Unfortunately for everyone who loved that fun spam sent from African princes, this kind of scam is in the past. Almost nobody already believes that those emails are legit. So malefactors have to come up with new ways to make money on not too cautious users.

One of such fresh scams is spear phishing. This approach became possible thanks to social media platforms and traces of information we leave behind us as we browse the Net. To help you remain safeguarded, let’s figure out what spear phishing is, and how you can keep scammers away.

What is spear phishing?

We all are aware of what is phishing - the kind of scam when malefactors make the website or email look legit so that you trust it and give out your sensitive information. Hence, the name “phishing” that sounds just like “fishing”. Scammers lure users just like fishes making them believe they will get anything they want without any harm.

Spear phishing is simply a more advanced version of familiar ordinary phishing. For this approach hackers gather the information about a certain user, study it, and then create a message that looks like something a person’s friend, coworker, business partner, etc. would send. Malefactors would use a domain that is very much alike to the one you already know. They can even make the email look like the confirmation of the latest purchase you’ve made online.

Obviously, they will not spend so much resources and waste time to get something from the ordinary user. That’s why malefactors target an employee from the company they need to get their hands on, for instance. Or some person that they know for sure is worth all the resources spent on spear phishing.

However, it doesn’t mean that you don't need be concerned about your privacy. The industry develops all the time, and it becomes easier to gather and analyze data for scamming. That’s why you should take care of what you share online and protect your personal information. Especially considering that we never know what will happen in the future - perhaps your business will become extremely successful, and you will be the desired aim for hackers.

How to safeguard yourself from spear phishing?

In fact, it’s quite simple to do. You just need to follow easy rules browsing the Internet, and your privacy will remain untouched.

Be greedy with your information

When you sign up for a new social media or another platform where you have to create an account, provide the system only with the necessary data you won’t be able to sign up without. For example, if you can go just with the nickname dropping the real name and surname - do it. If you can skip the city you live in and the birth date - do it.

Also, you should avoid all those quizzes of Facebook that will tell you what kind of bread you are. They’re as dangerous as they seem to be fun. Anyone can submit this quiz to Facebook and, therefore, get access to the personal information of users who click on it. So for the sake of your own safety, cut the fun of Facebook quizzes - they can be a perfect source of information for hackers.

Keep your accounts private

Hide most of the data you share on your social media account from the public view. Let only friends see the details about you. And even here try to be as private as possible and don’t show them the data that is too sensitive. Also, be wise with the people you add as friends on social media. There are a lot of bot accounts that help hackers gather information.

Use reliable passwords

This rule is just as old as computers are. Yet, people still use passwords like “0password1” or “qweasdzxc”. Google Chrome, for example, and some websites as well offer generated passwords that contain a random set of numbers, letters, and symbols. That’s a great opportunity to keep your profiles safe. You can keep generated passwords saved in your Google account - they will be fine there. Just think twice giving third-party tools and sites access to your Google account. And keep the password for it as strong as possible.

Keep apps updated

You should regularly update all apps both on desktop and mobile devices. Outdated software has vulnerabilities hackers use to crawl into them. Thus, if your apps are outdated, you’re risking getting your device hacked. You virtually allow malefactors to come and steal all the sensitive information. So take your time and update the apps.

Think when you open the email

If there are any links you need to click on in the letter - check the address of the sender twice. Malefactors will make domains seem similar to the real ones. For example, you order something from Amazon, so you expect to receive the confirmation from [email protected] Hackers can send you a “confirmation” email from [email protected], and you might not notice the difference.

In general, if there is something suspicious about the email - flag it as spam and don’t click any links in it. Ideally, don’t even open them if you can spot that there is something off. You can also use special services to check if the link is safe.

Use a VPN

Especially, if you’re connected to the WiFi in the public place. Public wireless networks are very rarely safe because no one takes care of the security of the router. Thus, being connected to the one you expose your device to hackers.

When using a VPN, you keep your device hidden from prying eyes. Therefore, the hacker can’t trace you down and steal your data. With iNinja you will keep both your desktop and mobile devices protected for free. So there is no reason for you not to get iNinja VPN and begin using it to stay safe.

It’s always better to prevent the issue rather than fixing the damage. So protect yourself from spear phishing, and stay alert at all times. Then you can be sure your personal data is safe and sound, and no one will make a profit of you.

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