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SPEAR PHISHING: DON’T BECOME LUNCH FOR HACKERS
We regret to inform you that you have no unknown relatives, foreign royalty, or unknown companies willing to leave you millions of dollars. If someone tells you otherwise, you are probably a victim of spear phishing.
Phishing and spear phishing as its more direct form is a way how hackers and thieves scam you online to give out your personal information. Sometimes they will even ask for money directly.
Those who are not careful about where they leave their information can easily find themselves contacted by someone pretending to be a reliable website or person. Unlike visible scams, these traps will lead you to a website that looks familiar. And while you may think you are visiting Facebook, Google, or Amazon, you are being phished.
There are a couple of ways to protect yourself directly. With premium VPN providers, you can mask your IP address and prevent being targeted. Additionally, as your data will be encrypted, there is little chance of someone finding out how and where to trick you. After that, it is all up to vigilance and cyber hygiene.
What is Phishing?
In its essence, phishing is a type of scam where the scammer pretends they are someone you already trust. This attack can come at various levels and using different platforms, depending on the level of data the scammer has on their target.
Those trying to scam people usually make whole websites or pages to fool someone into giving their private or financial information, or to send money directly.
In certain cases, these attackers will cast a wide net with no specific information that would entice you to click on their link. But, for those that are not careful, a lot of your data can be available. Direct attacks like this can lead to spear phishing, which are targeted attacks and a more dangerous form of the scam.
Types of Phishing
Phishing attacks come in several flavors and each can be found in different places. Some types of phishing are reserved for email and SMS messages, while others are more frequent on dating platforms such as Tinder.
In all of these cases, the starting point of the scam is the little bit of private information someone has on you. This catalyst can be your name, your phone number, your IP address, or any other piece of data.
Funny enough, if you are using a VPN app and practicing other forms of protection, these scams can fail quite spectacularly. Bots don’t distinguish between your real name and a pseudonym and will call you xXxNooBHunter69xXx in what is supposed to be an official email from your bank.
Wide Net Phishing
Certainly the most prevalent type of phishing, this scam has been around for more than a decade. Currently, it is usually done by bots and use large email databases to send as many emails as possible.
Generally, the email will contain your name, or just address you as ‘’Sir or Madam’’. It will contain a scam link which might even infect your candar or settings. In most cases, it will present a problem with your device or service you may have, and that you need to enter more personal information to solve this issue.
At the moment, most email providers will block a spear phishing email and similar types of messages, but some may pass through. Thankfully, they will usually be obvious and easy to notice as a scam. Without any information, they will ask for yours, which is not something any company would ever do.
Catfishing or Catphishing
Catfishing sounds funny because it is usually connected to a person’s failed romantic endeavors. That is before it happens to you.
By the definition of this scam, the other side is not presenting itself as a company or a service, but as an attractive romantic prospect. The scammer will usually use pictures from foreign Instagram models and browse through dating apps to find someone to chat with them.
The main difference of catfishing vs. spear phishing is that the ‘’catfish” doesn’t need to know your data. If they can trick you into believing them, you will give it yourself. Even here they will sometimes send a link that will lead to a doggy website but can also steal your info outright.
Finally, some catfish are humble in their demands and work on volume. They might present themselves as in need of financial assistance and ask you for money openly. Those with a kind heart or uncontained lust might be fooled to do this multiple times.
The Nigerian Prince
This exact scam might be old and well-known phishing scam in cybersecurity circles, but there are newer iterations.
In the same way, how spear phishing focuses on fear and catfishing focuses on lust, the ‘’Nigerian Prince’’ aims to exploit your greed. Not to sound like Saint Thomas Aquinas, but in this case, a virtuous life does mean a happy life.
With these types of spear phishing scams, the thief tries to take both your money and your financial information. In exchange, they promise vast amounts of money transferred to your account, as soon as you pay the small nominal fee.
All kinds of things can be offered this way, from houses to new gadgets, and even royal titles.
While there are other ways to detect such a phishing email, the best way is being reasonable. If something sounds too good to be true, it’s usually because it is a scam.
Protecting Yourself from Phishing
As the old saying goes: ‘’Better safe than sorry’’.
It is much easier to prevent from ever being a victim of phishing than dealing with the consequences. And, with just a couple of tools and a bit of knowledge on how to detect scams, you will be safe and sound from this cybersecurity risk.
VPN and Anonymity
The best way not to be attacked is to be absent. By using a VPN
and a pseudonym on your social media, there will be no data to use in phishing attempts.
Premium VPN providers have multiple servers all around the world that will mask both your IP address and your location. And, if you don’t use your full name on social media, this will untie any other information from your accounts. Simply use a nickname that will be recognizable to your friends and family, but not to foreign hackers.
Finally, you should use a VPN service on all of your devices. Aside from your desktop, laptop, and smartphone, you should protect your IoT devices.
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