Spear Phishing, Redux

4 Dec ’05

The NYT reports on spear phishing, a targeted form of socially engineered spam I blogged in October. It’s a fascintating piece with the usual doses of fear, loathing and gruesome detail. Gist:

More recently, however, a hybrid form of phishing, dubbed “spear-phishing,” has emerged and raised alarms among the digital world’s watchdogs. Spear-phishing is a distilled and potentially more potent version of phishing. That’s because those behind the schemes bait their hooks for specific victims instead of casting a broad, ill-defined net across cyberspace hoping to catch throngs of unknown victims.

Spear-phishing, say security specialists, is much harder to detect than phishing. Bogus e-mail messages and Web sites not only look like near perfect replicas of communiqués from e-commerce companies like eBay or its PayPal service, banks or even a victim’s employer, but are also targeted at people known to have an established relationship with the sender being mimicked.

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