ransomware.
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Why is it Important to Protect from Spear Phishing?
It is essential to protect from spear phishing if you want to protect your business from today’s nastiest and most expensive cyberattacks, ransomware and BEC. Those culprits are at the root of the serious rise in pricing for cyber insurance up by 56% in the US and 35% in the UK, driven by the frequency and severity of losses related to ransomware. For the third consecutive year, BEC schemes were the costliest cybercrime reported to The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (FBI IC3) in 2020 at an eye-popping 19,369 complaints with an adjusted loss of approximately $1.8 billion.
Every organization needs to be concerned about the strength of its defenses against phishing and phishing-related cyberattacks. In 2020, phishing attempts increased by more than 660% at the onset of the global pandemic. Phishing is easy, cheap and lucrative for cybercriminals. One phished password can open the door for cybercriminals to undertake bold actions with far-reaching consequences, as was seen in the 2021 Solarwinds attack or the Colonial Pipeline debacle.
These fast facts clearly show exactly why spear phishing should be at the top of your list when it comes to defending your business against cybercrime.
- 75% of organizations around the world experienced some kind of phishing attack in 2020.
- More than 80% of all cyberattacks are phishing attacks.
- 75% of phishing targets are found through web searches or common email address formats.
- Phishing and spear phishing is the top action variety at the root of breaches in 2021.
- 94% of malware is still delivered via email.
- Spear phishing is the culprit in 91% of successful data breaches.
- 95% of all enterprise network attacks include a spear phishing component.
Why Isn’t My Current Solution Effective Protection from Spear Phishing?
After reading through all of this data, it’s easy to see why it’s crucial that you have the right defenses in place to protect from spear phishing because it’s arriving on your company’s doorstep every day. Threats like spear phishing aren’t going away anytime soon in this volatile threat atmosphere. In fact, clever cybercriminals are refining their spear phishing techniques and combing through fresh caches of data on the dark web every day to launch audacious spear phishing schemes.
However, risk may be growing but budgets aren’t in a challenging economy, so businesses need to find a smart, economical and effective shield to put between themselves and spear phishing. Many of the tools used in conventional email security just can’t get the job done. They’re vulnerable to zero-day attacks due to the fact that they require threat intelligence reports and inputs from outside sources in order to detect new or unexpected phishing threats. In today’s rapidly evolving cybersecurity world, that’s a problem.
Another common blocker with anti-phishing email security solutions is that they need a great deal of specialized tending and configuration, which eats up the time of already overburdened tech staffers. Even something that seems turnkey, like a secure email gateway (SEG), isn’t the easy, effective solution it may appear to be at first glance. SEGs are often a crucial step behind defense – just this week researchers discovered a new phishing attack that bypasses the O 365 SEG while impersonating Microsoft’s official communications.
Best Practices to Protect from Spear Phishing
It takes a strong, smart defense to fight back against today’s cybercriminals. Every organization needs to reduce its risk of cyberattacks and boost its cyber resilience to thrive. That starts with making sure that there is a strong cybersecurity culture that ensures that every employee knows that they’re part of the security team. By keeping everyone on the same page, they’ll all be focused on keeping cybercriminals out of your systems and data. Following these best practices can help you keep your business safe from spear phishing.
- Do not open suspicious email
- Keep your systems and software up to date on security threats by patching regularly.
- Conduct regular cyber awareness training
- Enable two factor/multifactor authentication
- Use smart and strong passwords
- Make cybersecurity a company focus
- Remind employees to never give anyone their password
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What Can I Do to Protect from Spear Phishing Quickly and Affordably?
Graphus is the solution that your organization needs for powerful protection from spear phishing that fits your budget. Using patented technology, Graphus puts three shields between your employees and spear phishing with smart AI-powered defense to spot and stop 40% more phishing threats than conventional security.
- TrustGraph is the star of the show, guarding your company’s inboxes against social engineering attacks. Using more than 50 separate data points, TrustGraph analyzes incoming messages to detect trouble before speeding them to their recipients – and it never stops learning, constantly gathering fresh threat intelligence from every analysis it completes.
- EmployeeShield slips into place when a new line of communication comes into your business, adding a bright, noticeable box that warns employees to use caution when handling the message. This empowers every staffer to join your security team by marking a new message safe or quarantining it with one click for administrator inspection.
- Phish911 completes your triple-layered protection by making it easy and painless for employees to report any suspicious message that they receive to an administrator for help. When an employee reports a suspicious message. it is immediately removed from everyone’s inbox to prevent further trouble.
Your always-on guardian is also extremely effective against zero-day attacks. The AI doesn’t need humans to tell it what to look for. Graphus gathers its own threat intelligence automatically from every incoming message that your business receives instead of waiting for updates or intelligence reports that can be weeks old, a dangerous prospect in the fast-paced cybercrime world. Graphus never stops learning, tailoring your protection to the needs of your unique business and evolving with you as you grow.
Best of all, you’re making a smart choice that pays dividends now and in the future. Security automation can save more than 80% of the cost of manual security as well as saving IT payroll hours while freeing up cybersecurity specialists to do other things that can strengthen your security. More than 40% of companies in the IBM Cyber Resilient Organizations 2020 survey cited security automation as a major factor in their success at improving their cybersecurity posture.
Don’t put this off – 60% of organizations that fall prey to a cyberattack like phishing go out of business. Protect from spear phishing in days with Graphus the solution that seamlessly integrates with your systems and your business without breaking the bank. Contact our solutions experts today and we’ll show you exactly how Graphus benefits your business