whaling attacks

What’s the Difference Between Spear Phishing and Whaling?

Phishing is a broadly understood risk when it comes to internet security – it’s the process by which data thieves will attempt to infect your system with a virus by sending an authentic-looking communication that tricks the recipient into a clicking a malicious link. As phishing becomes a more established method of data theft and virus infection, however, data thieves are specializing – which leads to new terms.

In order to effectively protect against phishing, you need to know the different types of phishing that you might encounter. Two increasingly popular methods are spear-phishing and whaling. But what are they, and how do you protect yourself from them?

Spear phishing

So, what is spear phishing? Phishing is where a large number of potential victims are targeted by a single email or communication. Spear phishing is where a specific target is chosen, rather than simply sending it to as many recipients as possible and seeing who “bites”. With spear phishing the data thieves will only have one target – whether it’s an individual, a business, or an organization.

Whaling Attacks


With that in mind, what is whaling? The first thing to know is that whaling and spear-phishing aren’t actually different practices – they both involve targeting a phishing attack to an individual recipient. What differentiates whaling is that the target is one that has been deemed to have “high value”. So, for example, this may be a wealthy individual or a high ranking individual within a business. The term is borrowed from the gambling industry, where a wealthy gambler who makes regular high-stakes bets is known as a “whale”.

How do you stay safe?

Now you know the difference between spear phishing and whaling, how do you stay safe? There are various methods that can help, thanks to specialist IT security services such as Spambrella.

The right email security service!

Email security services can play a large part in keeping your system safe by helping you determine what constitutes a safe link/attachment or what doesn’t. Advanced spam protection, email encryption, content and attachment filtering, daily user quarantine reports, and much more can be used to help ensure the safety of your online communication. A specialist service provider like Spambrella can help you better understand the right software for you, and ensure that integration into your regular email usage is as seamless as possible.

Knowledge and understanding

One of the most effective tools for staying safe online is knowledge. Understanding the warning signs of a phishing attack, and what to do if you think you might have fallen victim to one, is essential for staying as safe online as possible. Learn the tell-tale signs, such as low-resolution logos, egregious spelling and formatting errors, and a poor grasp of English. A consultation with the team at Spambrella can help you to better understand what malicious communications commonly look like, and what you should do if you’re suspicious of one.

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For more information on protecting yourself from the threats of spear-phishing or whaling, contact Spambrella today.

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