Search
Close this search box.

Spear Phishing vs Phishing: Is there a difference, and how can you avoid them?

Table of Contents

Have you ever received an email or text message requesting you to click on a link? They can come from an unknown number or an email address designed to look authoritative but are often not as they seem. If you have been on the receiving end of one of these messages, you will likely be the victim of a phishing attack. A cyber criminal has tried to steal your data and sensitive information. If you did not click on the link, you should be fine, but if you or an employee clicked on a link without following due process, the result could be disastrous for your company. Here is a bit more information on what phishing is and two of the most common types used by cyber criminals.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is commonly delivered in the form of email, designed to trick you into performing a specific action, such as clicking on a link or opening an attachment. However, there is a difference between phishing and spear phishing.

A phishing email is when a potential hacker sends an email to a large number of recipients that they have collected through data breaches. They send emails purporting to be someone else to convince you to click the link or download the attachment. The sender will know that only a small number of recipients will respond. It is like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks.

These sorts of emails can be deceiving, and if you are in a rush, you are more likely to fall victim to the attack. But if you look closely at the email, signs often help you identify whether the email is legitimate. For example, one of the most common phishing emails is when someone impersonates HMRC and lets you know you are eligible for a big tax refund. HMRC (and Neuways) have compiled a list of what to look out for to ensure you are not the victim of a cyber attack or phishing email.

How easy is it to spot a phishing email?  

Most phishing emails will create a sense of fear or urgency to entice their victims to do what is needed. This can be in the illusion of authority (HMRC, Police etc.) or through a fear (missed parcel, deal of a lifetime, etc.) This is a stab in the dark as a company or individual will often realise that they have not ordered a package or been involved with authority; if you click on the link, whether your email or a work email, malware can be downloaded onto your device. That is why it is essential for companies to ensure that all employees follow best practices and due process when it comes to opening emails and clicking on links. It does not matter whom the email is targeting, but if the hacker can infiltrate a company device, they could gain access to a wealth of sensitive data. A data breach is not only catastrophic for your business but is also expensive to manage. Neuways offer Managed Security and Phishing Awareness Training to help companies and employees be aware of the pitfalls of phishing attacks.  

What is a spear phishing attack?  

Spear phishing emails are like phishing emails, but there are some key differences. They are carefully designed to get a chosen and specific recipient to respond to an email or click on a link. The term comes from using a spear to target a particular human or animal to wound them.  

How it works is that a cyber criminal will select an individual target within a company or business and impersonate them. First, they will choose their potential victim by looking up the employees and personnel of the company by using social media and other information which could be public. Then, the hacker will craft an email explicitly tailored to that person using their understanding of their role and likes and dislikes. It can be quite daunting to receive an email like this, as the effort that goes into spear phishing can be exhaustive.  

Spear phishing examples  

Take this scenario, for example. An employee at your company could post on LinkedIn that they are going on a business trip to London. They might receive an email from someone impersonating a staff member from the same organisation but in a different department or higher up. The instinct is to respond to someone with more authority than the recipient, so they might not think it through. An example would be:  

“Hey, whilst in London, we want to treat you to a nice meal. So, click on the link to see their menu, and let us know what you want to have. It’s on us!”  

It would look legitimate, especially if it were coming from your boss. However, employees of any company must stay vigilant when clicking on any links in an email. It is easy to spoof an email to make it look like it came from a boss. Attackers will often utilise similar email layouts to that of the sales department or accounts as they can easily get an email from them to clone. Managed Security Training from Neuways helps businesses improve their security and ensures their employees and company do not fall victim to any phishing attack.  

Want to keep up with our blog?

Get our most valuable tips right inside your inbox, once per month!

Latest IT News & Insights
Phishing Awareness Training
How To React To The Rise In Quality of Phishing Attacks
Be Cybersafe, stay informed, stay vigilant, and let Neuways help you build a strong and secure defence...
Read More
IT Support issues can be resolved by working with companies like Neuways
IT Support issue caused Cornwall Hospital Disruption - Not Cyber Attack
IT Support issues - It's all about backup protocols. These Issues caused disruption in Cornwall. but...
Read More
Neuways explain how to help move IT offices seamlessly.
How to seamlessly move offices without your IT being affected
Moving offices as a business does not have to be complicated. Make life easier for your team by enlisting...
Read More
Choose Neuways for your IT Support, Cyber Security and Business Central needs.
Become Cybersafe: Listen to our Cybersafe Digest Podcast
As leaders of businesses and companies, the weight of safeguarding your company’s assets, reputation,...
Read More
Use a password manager tool like the ones recommended from Neuways
Best thing about using a Password Manager tool
When using a password manager tool, you can store all your login details in one accessible place. It's...
Read More
Cyber Security Representation
The Critical Need for Businesses to Strengthen Cyber Security in the Age of AI
Businesses must take note of the dangers of AI and Cyber Security. In our latest blog we explain the...
Read More
IT Support in Derby from Neuways
What Questions should you be asking your IT Support Provider?
Choosing the right managed IT service provider (MSP) is crucial for your business’s success, and...
Read More
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Main Product Mockup Showcase ERP
Why Business Central enhances and streamlines solutions
See how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central enhances business solutions and streamlines the processes...
Read More

Frequently Asked Questions

As a leading IT and technology provider, we offer three core services, all of which have additional add-ons. We offer Managed IT Support, Business Central implementation and consultation, as well as Managed Cyber Security. Call us on 01283 753333 if you are interested in any of our services.

Contact us

Support: 01283 753300

Business Development: 01283 753333

Purchasing: 01283 753322

Admin and Accounts: 01283 753311

Email: hello@neuways.com

Managed IT support is a comprehensive solution where an expert IT provider, like Neuways, handles your technology infrastructure. This includes proactive monitoring, maintenance, cyber security, and support.

Yes we do. Your business needs Cyber Security due to the increasing number of cyber threats that are affecting businesses in all industries. If your business has data and technology systems implemented, you will need Managed Cyber Security.

Yes we can. We have our own dedicated Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central teams who work to ensure that we can implement the right systems and solutions into your website that are absolute right for you. 

Exclaimer Pro is a dynamic email signature that helps clients to switch and change around email signatures so that clients are able to advertise different offers and brands to a variety of email recipients. Administrators can also manage user emails internally, meaning the user does not have to touch their own email signature.

We offer Managed Security Training to help employees spot email phishing attacks, spear phishing attacks and vishing attacks. We also help train clients on how to use the various pieces of software we provide to clients, like Exclaimer Pro, Business Central and Cybersafe software.

We are a Managed IT Support provider based in Derby, East Midlands. However, we cover so many areas including the whole of the UK, Europe, and America. We are always willing to travel and send our expert technicians to ensure you have the best experience. 

Got a question?

Reach out
& Connect

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name