You may have heard of phishing attacks, but have you ever been a victim of a whaling email attack? A very sophisticated type of email security threat, whaling email attacks can have hugely detrimental effects on the safety and security of businesses – but how? Here’s why it’s time to learn more about whaling email attacks.

What is whaling?

Whaling is a type of phishing attack that specifically targets people in senior or managerial roles within a business. Disguised as official, legitimate messages, whaling emails often trick CEOs and other high-ranking company executives into sharing confidential information. This often includes financial information, making whaling email attacks one of the biggest threats faced by businesses.

Like other phishing attacks, whaling emails try to deceive the recipient by using branding, language and other details to go undetected. By posing as a company or client that your business often communicates with, cybercriminals take advantage of CEOs before they realise they’ve been targeted by a spam attack.

How does whaling work?

Unfortunately, as cybercriminals start to employ more and more sophisticated methods, it becomes much more difficult for their victims to distinguish between real and illegitimate emails. This is true of all phishing attacks, but especially in cases of whaling. This is because many of the tell-tale signs of phishing are eliminated in whaling attacks. For example, spam emails often contain incorrect personal details (such as a misspelt name) or obvious grammatical errors.

This isn’t true for sophisticated whaling attacks. Instead, spam email senders research the target company to find specific information about the business (or personal information about employees) to avoid raising suspicion. They will also often use the appropriate business terminology within the email. This makes it challenging for the recipient – especially busy CEOs and other managers – to identify the email as a whaling attempt.

Spoofing is another technique used during whaling attacks. This is where cybercriminals send emails to employees from addresses similar to those of managers and other colleagues. At first glance, employees aren’t likely to recognise these as whaling attempts, making it easy for hackers to gain access to important company information.

What are the risks of whaling?

Falling victim to a whaling attack can be detrimental to businesses. Not only can phishing attempts cost you financially (e.g. some emails are designed to give hackers direct access to your company accounts) but they can also tarnish your reputation. After all, you are likely to lose clients if their personal information is leaked during a whaling attack on your company.

With this in mind, it’s extremely important to increase the email security measures of your business. Whether you run a small or large enterprise, cloud-based anti-spam can almost eliminate harmful spam emails from reaching your database. This is exactly what MailCleaner is designed to do, freeing up valuable time for your employees while increasing the safety and security of your business. To learn more about MailCleaner, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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