What Is A Spear-Phishing Attack?

In this article, learn about spear-phishing attacks, how they can affect your WordPress website, and ways to prevent spear-phishing attacks.

Earlier on the wpwave blog, I’ve discussed the URL phishing attacks and how common these attacks are. A spear-phishing attack is similar to an URL phishing attack, but not quite. While URL phishing attacks target a large number of random people over the internet, we can’t say the same thing about spear-phishing attacks.

Spear-phishing doesn’t aimlessly choose random people, but this kind of attack involves having a specific target in mind. But how does this attack work? How can this attack affect your WordPress websites? Are they both even related? How should we protect our data and websites from spear-phishing attacks? Well, I got you. Read on to find out answers to all of your questions.

What is a spear phishing attack

Spear-Phishing Attack

Spear-phishing attacks are social engineering phishing attacks that target a specific individual or a small group of people by impersonating a trusted sender. They do this by collecting data about you by researching the information available publicly on the internet that helps scam you. Data shows that at least 95% of spear-phishing attack attempts successfully tricked their targets into opening the scam e-mails sent by the hacker. What makes this attack’s success rate more than that of email-phishing attacks? The answer is simple.

Let us consider a scenario. On one fine day, you get an e-mail from WordPress that looks legit. So, you open it see what’s the deal with the mail. It says that you need to update your website’s database as soon as possible. The e-mail doesn’t have anything in it to imply that it’s a fraudulent message because the e-mail looks exactly like an official WordPress e-mail.

It also mentions your name, unlike the typical phishing e-mails that start with ” hello users,” “Dear,” etc. Since the e-mail looks so real, you get influenced by the tone of the urgency of the e-mail. So, you click on the attachment that takes you to the login page. It asks you for the login credentials, and once you give them, it’s all over. The hacker gets your WordPress login credentials and acts before you even understand that you’ve made a mistake. If you have a security plugin like the Hide My Wp, it might buy you time to make things right. 

Even though the e-mail looked so real, there are always things that give away that it isn’t a legitimate e-mail. But you ignore the red flags like the time limit to work on the issue or the grammatical mistakes because you must attend to the situation “immediately.” Since you are directly addressed by the e-mail, it becomes more believable, but it should not. 

How Do Should We Prevent Spear-Phishing Attacks?

Spear-phishing attacks do not need much work from hackers. If you fall into his traps, it gets much easier for him. We should never make things go way the way a hacker wants, so let us understand the ways to prevent spear-phishing attacks:

Don’t Trust

I think the heading itself sums it up, but to be more precise, consider every mail inside your inbox is from a hacker. Never rush into clicking on an attachment from an e-mail. Always make sure that the mail is from a legitimate sender. Check for grammatical errors, or if the mail urges you to click on an attachment, it’s most probably a scam mail.

You also need to see if the attachment link is slightly modified to look like the original website URL. The modifications would be hard to catch unless you pay close attention, so make sure to look closely at the URL. Also, if the attachment in the website doesn’t take you to an HTTPS website, it is fake for sure.


Sometimes a hacker might even impersonate your colleague or a friend and send you an attachment through an e-mail. However, it might not be him, so always check with the sender if he did send you something. If he hadn’t, clicking on the link will insert malware into your computer or any device you use when opening the link.


No matter how much you know about spear-phishing attacks, sometimes it can be tempting for you to open the link and see what’s it about, but that is what you must refrain from doing. I need to emphasize this again, always hold back from clicking on links or downloading attachments sent in an e-mail.

Use A Security Plugin

Even if you are unfortunate enough to fall prey to a spear-phishing attack, you need to have a backup plan that helps you protect your WordPress website. And that plan is to use WordPress security plugins like the Hide My WP that gives you 24/7 protection from different kinds of attacks on your website. Here are some jaw-dropping features of the Hide My WP security plugin:

Hide My Wp security plugin
  • It lets you hide or rename the themes and plugins folders.
  • It can hide your WordPress.
  • It helps you change WordPress permalinks.
  • It will help you hide the login page of your website to prevent brute-force attacks. This feature will help you set up a login query and login key.
  • It has a firewall that can block attacks like SQLXSSCSRF, read arbitrary files, and brute force attacks.
  • It informs the user about:
  1. Value (How they hack you?)
  2. Page (Which plugin did they use?)
  3. Impact (How dangerous is that?)
  4. IP/ users (Where are they from?)
  • It will assist in hiding or renaming WP-admins.
  • It will disable direct access to PHP files and directory listing.
  • It will let you minify HTML and CSS.
  • It will allow you to change anything in your source code.
  • It has anti-spam included.

Summing It Up

  • Spear-phishing attacks are similar to URL spear-phishing attacks. They both share the same purpose, to steal information, insert malware into victim’s devices. However, spear-phishing targets a specific target like an individual recipient or an organization. 
  • Since WordPress is world-famous, its websites often get targeted by hackers. WordPress users often get e-mails from fake WordPress, pushing them to click on an attachment with a reasonable excuse to back the e-mail up.
  • The only for us to prevent these attacks is by not being gullible. Never trust an e-mail with attachments, and also use security plugins to protect your WordPress.

Also Read: How Unknown Third-Party Code Harms Websites?