https://askanydifference.com/difference-between-spear-phishing-and-whalingabc Difference Between Spear Phishing and Whaling - Ask Any Difference

Difference Between Spear Phishing and Whaling

Web services play an important role in our life also they come with several disadvantages which are like email attacking and few of them are Spear Phishing and Whaling. They both are the type of E-mail Phishing attack that happens in this digital era where they steal data and money virtually. In these two methods attacker attacks via web link or email to steal important information of any big organization. They both have some distinct features as listed below:

Spear Phishing vs Whaling

The main difference between Spear Phishing and Whaling is that Spear Phishing target a specific group of people in the organization to steal the corporate banking data whereas Whaling targets the Top-level management of the company to steal the business secrets and other important data of the company. Both of them are the type of Phishing attack through URL.

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Spear Phishing refers to the email attack made by an unethical hacker to unauthorized access of banking data to steal the money deposit in that. It is a kind of fraudulent practice via electronic communication towards a particular group of people. This method is used by cybercriminals for stealing banking data to siphon funds.

Whaling is a type of cybercrime performed by IT criminals targeting Top-level management in the company for stealing confidential data and trade secrets of the company which made the company harms in multiple ways. It is prominently known as a CEO attack in layman’s language. It targets only senior-level employees to take sensitive information about the business.

Comparison Table Between Spear Phishing and Whaling

Parameters of ComparisonSpear PhishingWhaling
FocusIn Spear Phishing the focus of theft is to steal corporate banking information.In Whaling the focus of theft is to steal trade secrets or admin data of an organization.
TargetIn Spear Phishing usually, the target is a specific group of individuals or a companyIn Whaling usually, the target is a high-level employee like CEO, COO, etc.
ActionAttacker design an email or message to attack in Spear Phishing.Attacker design a malicious URL to attack in Whaling.
PreventionSpreading awareness about Spear Phishing is a preventive measure for this.Always verify the URL before clicking and preventing Whaling.
LossIn Spear Phishing the victim loss their money stored in banks.In Whaling the victim loses its business secrets and confidential data of the company.

What is Spear Phishing?

The term Spear Phishing refers to the malicious mail or SMS sent to multiple people based on the selective data with an intention to fraud them and siphon the money from their bank account illegally. Spear Phishing is one of the types of Phishing scan done online to cheat random people of a company. In Spear Phishing the attacker mostly sends emails or SMS containing an illegal link to fill corporate net banking.

In Spear Phishing the confidential banking information is generally retrieved from middle-level management or lower-level management. They mostly target the victim through electronic means of communication targeting a specific individual group and sometimes they create malware in the victim’s computer to steal the amount.

Disguised emails are the weapon they use digitally to harm the victim virtually by stealing their banking data and performing a virtual theft.  They are more lucrative than the normal phishing attack which usually targets random people demanding money.

Staff credential, IPR rights, financial data is generally collected under the Spear Phishing method of Phishing targeting the middle-level employee by sending them fraud emails or SMS. Sometimes ethical hackers also perform the scam of spear phishing. 

What is Whaling?

The term Whaling refers to the type of Spear Phishing in a more selective manner targeting high-end employees demanding trade secrets and confidential business data with malafied intention by the cybercriminal to harm the business goodwill in a sophisticated manner. It targets high-level employees possessing all confidential data instead of low-ranking employees. A major focus of Cybercriminals in Whaling includes Cheif Executive Officers, Legal heads, marketing heads, Chief Operating Officer, or Compliance Officers.

Sometimes the attacker leverages the authority of high positioned employees to pressurize the lower rank employees in terms of stealing data of the company. In Whaling, attackers use personalized emails or websites to gain the trust of the victim and spend a lot of time preparing for this fraudulent activity or data scam. 

The attackers collect all possible information about management hierarchy to perform whaling fraud in an organization and it can be prevented with the help of antivirus, malware, and other protecting software so that if anyone supposed to click any suspicious link must ensure the verification of the link with the help of safety measures and to stop these virtual thefts. To perform whaling they generally collect data from LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc. 

Main Differences Between Spear Phishing and Whaling

  1. Designing: In Spear Phishing attacking emails are designed for a particular group of individuals or companies whereas In Whaling the attacking emails are designed for high-level officials or founders having secret data.
  2. Subset: Spear Phishing is a subset of Phishing attacks in cybercrime, on the contrary, Whaling is the subset of Spear Phishing to attack celebrities, CEO, COOs, founders.
  3. Value: Cyber Criminals attack a high yield group of individuals to steal the virtual money of the company in Spear Phishing and They attach High net worth/to level personnel to steal trade data, business secrets.
  4. Example: Example for Spear Phishing – Email containing pending payment notification to fill in bank details and Example for Whaling – A well-designed email from CEO to accounts asking payroll data.
  5. Preparation: The Preparation time for a Spear attack may not take much time from the criminal side and It takes a long study and preparation time for Whaling.

Conclusion

These days Phishing activities are not unstructured emails or SMS which are itself appears as spam content instead of this cybercriminals perform deep research to attack the specific victims. The electronic messages of Whaling and Spear Phishing are lucrative to attract the target people and harm them virtually by stealing their confidential data or trade secret. 

Today Phishing attacks are so advanced that they too have types and categories to perform divided based upon their target victim. The research involved in performing a particular scam is such an example of new era phishing activities. Awareness programs are required as a preventive measure to safeguard from Spear Phishing and Whaling.

References

  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7552043
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8616482

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