Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #422 7/18/2018

Question: What is spearfishing?


Spearfishing has recently been in the news with the Mueller investigation mentioning the Russian operatives doing spearfishing in July 2016 on Democratic Party accounts. Spearfishing is a special kind of phishing.

Phishing is when emails are sent to a bunch of email addresses to attempt to get people to reveal personal information. Quite often phishing emails are sent telling you that you need to click on a link about a package delivery or something wrong with a bank account etc. What they are then wanting in these emails is for you to enter your account number/name and password and it is a factious login screen and that they now have your login information.

Spearfishing is a specialized kind of phishing. Instead of sending the emails to every email address in a domain they send to select addresses as they are looking for login or other type information only from certain people, usually higher-ups or people in positions to have privileged access. In the case of the spearfishing with the Democrats we know at least one of them was the head of Clintonís campaign and that he clicked on the link either giving them information or downloading a file that then gave them access to his account. In that specific case we know he was suspicious and did what he should have done and asked his IT people but was given wrong info and told it was ok email.

If you get an email like was in that spearfishing attempt the best bet is always donít open it and delete it. A fair number of computer hacking jobs occur from the inside so even being told by someone in the company it is ok, may have been untruthful information. Best bet is donít open and delete if any question in your mind and then contact the company/person/organization separately to see if it was real. If it was they will get information from you in another way.

It is strange that phishing for information is spelled with ph and spearfishing is with an f. However, Mueller news reports have it correct and a Cisco cybersecurity class I am taking spells the same.