14 November, 2016

A whaling attack can be defined as a targeted type of phishing attempt to extract important information from high profile users, most commonly the corporate executives, celebrities and political leaders. Just like phishing emails, these attacks involve sending fake emails that claim to be from a legitimate source. The difference is that the content of a whaling email is written in a more professional manner and generally framed in the form of a legal notice, company issue or customer complaint.

Give below are some of the key attributes of a whaling attack:

  • Involves extensive research about the target: The success of a whaling attack largely depends upon gaining the trust of the target user. If the recipient has any doubt about the authenticity of the email, he would not take the desired action. To avoid this, hackers carry out an extensive research to gather maximum information about the target victim. They browse through his social media profiles, company information and other online sources so that a legitimate email can be crafted.
  • Uses A Compromised Account Or Fake Domain: The hackers generally attempt to compromise one of company’s higher level executive’s email account. They may also create a fake domain name that looks similar to the official website of the company. This reduces the chances that the email will be perceived as suspicious.
  • No Use Of Links And Attachments: Unlike phishing attacks, whaling emails do not have any attachments or embedded links. This ensures that the email easily passes through the spam ad phishing filters. Also, the users do not hesitate opening the email perceiving it to be malware laden.

Tips To Prevent Whaling Attacks

  • The senior management, high level employees and financial teams should be educated about the whaling techniques and how to identify spoofed emails. They should also be updated with the common characteristics of a whaling email, such as fake sender names, hoaxed URLs, wire transfer requests etc.
  • Utilize an email filtering system. Whaling emails are sent to look like they have come from someone within the organization. Demarcating emails that are not sent from the company’s corporate network is a good way to identify whaling attacks.
  • Establish a face to face or phone verification process for emails that require money transfer.

We, at Centex Technologies, can help to improve your company’s IT security. For more information, you can call us at (855) 375 – 9654.