Spear-phishing is a dangerous and sophisticated form of cyber-attack, which is different from traditional phishing tactics because it’s highly targeted. Instead of casting a wide net, attackers craft personalized emails aimed at specific individuals within an organization, with the goal to trick employees into clicking on a bad link or download an infected file. Once an employee clicks, the attacker can take the next steps to compromise the company’s entire system.

These targeted emails are highly convincing, often due to the messages being personalized to the employee. The more personalized the message, the easier it is to make a mistake and click an infected link. 

PII Makes it Easier

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) enhances spear-phishing attacks. Cybercriminals use personal information to craft convincing messages and increase their success rates. Details such as names, home addresses, job titles, email addresses, and even personal interests can be used to make these emails look more legitimate. 

It’s Happening Now

The Ticketmaster breach in May 2024 is a recent example of how spear-phishing can cause havoc on an organization. Hackers gained access to Ticketmaster’s Snowflake account through a third-party contractor, EPAM Systems. A successful spear-phishing attack on an EPAM employee in Ukraine gave the attackers access to unencrypted usernames and passwords, compromising over 560 million accounts.

What You Can Do

  1. Employee Training: Regular and comprehensive training sessions can help employees recognize phishing attempts. However, even well-trained employees can sometimes fall victim to sophisticated attacks if the content is tailored effectively.
  2. PII Removal Services: A significant step in reducing the risk of spear-phishing is limiting the availability of personal information online. IronWall360 helps businesses lower the levels of information available online, making it harder for attackers to gather the content needed for personalized attacks.
  3. Advanced Email Filtering: Implementing advanced email filtering solutions can help detect and block phishing attempts before they reach employees' inboxes.
  4. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Requiring MFA for access to sensitive systems adds an additional layer of security, making it more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access even if login credentials are compromised. 
  5. Incident Response Plan: Having a robust incident response plan in place ensures that businesses can quickly and effectively respond to phishing attacks, minimizing damage and recovery time.

Protecting your organization from spear-phishing requires a comprehensive approach. Reducing the amount of your employees’ personal information online is a crucial step. IronWall360 specializes in online privacy protection and PII removal, helping businesses lower their risk of targeted attacks. 

To learn more about how IronWall360 can help safeguard your business, contact us – we’re ready to go to work for you.

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Ron Zayas


Ron Zayas is an online privacy expert, speaker, author, and CEO of 360Civic, a provider of online protection to law enforcement, judicial officers, and social workers. For more insight into onli... Read more

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