Spear Phishing Examples

You can read about something, but it may not really click until you see real-world examples.

This can be especially true when it comes to spear phishing.

You might know that it is a targeted phishing attack on either an individual or an organization, but could you recognize one if you saw it?

In this article, we show you some spear phishing examples so you can familiarize yourself with the concept and know how to identify a phishing email. In these examples, you’ll see that even big names can fall victim to cybercriminals’ efforts.

Alcoa

In what seems like an international spy movie scenario, the Chinese military carried out phishing attacks on Alcoa, an American aluminum supplier. The cybercriminals masqueraded as a board member and sent out emails to several employees. When they opened the emails, malware was automatically installed onto their computers, which resulted in leaked trade secrets.

MORE : What is a Phishing Email?

Amazon

Amazon is so popular on a worldwide level that most cybercriminals don’t have to go to much effort to trick their users; the majority of phishing attempts are generic.

But instances of spear phishing do happen on this platform. In 2015, a clever spear phishing attack fooled many customers into installing ransomware. The scammers sent out a dispatch email to users who had recently placed an order with Amazon, so the email appeared incredibly genuine to them.

MORE : Prevent Spear Phishing

PayPal

When any website involves transactions and has millions of users, it’s sure to be a hot target for cybercriminals. Although most scam attempts are made through regular phishing, there’s been a few instances of spear phishing attacks.

Instead of using blanket emails, scammers send out more targeted ones that use customer names. This strategy has a higher success rate since the emails look more legitimate.

RSA

Even security companies aren’t invulnerable to spear phishing. In 2011, several employees were targeted with a simple spear phishing attack. While the emails were sent to the junk folder, one worker managed to retrieve the email and click on the attachment, which then installed malware on their computer.

The malware turned out to be a remote access program, giving the cybercriminals access to sensitive company data via that single employee’s computer.

MORE : Difference Between Phishing and Spear Phishing

Prevent security breaches

As these spear phishing examples show the spear phishing vs phishing difference, scammers can infiltrate even the most sophisticated organizations. Chances are, your business has trade secrets you want to protect, just as these big brands do. Hence it is important to know how to protect against phishing or use best phishing prevention software. If you want to avoid a similar fate to theirs, both you and your employees must follow phishing prevention best practices and aware of current phishing scams.

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  • Learn why hosted solutions like Office 365 are vulnerable to phishing.
  • Discover why you must protect both your employees AND your customers.
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