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Beware of Phishing: Identify Phishing and Spear phishing

Threat Insights

Phishing :

Spear Phishing:

Cellopoint Threat Insights helps you understand the latest trends in phishing, ransomware, and BEC attacks and offers strategies to strengthen email security against these evolving threats. This article will explore two widespread email attacks: Phishing and Spear Phishing. Through case analysis, we will help you understand the differences between these two types of attacks.

Which Type of Phishing Attack Did You Receive?

A phishing attack is a type of social engineering attack that sends malicious emails to many recipients. The email content is designed to deceive recipients into clicking an embedded phishing URL or an attachment containing the phishing URL.

Standard phishing attacks are usually broad-scope and generic, sent to masses of people, often targeting users of popular services like Facebook, Netflix, or Google.

In contrast, spear phishing involves personalized frauds to deceive a specific target, such as an individual, group, or organization. Cybercriminals often already possess detailed information about their targets, making the fraud emails appear legitimate and credible. Because these attacks are highly tailored, both the sender and the content of the email will appear to look authentic, making it easy for recipients to be fooled if they're not vigilant.

Standard phishing typically aims to phish personal information (credentials or financial information) for identity theft and other crimes. For spear phishing, obtaining personal information is the initial goal, but the ultimate objective is to acquire more sensitive data about individuals or organizations, spread malware or ransomware, or steal financial credentials, among other malicious activities.

Case Analysis

  • Standard Phishing Example: This is a very widespread standard phishing attack. It impersonates Netflix, sending masse emails to individuals to get login information and financial information.

  • Spear Phishing Example: An employee receives an email with the subject line "ATTENTION!" regarding performance reports, intended to catch their eye and trick them into clicking a URL. This leads to a fake login page where their email address is already filled in, aimed at stealing their password for future criminal purposes.

Threat Detection

Cellopoint’s inbound email security solution includes an Anti-spam module that can effectively detect patterns of such phishing attacks and perform a comprehensive assessment using mechanisms such as IP detection and reputation scoring. The two phishing emails shown above are from unfamiliar senders (never received before) and contain malicious URLs. Consequently, they were identified as high-risk phishing emails and intercepted by the Anti-spam module.

Threat Prevention

To prevent phishing emails like these, it is recommended to take the following precautions to secure organization email:

  • Employee Security Awareness Training: Employees are the first line of defense in email security and need regular training to identify phishing techniques. Cellopoint offers training that includes social engineering simulations, post-event analysis, and educational content. Regular simulations enhance employees' security awareness, making them more vigilant and significantly reducing risks.

  • Choose Email Security Protection Products with Advanced Features: Many traditional Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) struggle to keep up with the evolving threats. Organizations should deploy email security protection solutions that can detect advanced email threats such as Cellopoint multilayered email security solutions, which offer comprehensive advanced email security protection. This includes Anti APT-URL, Anti APT-File, and BEC (Business Email Compromise) protection, effectively identifying and protecting employees from targeted phishing attacks, and advanced persistent threats (APT).


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