Cyber Security: What is a Whaling Attack?

You may have heard the term “whaling” or “ whale attack” in relation to cyber security before. If you’re feeling a little confused, that’s probably because whaling and whaling attacks are often misunderstood. Whaling attacks are a type of social engineering attack, very similar to phishing, which is used to trick high-level employees into giving up sensitive information about their company and its users. The term whaling comes from the word “whale,” which references the high-ranking positions that these employees typically hold within their organization. These types of cyber security threats are especially dangerous for companies with large user bases and data repositories. If you want to know more about whaling attacks, read on!

What is a Whaling Attack?

A whaling attack is a form of social engineering that targets high-level employees of a company. The goal of a whaling attack is to get an employee to give up sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers, that they have access to. Whaling attacks are especially dangerous because they take advantage of the insider access that these employees have—giving them an advantage over other cyber security threats. The term “whaling” comes from the word “whale,” which references the high-ranking positions that these employees typically hold within their organization. Whaling attacks are often used to steal employee log-in credentials, impersonate other employees, steal sensitive data, and/or access critical systems in the company.

How is a Whaling Attack Performed?

To understand how a whaling attack works, it’s helpful to first look at some of the key components of a whaling attack. The first is a premise: The attacker will find a way to get an employee to trust them. The attacker might send an employee an email that appears to be from someone they know. They could also impersonate a high-level manager at the company. Another key component of a whaling attack is the payload: The information that the attacker will request once they’ve gained an employee’s trust. The attacker will likely request the employee’s login credentials, which will give them access to the company’s data. The final key component is the delivery method. In some cases, the attacker might send their request via email. In other cases, the attacker might call the victim and request the information verbally. Whaling attacks can occur in person, via phone call, via email, and even via text message.

Why are Whaling Attacks So Dangerous?

One of the biggest reasons that whaling attacks are so dangerous is that they take advantage of the insider access that high-level employees have. Since these employees likely have access to the company’s data, whaling attacks give the attackers the opportunity to steal sensitive information. Unlike other cyber security threats, whaling attacks give the attackers an advantage because they can know the ins and outs of the company and its employees. Another reason that whaling attacks are so dangerous is that they’re often hard to detect, especially if the attacker has the ability to disguise their voice. Unlike other cyber security threats, whaling attacks often take place over the phone. So, even if you know the person who is calling you, it can be tricky to determine if the call is legitimate or not.

How to Protect Yourself From Whaling Attacks?

There are several ways that you can protect yourself from whaling attacks. First, it’s important to recognize the key components of a whaling attack. Once you know the warning signs, it will be easier to spot an attacker who is attempting to trick you. You should also make sure that you’re protecting your company’s data by putting in place a data security plan. A good cyber liability insurance policy will help you identify all of the sensitive data that you have in your possession and outline the best practices that you should follow to keep this data secure. As with any other cyber security threat, the best way to protect yourself from a whaling attack is to have strong cyber security protocols in place. Make sure that all of your devices are fully updated with the latest patches and that you’re using a strong password for each one. It’s also important to make sure that you’re not downloading any suspicious files or clicking any strange links.

Final Words

Whaling attacks are one of the most dangerous types of cyber security threats. That’s because they take advantage of the insider access that high-level employees have. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can protect yourself against whaling attacks. To protect yourself, make sure that you’re fully updated with the latest patches and that you’re using a strong password for each device. It’s also important to make sure that you’re not downloading any suspicious files or clicking any strange links.


Looking for more information?

A cyber liability policy can help cover your business and keep you updated with industry tips like this one. Get in touch with us today to learn more about cyber liability insurance coverage, or set up a no-obligation consultation with a commercial lines expert through TelaClient.com.

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