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What is Spear Phishing in Cyber Security?

Cyber security threats have evolved to become more sophisticated and dangerous than ever before. With the volume of data breach incidents continuing to rise, cyber attackers are finding new ways to trick people into giving them sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. If you think you’d never fall for a phishing attack, we’re here to prove you wrong. Spear Phishing is a type of cyber attack that tricks people into giving up their personal information. In this blog post, we will walk you through what spear phishing is in cyber security and why it’s much more dangerous than standard phishing.

What is Spear Phishing?

Spear phishing is an increasingly common type of phishing that targets an individual or organization by pretending to be from someone they know. The name “spear phishing” refers to the type of fish that is used to catch prey.

A spear phishing attack uses a “spear” - a spoofed email address and domain name that makes the victim think they’re communicating with someone they trust, like a colleague or client. Spear phishing attacks can come from hackers who have obtained your email password or have hacked your email account.

They may also come from people you know who have been tricked into becoming phishing “rooks.” Rooks are people who have been hired to trick others into giving up sensitive information.

How Does Spear Phishing Work?

A spear phishing attack uses a “spear” - a spoofed email address and domain name that makes the victim think they’re communicating with someone they trust, like a colleague or client.

When the victim clicks on a malicious link or opens an infected attachment, malware is downloaded onto their device and the hacker can gain access to the victim’s accounts.

3 Signs of a Spear Phishing Attack

If you think you’ve received a spear phishing attack, look out for these warning signs.

  1. Suspicious Urgency - A real client would not be in a rush to get your information. A spear phishing email is likely a scam if the client is asking you to respond immediately. Once you respond, your details will likely be sold on the dark web and you could lose access to your accounts.
  2. Unnatural or Unusual Tone - A real client would not be overly formal or use an odd tone. A spear phishing email is likely a scam if the client is using a very formal tone or has poor spelling and grammar.
  3. Wrong or Missing Information - A real client would have all of your information, like your name and email address. A spear phishing email is likely a scam if You don’t recognize the sender’s name. The sender’s email address isn’t from a company you trust. You don’t recognize the company the sender claims to represent.

Why is Spear Phishing So Dangerous?

Spear phishing in cyber security is dangerous because it targets individual employees. In a standard phishing attack, an employee might receive an email from someone pretending to be the CEO requesting their login credentials.

In a spear phishing attack, the CEO would likely spot the scam. A spear phishing attack targets an individual employee by name. The email might come from the CEO’s assistant, requesting the victim’s login credentials while impersonating the CEO.

These targeted attacks are hard to spot because they come from someone the victim trusts. Victims are more likely to click on malicious links or open infected attachments because they think the emails are legitimate.

Difference Between Spear Phishing and Standard Phishing

While both types of phishing attacks are carried out online, there are a few key differences between spear phishing and standard phishing. Standard phishing attacks are sent to large groups of people, hoping to trick a small percentage into giving up their login credentials.

While spear phishing attacks are also targeted at individuals, they are more personalized. These attacks use information collected from public websites like social media and company websites to build a profile of the victim. This makes the emails more personalized, which makes the attacks seem more legitimate.

Ways to Protect Yourself from Spear Phishing Attacks

As spear phishing attacks become more prevalent in the worldwide cybersecurity landscape, it is important to be cautious of these types of scams. Here are some ways to help protect yourself against this type of cyberattack:

  • One of the most important things you can do is to be vigilant when opening unsolicited emails. Do not click on links inside of email messages that you have not specifically requested. If you get an email that looks like it’s from a reliable source, but that actually contains a link, instead of clicking on the link, just delete the email entirely.
  • Additionally, if you receive a suspicious phone call or text message and feel uncomfortable answering the call or replying to the text message, just hang up and ignore it.
  • A second way to protect yourself from spear phishing attacks is by being careful about what information you share with third-party websites or apps – such as social media accounts or your banking account credentials. It’s best to avoid sharing any information over an unsecured channel, such as email or public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Finally, if you ever receive a suspicious message asking for personal information (like your login credentials), forward the message to your bank and notify your local authorities. This will help ensure that law enforcement officials are able to take appropriate action in order to protect your identity and your financial information online.


Phishing is one of the most common ways that hackers gain access to sensitive data like login credentials, usernames, and banking details. While these attacks can come in all shapes and sizes, there is one type that is becoming more prevalent: spear phishing.

A spear phishing attack in cyber security targets an individual employee by name and is personalized with details about the victim’s online presence. These attacks are more likely to trick victims into clicking on malicious links or opening infected attachments because they come from someone they trust and are personalized with personal information.

While there’s no foolproof way to protect yourself from phishing attacks, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling victim.