IT Knowledge BaseGeneral TopicsSecurity Spear PhishingWhat is Spear Phishing and How do I Spot a Phishing Attack?

What is Spear Phishing and How do I Spot a Phishing Attack?

This article covers what spear phishing is and how to spot phishing attacks in an email.

What is Spear Phishing?

Spear Phishing is an email spoofing fraud attempt that targets a specific organization seeking unauthorized access to confidential data.  While spear phishing is similar to a phishing email, the messages are typically more personalized, making it appear that they are from a person or organization that you are familiar with - - a trusted source.  The success of spear phishing hinges on its ability to appear authentic and how logical the request seems to be.  Everyone with an email address is a potential target.  

How do I spot a phishing attack?

To protect yourself from phishing attacks, look out for emails and messages that have these characteristics:

  1. Requests to click on links or open attachments
  2. Sense of Urgency
  3. Appeal to Human Greed and Fear
  4. Requesting Sensitive Data

Companies will never ask for passwords, social security numbers, and other sensitive data via email.

Always check the URL of the site you are visiting. Many times Phishers direct you to an imitation website that appears legitimate, but steals your password or other sensitive data.

Need More Help?

To learn more about phishing, view the chapter on Spear Phishing.

Contact the IT Help Desk at helpdesk@fullerton.edu or 657-278-7777 for additional assistance.

For more resources, view the Spear Phishing Help & Resources article.