As the level of Internet user’s understanding of cyber threats has increased over a period of years, the con-artists and spammers have also strived to continue coming up with new tricks to fleece the Internet users.
Gone are the day of random dispatch of thousands of emails containing Nigerian scam plea of fund transfer requiring some initial amount to be deposited by the recipient in order to release a large sum of money out of African bank account. Or simpler attacks such as you have won a lottery – deposit an initial fee to release the huge sum into your account’ are also not effective these days. And reasons are obvious here. First, email users are alert enough to identify such email as junk, and better still, most of such emails are automatically purged by junk-filters employed by email service provides – be it online web based email services or corporate mail servers.
Then there’s substantial cost involved in sending out hundreds of thousands of such emails in hope of finding a few targets where neither spam filter worked nor common sense of user. For example, the hacker first posed as a women, and in the process of getting to know the victim through online dating sites, developed a level of confidence to beg for emergency financial help (to be wired through Western Union) and ran away with it.
This and similar techniques are called spear phishing when an attack is well planned and targets are specific.