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‘Spear Phishing & Whaling’ – Scam Emails Targeting the Wealthy and Retired

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Did you know there are specific cyber attacks targeting the wealthy and retired?

Whilst not a scam in itself, phishing is by far the most common method criminals use to either extract your credentials (passwords) or gather your financial information (credit card numbers) directly from us. Spear and whale phishing techniques are subsets of the more common phishing attacks which you're probably used to (fake emails trying to get you to download an attachment or click on a link). Spear and whale phishing attacks tend to be specifically designed for those who are slightly more well-off such as the retired and elderly.

Spear Phishing

This type of phishing targets specific groups of people. Rather than the ‘shotgun’ style of normal phishing where emails are sent out indiscriminately, spear phishing targets specific groups – the ‘sniper’ approach.

For example, these emails can be targeted to specific social groups, hobby interests or people in certain employment. They have much more convincing messages and highly tailored content within the emails.

The key here is not to be tricked by the presentation of what looks like seemingly accurate information about you. Continue to follow the tips in Social Engineering to gauge how legitimate the email is!

Whaling

This is a subset of spear phishing that specifically targets high net worth individuals and corporate executives. The term comes from the Las Vegas gambling world where ‘big spenders’ are known as ‘whales’ and are targeted by casinos to try and attract them into their casinos!

Often these attacks include the delivery of malware (e.g. key logger) so they can capture all kinds of confidential information about you to de-fraud, impersonate and steal your identity at a later date. Emails include an attachment which looks legit but is malicious and installs malware that helps them secretly take control of your device – this is why you should always be very cautious about opening email attachments!

If you’re unsure of an email attachment you can usually (using your right click) scan it with your anti-virus software to check it’s not hiding anything. If you don't have anti-virus software as yet (and yes, even you Mac users!) click here to find out why it is an absolute must-have and what I recommend you use.

Top Tip: perform a family hacking test! Agree with all family members that sometime in the next month you will be calling them up (or a family friend will be as they may recognise the voices) or sending a fake email to test their abilities to recognise suspicious calls and emails. This can be fun and can really help younger generations become aware of the risks. Losers do the dishes!

Find out more about how you can protect yourselves here at www.simplecyberlife.com

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