What Is Spear Phishing?

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What Is Spear Phishing?

Spear phishing is a specific type of phishing scam. Like other phishing methods, it aims at obtaining personal information of the victim, usually through e-mail. Normal phishing is aimed at single individuals and consumers; spear phishing is aimed at entire businesses and organizations.

For instance, a spear phishing scammer may target a business and obtain certain information about that business. They would then send out a mass e-mail to that company using information that would spark the interest of the company members. The scammer may even pose as a member of the company or as a business partner with the group. The mass message may be requesting for employee information such as social security numbers, passwords, or even trade secrets and copyrighted information.

Is Spear Phishing Illegal?

Sending communications to businesses is generally not prohibited, especially where the business lists their email address(es) publicly. However, it is illegal to use or obtain a person’s private information without their consent. These types of actions can constitute criminal fraud charges. They may also involve charges for identity theft.

In addition, some spear phishing scams actually aim to hack into the other business’ data files and account information. For instance, an e-mail phishing message may ask for access to the company’s confidential information. Hacking into other company’s databases can lead to federal felony charges and may lead to severe penalties. 

How Can I Avoid Spear Phishing?

Spear phishing can often be addressed using software that is aimed at filtering fraudulent messages. However, employees should also be trained to recognize false messages and report them to the appropriate supervising authorities. Also, you should report any instances of spear phishing to the police or to government agencies whose purpose is to investigate fraud in a business setting.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Spear Phishing Cases?

Spear phishing can cause many losses for business in terms of time and resources. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you have any legal issues involving spear phishing. Your attorney can provide you with advice for your case and can also help you file a lawsuit or criminal claim if necessary. Your attorney will be able to represent you if you need to attend court hearings.

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Last Modified: 02-11-2014 11:50 AM PST

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