What is a whaling phishing attack? (2023)


  • Ben Lutkevich,Author of the technical characteristics
  • Casey Clark,technological objective
  • Sharon Shea,boss Editor

A whaling raid, also known aswhaling spoofingo einswhaling phishing attack, is a specific type ofidentity fraudan attack that targets high-level officials, such as the CEO or CFO, to steal confidential information from a company. In many whaling phishing attacks, the attacker's goal is to manipulate the victim into authorizing high-value transfers to the attacker.

The termBallenerocomes from the size of the attacks and theOnlyIt is assumed that they are chosen because of their authority in the company.

Due to their highly targeted nature, whaling attacks are often more difficult to detect and prevent than traditional phishing attacks. In organizations, security administrators can help reduce the effectiveness of whaling attacks by requiring senior management to provide information.security awareness training.

(Video) What is a whaling attack and how to stay protected

How whaling attacks work

The purpose of a whaling attack is to trick a person into providing personal or business informationSocial development,E-Mail-Spoofand content spoofing efforts. For example, attackers may send a victim an email that appears to be from a trusted source; Some whaling campaigns include a custom malicious website created specifically for the attack.

Whale attack emails and websites are highly personalized and personalized, often including the target's name, job title, or other relevant information pulled from various sources. This level of adaptation makes it difficult to detect a whaling attack.

Whale attacks often rely on social engineering techniques, as attackers send hyperlinks or attachments to infect victims with malware or solicit sensitive information. By targeting high-profile victims, particularly CEOs and other company employees, attackers can also trick them into approving fraudulent transfers using business email compromise (BEC) Techniques. In some cases, the attacker poses as the CEO or other employees of the company to persuade employees to make financial transfers.

These cyber attacks can trick victims as attackers are willing to spend more time and effort to build due to their potentially high profits.Attackers often use social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to collect personal information about their victims to make the whaling phishing attack more plausible.

(Video) What is whale phishing or whaling attack?

5 ways to protect yourself from whaling phishing

Defending against whale attacks requires a combination of employee security awareness, data discovery policy, and infrastructure. Some best practices forprevention of whalingAdd the following:

  1. employee awareness.To avoid any kind of cybersecurity threat, all employees must take responsibility for protecting the company's assets. In the case of whaling phishing, all employees, not just senior executives, should be educated about these attacks and how to detect them. While high-level executives are targeted, lower-level employees can indirectly expose an executive to attack through a security breach. Employees need to know whatSocial engineering tactics for searchB. Fake email addresses disguised as trusted email addresses. For example, if an employee regularly corresponds with an email address that says: "[email protected], then the hacker can send a malicious email from "[email protected]’ to imitate the trusted correspondent and gain the victim’s trust. Employees should also be wary of email requests for money.
  2. Multi-step verification.All requests for electronic funds transfers and access to confidential or sensitive data must go through several levels of verification before being approved. Scan all emails and attachments from outside your organization for malware, viruses, and other issues to identify potentially malicious traffic.
  3. Privacy Policy.Enter data security policies to ensure emails and files are monitored for suspicious network activity. These policies should provide layered protection against whale phishing and general phishing to reduce the likelihood of breaching the last line of defense. This policy may include monitoring emails for signs of phishing attacks and automatically blocking these emails from reaching potential victims.

    Indicators of a possible phishing email include:

    • The domain or friendly name differs slightly from the trusted address.
    • The body of the email contains a request for money or information.
    • The domain age does not match the domain age of the trusted correspondent.
  1. Education on social networks.as an extension ofemployee awareness, alerting executives to social media's potential role in enabling a whaling violation. Social networks contain a wealth of information that cybercriminals can use to create social engineering attacks such as whale phishing. Executives can limit access to this information by setting privacy restrictions on their personal social media accounts. CEOs are often visible on social media in ways that convey behavioral data that criminals can mimic and exploit.
  2. Anti-phishing organizations and tools.Many providers offer anti-phishing software and managed security services to prevent whaling and other phishing attacks. However, social engineering tactics remain prevalent as they focus on exploiting the human error that exists with or without cybersecurity technology.

    The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) is an organization dedicated to investigating and preventing cybersecurity and phishing. Provides resources for organizations affected by phishing and conducts investigations to gain information on the latest threats. Organizations can also report a suspected threat to the APWG for review.

Diferenças entre phishing, ballenero phishing e spear phishing

Phishing attacks, whale phishing attacks, and targeted phishing attacks are often confused. These are all online attacks that target users to obtain confidential information or trick the victim into performing harmful actions.

A whaling raid is a special form ofidentity fraudtargeting specific high-level victims within a company. Targeted phishing attacks can target any specific person. Both types of attacks generally require more time and effort on the part of the attacker than standard phishing attacks.

(Video) What is Spear Phishing | Difference from Phishing and Whaling

What is a whaling phishing attack? (1)

Phishing is a broader term that covers any type of attack that attempts to trick the victim into taking action, including sharing confidential information such as usernames, passwords and financial records for malicious purposes; to installMalware; or make a fraudulent financial payment or wire transfer.

While common phishing email attacks typically send emails to large numbers of people without knowing how many will be successful, whaling email attacks usually target one specific person at a time, usually an individual of high level with highly personalized information.

Examples of whale attacks

One notable whaling attack occurred in 2016 when a senior Snapchat employee received an email from an attacker pretending to be the CEO. The employee was tricked into providing the attacker with information about the employee's paycheck; Eventually, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated the attack.

Another whaling attack in 2016 involved a Seagate employee who unknowingly emailed the tax records of several current and former Seagate employees to unauthorized third parties. After the phishing scam was reported to the IRS and the FBI, it was announced that thousands of people's personal information was exposed in the attack.

A third notable example of whaling occurred in 2018, when European film production company Pathé was attacked and lost $21.5 million as a result of the attack. The attackers, posing as high-ranking officials, emailed the CEO and CFO with a fraudulent request for a highly confidential financial transaction. Despite the red flags, the CEO and CFO transferred approximately $800,000 to the attackers, which was just the beginning of the company's losses from the incident.

(Video) Whaling phishing

HP has predicted that 2021 will likely see an increase in whale attacks and other cybersecurity threats such as ransomware, phishing emails and thread hijacking. The massive shift to remote work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is partly responsible for exposing organizations to new vulnerabilities, HP said.

This was last updated onJanuary 2021

Read more about whaling attack (whaling phishing).

  • Whaling Attacks: Taking Phishing Attacks to the Next Level
  • Test your knowledge of anti-phishing security with this quiz
  • 3 types of phishing attacks and how to avoid them

related terms

backdoor (computer)
A backdoor attack is a means of gaining access to an encrypted computer system or data that bypasses normal system security...See full definition
identity card theft
Credential theft is a type of cybercrime that involves stealing a victim's proof of identity.See full definition
bleeding heart
Heartbleed was a vulnerability in some implementations of OpenSSL, an open source cryptographic library.See full definition

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What are some examples of whaling? ›

For example, an attacker may send an email to a CEO requesting payment, pretending to be a client of the company. Whaling attacks always personally address targeted individuals, often using their title, position and phone number, which are obtained using company websites, social media or the press.

Who are targets of whaling attacks? ›

A whaling attack, also known as whaling phishing or a whaling phishing attack, is a specific type of phishing attack that targets high-profile employees, such as the chief executive officer or chief financial officer, in order to steal sensitive information from a company.

What is the difference between phishing and whaling? ›

Spear phishing is a type of phishing attack in which scammers install malware on the targeted user's system in addition to stealing data for fraudulent objectives, whereas whaling is a cyberattack on high profile persons such as CEOs, CFOs, celebrities, politicians, etc.

What are the three types of whaling? ›

There are generally three types of whaling that the Commission regulates: commercial, scientific research, and aboriginal subsistence whaling.

Where is whaling most common? ›

Which Countries Still Hunt Whales? The countries where commercial whale hunting continues are Japan, Norway, and Iceland. Norway kills the most whales of the three countries. Iceland announced in February 2022 that it would stop its commercial whaling practices by 2024.

What is an example of whale phishing? ›

Examples of Whaling Attacks

In 2016, Snapchat fell victim to a whaling attack when a high-ranking employee fell for a CEO fraud email and revealed employee payroll information. Snapchat reported the incident to the FBI and offered their employees two years of free identity theft insurance.

Does the US still do whaling? ›

In 1972, Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes it illegal for any person residing in the United States to kill, hunt, injure or harass all species of marine mammals, regardless of their population status.

What is the biggest threat to whales? ›

Introduction. Threats to whales include commercial whaling, pollution, ozone depletion, global warming an whale watching.

What are the 3 types of phishing? ›

What Are the Different Types of Phishing?
  • Spear Phishing.
  • Whaling.
  • Vishing.
  • Email Phishing.

What is whaling in simple words? ›

: the occupation of catching and extracting commercial products from whales.

What is the most common phishing? ›

Deceptive phishing is the most common type of phishing scam. In this ploy, fraudsters impersonate a legitimate company to steal people's personal data or login credentials. Those emails use threats and a sense of urgency to scare users into doing what the attackers want.

What are the six signs of phishing? ›

Frequently Asked Questions
  • An unfamiliar greeting.
  • Grammar errors and misspelled words.
  • Email addresses and domain names that don't match.
  • Unusual content or request – these often involve a transfer of funds or requests for login credentials.

What are the Top 5 cyber attacks? ›

Below are some of the most common types of cyber-attacks:
  • Malware.
  • Phishing.
  • Man-in-the-middle attack (MITM)
  • Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack.
  • SQL injection.
  • Zero-day exploit.
  • DNS Tunnelling.
  • Business Email Compromise (BEC)
Nov 7, 2022

When did the us ban whaling? ›

By the early 1970s, the United States had listed eight whales as endangered species. The U.S. officially outlawed whaling in 1971. In 1946, several countries joined to form the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The IWC's purpose is to prevent overhunting of whales.

What was the reason for whaling? ›

Why did humans hunt whales in the past? In the early days of commercial hunting, whales have been hunted for many products including bones, blubber (oil), the “whalebone” (baleen), and spermaceti, which refers to the oil in the head of sperm whales used to make candles and cosmetics.

How popular is whaling today? ›

Commercial whaling was banned in 1986. However, Japan, Norway, and Iceland have killed nearly 40,000 large whales since then. Over 100,000 dolphins, small whales, and porpoises are also killed in various countries each year.

Why did America stop whaling? ›

The standard explanation for the decline of whaling in the second half of the century is a pat two-parter consisting of falling demand (from alternative sources for energy) and falling supply (from over-hunting).

Does whaling still happen 2022? ›

Norwegian Whalers Slaughter 580 Whales During 2022 Season, Highest Number in Six Years. Oslo, Norway—In defiance of a 40-year-old international agreement to protect whales, Norway slaughtered at least 580 whales during the 2022 whaling season—the highest number in six years.

Why won t Japan stop whaling? ›

Like other whaling nations, Japan argues hunting and eating whales are part of its culture. A number of coastal communities in Japan have indeed hunted whales for centuries but consumption only became widespread after World War Two when other food was scarce.

What is a famous example of phishing? ›

The Nordea Bank Incident

Dubbed the "biggest ever online bank heist" by digital security company McAfee, Nordea customers were hit with phishing emails containing Trojan viruses that installed a keylogger into the victims' computers and directed them to a fake bank website where hackers intercepted login credentials.

What is a real life example of phishing? ›

Another classic example is a phishing email from Netflix that says “Your account has been suspended”. It asks you to click a link and give your details to reactivate your account. The attackers then harvest those details and either use them to commit fraud, or sell them on the dark web.

What are whaling techniques? ›

Docile, slow-moving, and sleeping on the surface, the whales were chased by rowboat, struck by harpoon, “played” like fish, and then lanced. Their bodies, which floated after death, were towed to shore for stripping and boiling of the thick blubber and processing of the baleen.

What country kills the most whales? ›

Instead, the number of whales killed during the whaling season in Norway has been increasing steadily over the past five years, from 429 in 2019 to 503 in 2020, and 575 whales in 2021, making Norway the country which has the most whales killed.

Which 3 countries are still whaling? ›

Whaling is illegal in most countries, however Iceland, Norway, and Japan still actively engage in whaling . Over a thousand whales are killed each year for their meat and body parts to be sold for commercial gain. Their oil, blubber, and cartilage are used in pharmaceuticals and health supplements.

Does China still do whaling? ›

IWC now has 61 member countries including China , which banned commercial whaling in 1986. Commission regulations allow limited hunting in Japan and other countries in the name of scientific research.

What usually kills whales? ›

Whales basically have two enemies: Orcas (killer whales, which in fact are not whales, but dolphins) and human beings. Only one type of Orca, the transient orca, is known to attack whales and other marine mammals. Transients Orcas are sometimes referred to as "wolves of the sea" as they will hunt in packs.

What human activity kills whales? ›

Overall, major threats to cetaceans are often the result of either direct or indirect human activity, and include habitat degradation, commercial fishing and whaling, pollution, boat traffic, and climate change.

How many whales are left 2022? ›

Current Population Size

The impact of this UME could be seen during our next two surveys, which estimated that the population had declined to approximately 20,500 whales in winter 2019/2020 and even further to approximately 16,650 whales in the winter of 2021/2022.

What are red flags of phishing? ›

Look out for: Incorrect (but maybe similar) sender email addresses. Links that don't go to official websites. Spelling or grammar errors, beyond the odd typo, that a legitimate organization wouldn't miss.

What are the biggest phishing attacks? ›

The 7 most famous phishing attacks
  • Belgian bank loses $70 million to phishing scam (2016)
  • Drugs company in Minnesota loses $50 million to spoofed email (2016) ...
  • Austrian aeronautics company loses $42 million to CEO Fraud (2016) ...
  • Ubiquiti Networks loses $39 million to CEO Fraud (2015) ...

What is difference between spam and phishing? ›

Spam is unsolicited email, instant messages, or social media messages. These messages are fairly easy to spot and can be damaging if you open or respond. Phishing is an email sent from an Internet criminal disguised as an email from a legitimate, trustworthy source.

What are the 3 most common cyber attacks? ›

What are the 10 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks?
  • Malware.
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks.
  • Phishing.
  • Spoofing.
  • Identity-Based Attacks.
  • Code Injection Attacks.
  • Supply Chain Attacks.
  • Insider Threats.
6 days ago

What are 5 ways to detect phishing emails? ›

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Urgent action demands.
  • Poor grammar and spelling errors.
  • An unfamiliar greeting or salutation.
  • Requests for login credentials, payment information or sensitive data.
  • Offers that are too good to be true.
  • Suspicious or unsolicited attachments.
  • Inconsistencies in email addresses, links and domain names.

What is whaling for hackers? ›

A whaling attack is a method used by cybercriminals to masquerade as a senior player at an organization and directly target senior or other important individuals at an organization, with the aim of stealing money or sensitive information or gaining access to their computer systems for criminal purposes.

What is whaling and why is it controversial? ›

Commercial whaling means hunting whales to sell the things that come from whales, like meat, oil and blubber. It was banned in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) - a group whose job it is to look after whale conservation - after some species became almost extinct.

Is whaling ethical Why or why not? ›

Since whales are used for food, the claim that whaling and eating whale products are immoral/unethical is not acceptable. Solely non- consumptive use of whales is simply not justifiable as long as resources are abundant.

Who is more prone to being phished? ›

Those aged 25 to 44 years are most likely to be targeted, according to results from the Telephone-operated Crime Survey of England and Wales (TCSEW). Traditionally sent via email, phishing involves messages from fraudsters posing as legitimate organisations to extract personal information, or money, from the victim.

Where do most phishing attacks happen? ›

The most targeted industries

CISCO's 2021 data suggests that financial services firms are the most likely to be targeted by phishing attacks, having been targeted by 60% more phishing attacks than the next-highest sector (which CISCO identifies as higher education).

How does a phisher typically contact a victim? ›

Phishing attacks typically rely on social networking techniques applied to email or other electronic communication methods. Some methods include direct messages sent over social networks and SMS text messages.

How do I know if I was phished? ›

Look for: Suspicious messages, emails and social posts containing shortened links. Web pages that ask for login credentials. Suspicious emails with uncharacteristic language.

What happens if I click a phishing email? ›

Clicking through a malicious link embedded in a phishing email can have severe consequences including data theft, account compromise and financial loss. One wrong click can also result in serious reputation damage and significant downtime - or even permanent closure - for businesses.

What happens if I got phished? ›

Phishing (pronounced: fishing) is an attack that attempts to steal your money, or your identity, by getting you to reveal personal information -- such as credit card numbers, bank information, or passwords -- on websites that pretend to be legitimate.

What is the #1 cybersecurity threat today? ›

1. Inadequate Training for Employees. The biggest cybersecurity threat to organizations comes from within them. According to a recent study by Stanford University, employee errors, whether intentional or accidental, are to blame for 88% of data breach occurrences.

What is the number 1 cyber crime? ›

Stolen credit card information: The most common cybercrime is when a person's credit card information is stolen and used unlawfully to acquire or purchase goods or services over the internet. Hacking into a government website: Another type of cybercrime is tampering with sensitive government data.

Who is the biggest cyber threat? ›

The biggest, most damaging and most widespread threat facing small businesses is phishing attacks. Phishing accounts for 90% of all breaches that organizations face, they've grown 65% over the last year, and they account for over $12 billion in business losses.

What products are made from whaling? ›

The products harvested from commercial whaling included oil, baleen, and ambergris.

What is whaling in real life? ›

Whaling is a highly targeted phishing attack - aimed at senior executives - masquerading as a legitimate email. Whaling is digitally enabled fraud through social engineering, designed to encourage victims to perform a secondary action, such as initiating a wire transfer of funds.

What is whaling in the 13 colonies? ›

In the 1600s the American colonists hunted right whales off New England for their oil and baleen. The baleen was made into corsets, umbrella ribs, and buggy whips. The right whales were brought back to the shore for processing where the blubber was boiled for the precious oil.

Why was whaling so popular? ›

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, whaling gained popularity throughout Northern Europe. Whale oil and baleen (sometimes called whalebone, although it's not bone at all) were valuable commodities. Whale oil comes from the blubber of right and bowhead whales, and the head cavity of sperm whales.

Is whaling still a serious threat? ›

WWF has serious concerns over the risks of whale meat from illegal whaling operations being laundered into any future legal trade. With some whale populations only beginning to recover, and others still on the brink of extinction, any intensification of commercial whaling could have serious consequences.

Is whale hunting illegal in the US? ›

In 1972, the United States Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The Act makes it illegal for any person residing in the United States to kill, hunt, injure or harass all species of marine mammals, regardless of their population status.

Is whale meat legal in the US? ›

No. It is illegal for anyone, including Alaska Natives, to buy or sell bowhead whale or Cook Inlet beluga whale meat or muktuk.

Why is Japan obsessed with whaling? ›

Like other whaling nations, Japan argues hunting and eating whales are part of its culture. A number of coastal communities in Japan have indeed hunted whales for centuries but consumption only became widespread after World War Two when other food was scarce.

What was the last US whaling ship? ›

The Charles W. Morgan is the last of an American whaling fleet that numbered more than 2,700 vessels. Built and launched in 1841, the Morgan is now America's oldest commercial ship still afloat – only the USS Constitution is older.

When did humans start whaling? ›

Whaling as an industry began around the 11th Century when the Basques started hunting and trading the products from the northern right whale (now one of the most endangered of the great whales). They were followed first by the Dutch and the British, and later by the Americans, Norwegians and many other nations.


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