What is Whaling

What is Whaling, and how can you protect yourself from it?

4 Mins Read

CybersecurityWhat is Whaling, and how can you protect yourself from it?

What is Whaling

What is Whaling?

Whaling is an attack in which fraudsters exclusively target well-known and high-profile individuals to get confidential information. The target may be any celebrity, chief executive officer (CEO) of any company, chief financial officer (CFO), etc.

The goal of whaling an attacker is to impersonate any high-rank individual to steal the sensitive data of a company or organization.

The hackers involved in the whaling technique generally use social engineering techniques and infect their victims with the help of sophisticated emails and links. Whaling attacks are unlike phishing attacks because they are more specific and unpreventable.

The cybercriminals spend enough time and money on their construction because if the whaling attack is successful, it will bring potentially high rewards to them.

For instance, Snapchat became a victim of a whaling attack in the year 2016. A high-ranked employee was trapped by a spam email that was feigned to be sent by the CEO. Ultimately the matter was looked up by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).

How is a whaling attack designed?

The whaling attack is designed  by sending an email that will be received from a trustworthy source and look legitimate. The email usually contains a lot of your personal information and references that will convince the receiver that it is hyper-realistic and not a scam. 

Also, the attacker can trap the person by sending different links that will resemble different software update links, tour guides, etc. 

And when the person opens the link, it will lead to a fake website that is similar to a legitimate website. This fake website will collect the person’s information, and some malware will be downloaded to the device. This malware software is specially designed to penetrate your network, cause disruption in the device, and leak personal data like credit card numbers, bank account details, individual’s personal details, etc. 

Plus, they also blackmail and encourage the person for secondary frauds like starting a wire funds transfer with other high-profile individuals so that these hackers can access them too. 

What safety measures should be taken against whaling?

Like every other thing developing, cybercriminals are also improving and evolving every day. 

So, protecting personal information and assets of any company or organization requires different approaches to security as the high-ranking officers of your company or organization are exactly like gatekeepers of your treasures. There are a few helpful practices for protection against whaling attacks shared below:

1. Training executives and employees: 

It is the foremost duty of every employee working for any organization to protect sensitive information. Each employee, either of lower level or higher level, should be appropriately trained to be aware of these scams and how to recognize them. 

Although the target of whaling attackers is the high-rank person, the lower-level employees could be an indirect reason. So, every employee should understand the basic genetic engineering skills to identify the difference between mimicked and real emails or hyperlinks.

2. Emails outside of your network should be flagged:

Flagging emails is an effective method to identify spam emails. The flagged emails are often sent into a folder other than the inbox so they can be easily identified. 

For example, the email williamlucas@gmail.com can easily be confused with william1ucas@gmail.com in some specific font styles. So, to avoid this type of confusion, any email received outside the company network should be marked flagged. It is an incredible way to stay safe from whaling.

3. Data securing policies should be established:

The company or organization should introduce policies for data protection. The policies should ensure that all the emails, data, and files are monitored constantly to avoid suspicious activity and protect from breaching. 

Active monitoring systems should be established that automatically block the emails from suspicious networks before reaching the victims. Cybercriminal activities are increasing at a high rate, so the policies for data security should also be regularly updated to avoid mishaps. 

4. Etiquettes of password protection:

The whaling attackers are constantly trying to access the passwords of personal or bank accounts of their target. Simple and small passwords are relatively easy to  crack. 

But, if your password combines some upper case letters, lower case letters, symbols, numbers, etc., it is more secure and hard to crack. Plus, you should maintain a different password for each account instead of repeating the same. 

Also, don’t ever enter your passwords on websites that are not trustworthy. Moreover, multi-step verification on your account can also help your protection.

5. Ensuring multi-step verification of your accounts:

You can also protect your accounts with multi-layered security to ensure that only the right person is accessing the account or data. Usually, the two-step verification is provided to log in to your accounts. 

When you put your email and password, an OTP (one-time-password) is sent to your provided number, which will confirm that the permission to open the account is granted to the right person only. 

6. Keep your cybersecurity policies up to date:

Every passing day is evolving the cybercriminal activities to an alarming level. Thus, the companies should smartly work to upgrade their cybersecurity policies to protect their higher rank executives from becoming the victims of whaling attackers. 

Such policies should be in practice that can detect spam emails or antivirus software to avoid account hacking. 

8 . Use VPN

If you are looking for the most effective strategies to protect yourself from whaling then the use of VPN will save you from it.

Learn how PureVPN can safeguard you from cyber attacks?


By following the above mentioned practices, you can keep your accounts safe from whaling attacks.

Sameed Ajax Sameed is a Digital Content Producer at PureVPN who covers cybersecurity, streaming, and weekly news. Besides that, he wastes time playing FIFA, eating pizza, and sending tweets.

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