Over the past few years, the digitization and advancement of technology are increasing so as are the cyber threats to your system, network, and devices. Cybersecurity is one of the major concerns of every individual and company nowadays due to online operations and sensitive data storage. Data and online activities are prone to threats like Malware, phishing, viruses, and other types of cyberattacks that can be tackled by taking certain measures.
This article is focused on one of the most common, cheapest, and most effective kinds of cyberattack, Phishing, and how to deal with it.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a cyberattack that is done by delivering false messages that imitate those from reliable and authentic sources, frequently via email, text message, or telephone. The main objective of the attacker is to steal money, get login information, bank and credit card details, and sensitive data, or infect the victim’s device with harmful software. Phishing is a severe and common type of cybercrime.
How Phishing Attack is Carried Out?
In a phishing attack, the attackers send a malicious message to people. The message is molded in such a way that manipulates the recipient psychologically to perform a certain action like providing sensitive information.
The attacker often poses as someone the victim trusts, such as a coworker, a boss, or a business that the victim or victim’s employer does business with, in order to generate a sense of urgency in the victim to take the action rashly.
In a successful attempt, the attackers will be able to collect the information of the user like their name, job title, and email address, as well as interests and activities, username, passwords, and bank account details.
Types of Phishing Attacks
- Email Phishing
The most common type of phishing type is email phishing. These attacks are mostly sent through emails. Attackers generally create fictitious domain names that resemble actual businesses and bombard their targets with tens of thousands of repetitive requests. To show the message from a legitimate source they use the exact phrasing, typefaces, logos, and signatures.
Attackers may add or replace characters in false sender’s domains such as., using ‘rnicrosoft.com’ instead of ‘microsoft.com’—to appear authentic at first glance.
Attackers frequently utilize a sense of urgency to compel users to take action. An email could sound threatening and urge the user to take action as soon as possible for instance, threaten account expiration and start a timer for the receiver. Such strain makes the user less careful and more prone to mistakes.
The user might be directed to click a certain button or link in the email for further action and these hyperlink serves as bait for these attackers and once the user click it he/she will be diverted to the fake website. This fake website will make them give their actual login credentials or details.
- Spear Phishing
Spear phishing is a type of phishing attack that targets a specific person, typically one who has special access to confidential information, network resources, or other special authority that the scammer can use for illegal or unethical ends. The attacker might have some prior knowledge about the victim.
Social media and social networking sites, where users frequently overshare details about meetings, events, and travel plans make it a rich resource for cyber criminals for spear phishing. An attacker can set up a customized scam by compiling information or acquiring information about a specific target.
Another type of phishing attack is Whaling which targets high-profile individuals of any company. The method of this attack is quite subtle but the main objective of the attacker is the same, to acquire sensitive information. Senior profiles mostly possess highly sensitive information regarding a company. The phrase “whaling” refers to the notion that the attackers are “hunting” for the “big fish” within the company.
Similar to other phishing attacks, the method of whaling is also to trick the victim with malicious URLs and links in an email. The attackers use the data they learn from their investigation of the victim to create highly personalized messaging.
Sign of a Phishing Attack
There are various signs and indications that indicate a phishing attack, such as,
- Sense of threat or urgency in the email.
- Requiring immediate action from the victim.
- The message style is different from the formal or the casual one, that is it will contain inappropriate language or tone. The message’s recipients should look for any further clues that can point to a phishing message.
- If the email request you to perform unusual actions the email could be malicious.
- Look for any linguistic errors.
- Check if the web address matches the email address. In phishing attacks, the domain name could be different from the email address of the sender.
How to Protect Against Phishing Attacks
Phishing is one of the cheapest and most effective types of cyberattacks launched on various users and on specific ones. These phishing attacks can be prevented by taking certain measures.
- Spread Cybersecurity Awareness
Employers should launch cybersecurity awareness training programs for their employees so that they can get aware and identify any phishing scams in emails and not respond to them or click any links or attachments.
- Adopt Email Security Solutions
Adopt certain email filters and antivirus programs that can protect you from malicious acts in email messages. These programs can detect any phishing emails or link on the email and block the phishing attempt.
- Utilize Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Try to use multifactor authentication (MFA) on your accounts as an extra layer of security. This will add an extra verification step to get into your account that can only be accessed by you.
- Use Strong Password
Use strong and difficult passwords for your accounts and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Password managers are recommended the most. And employees should keep on changing their passwords regularly.
- Use Web Filters
Web filters show alerts whenever users access allegedly dangerous or false websites and prevent users from visiting known hazardous websites (sites that are “blacklisted”).
First of all, report the attack to the concerned department such as the IT department or business security department or person if you have been a target of a phishing campaign.
Some of the most targetted industries of the phishing campaign are
Phishing can be detected by checking the hyperlinks before clicking them, tone of urgency in the email, linguistic errors, asking to take immediate action and etc.
Phishing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of cyberattack. The method of phishing is subtle that can be performed by using communication channels like emails, text messages, or app notifications. By clicking on any malicious link or attachment, all your sensitive information and credentials can be leaked to the attackers. Individuals and most importantly companies should adopt certain measures to prevent these types of cyberattacks.