What is Spear Phishing?


Spear phishing is a cyber crime that uses emails to carry out targeted attacks against individuals and businesses. Criminals use savvy tactics to collect personal data about their targets and then send emails that sound familiar and trustworthy.

These emails often have attachments that contain malicious links to malwareransomware, or spyware. Additionally, the email will blatantly ask the recipient to respond urgently, such as transferring a specific sum of money or sending personal data such as a banking password.

Because the emails are written in a highly familiar tone and refer to personal information about the recipient, victims mistakenly believe they know and trust the sender and respond to the request.


Both individuals and businesses are targeted by spear phishing:

Individual Spear Phishing Attack

Cyber criminals pretend to be a business the individual trusts. The entities can include, for example, their bank or a well-known online site like Amazon. The email could be crafted as a transaction confirmation or shipping notice. The goal is to get the individual to open the email and click a malicious link or send confidential information that can then be used to commit further cyber crimes.

Business Spear Phishing Attack

Cyber criminals typically target two or three company employees. Often the email appears to come from the targeted individuals’ boss and directs them to transfer money, provide passwords, or other confidential company information. The tone of the email is urgent, tricking the victims into thinking that if they don’t act, the company will be in jeopardy.


Did You Know

Spear phishing is a type of social engineering scam that criminals use to steal data, infect computers, and infiltrate company systems and networks.

What Is The Difference Between Spear Phishing And Phishing?

The difference between spear phishing and phishing is the approach used. Spear phishing is a targeted and personalized type of phishing.

Phishing emails use a broad-strokes approach, sent as a bulk email with the hopes of tricking at least one person into giving up confidential information. These phishing emails are typically not as well-written as spear phishing emails and do not include personal information.

The nature of bulk phishing emails makes it easier for recipients to avoid being tricked. However, as we know, many individuals are prone to clicking email attachments and not thoroughly verifying the sender’s email address before responding.

Cyber security awareness training and continuous education are vital in reinforcing the importance of being cyber-aware of emails and the inbox.

How Does Spear Phishing Happen?


Spear phishing happens when an innocent victim responds to a fraudulent email request demanding action. This action can include providing passwords, credit card details, clicking links to confirm shipping information, or transferring money.

These spear phishing emails seem believable because the cyber criminal has collected sensitive personal information about the recipient. This information is used in the email to trick the recipient into believing the email is legitimate.

Often these emails appear to come from the recipient’s boss, colleague, friend, family member, bank, or a popular online store. Using a tone and voice that expresses urgency, the recipient is compelled to act immediately to prevent significant losses, a shutdown of an account, or a legal charge.

Many people are embarrassed to admit when they’ve been tricked by a spear phishing email, believing they should have known better.

Everyone must receive security awareness training emphasizing how easy it is to be tricked into giving up confidential information by savvy cyber criminals.

It’s important to remember that spear phishing attacks rely on the human element – people are busy, trustworthy, and blindly click links without thinking twice.

phishing simulation enables you to identify which employees are prone to engaging with spear phishing and phishing attacks, as well as demonstrate how easy it is for one of those schemes to be successful.

How Common is Spear Phishing?


According to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 36% of data breaches involved phishing, 11% more than the previous year. On a related note, the report found that, of the more than 5,200 confirmed breaches cited, 85% of them centered on the human element.

In short, spear phishing is an increasingly common cyber threat due to how effective it has become. Using information freely available on social media and company websites, criminals can gather enough information to send personalized, trustworthy emails to victims.

Social engineering is a savvy way to trick people into giving up information, access, and details they know they should keep secure and private. Social engineering and spear phishing rely on the natural tendency to trust others.

People assume the request from their boss for an urgent money transfer or the password update request from their bank is legitimate because they recognize the source and believe they are acting in the best interests of themselves and others.

How To Prevent Spear Phishing


What Is A Spear Phishing Simulation?

Spear phishing simulations are the best way to raise awareness of spear phishing risks and to identify which employees are most vulnerable to this threat.

Spear phishing simulation lets you easily incorporate cyber security awareness training into your organization in an interactive and informative format.

People see first-hand how personalized, trustworthy emails steal personal and corporate information. Real-time spear phishing simulations are an accessible way for any organization to educate people and increase awareness to spear phishing attacks and techniques.


Top 10 Benefits Of Spear Phishing Simulations

1. Measure the degrees of corporate and employee vulnerability.

2. Eliminate the cyber threat risk level

3. Increase user alertness to spear phishing risks

4. Instill a cyber-aware security culture by training cyber heroes

5. Change behavior to eliminate the automatic trust response

6. Deploy targeted anti-phishing solutions

7. Protect sensitive corporate and personal data

8. Meet industry compliance obligations

9. Assess the impacts of cyber security awareness training

10. Segment spear phishing simulation training