The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) receives a suspicious voice mail warning of credit card fraud. No one else received the voice mail. Which of the following BEST describes this attack?
C. Spear phishing
Correct Answer: A
Section: Threats and Vulnerabilities
Whaling is a specific kind of malicious hacking within the more general category of phishing, which involves hunting for data that can be used by the hacker. In general, phishing efforts
are focused on collecting personal data about users. In whaling, the targets are high-ranking bankers, executives or others in powerful positions or job titles.
Hackers who engage in whaling often describe these efforts as “reeling in a big fish,” applying a familiar metaphor to the process of scouring technologies for loopholes and
opportunities for data theft. Those who are engaged in whaling may, for example, hack into specific networks where these powerful individuals work or store sensitive data. They may
also set up key logging or other malware on a work station associated with one of these executives. There are many ways that hackers can pursue whaling, leading C-level or top-level
executives in business and government to stay vigilant about the possibility of cyber threats.
B: Vishing is the act of using the telephone in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The scammer usually pretends to be
a legitimate business, and fools the victim into thinking he or she will profit. A voice mail was used in this question, not a telephone conversation.
C: Spear phishing is an e-mail spoofing fraud attempt that targets a specific organization, seeking unauthorized access to confidential data. As with the e-mail messages used in
regular phishing expeditions, spear phishing messages appear to come from a trusted source. Phishing messages usually appear to come from a large and well-known company or
Web site with a broad membership base, such as eBay or PayPal. In the case of spear phishing, however, the apparent source of the e-mail is likely to be an individual within the
recipient’s own company and generally someone in a position of authority. The attack described in this question is not an example of spear phishing.
D: Impersonation is where a person, computer, software application or service pretends to be someone it’s not. Impersonation is commonly non-maliciously used in client/server
applications. However, it can also be used as a security threat. The attack described in this question is not an example of impersonation.