Phishing attacks are designed to steal your account credentials, personal information, and money. They can also cause damage to your computer or network. Attackers often use various methods to trick victims into clicking on malicious links.
Some attacks include emails requesting you to update your online password or click a link that leads to a fake website. These messages can contain a sense of urgency and are often accompanied by an official-looking logo.
Form of malware
Phishing is a form of malware that can be carried out via email, social media, or instant messaging (also known as smishing). A successful attack requires the victim to click on a malicious file attachment or link. These links lead to a fake website asking for sensitive passwords, account IDs, or credit card details. The attacker then uses this information to steal money or commit other types of fraud.
Some phishing attacks are targeted at specific organizations or individuals, called spear phishing. These attacks may use cloned websites, posts, or social media accounts to fool victims. These attacks can also include a tab-nabbing technique where a fake website looks like the real one but has a different URL.
Attackers often try to make their phishing emails look convincing by using legitimate logos and corporate fonts. They may also use misspelled or subdomain names to mimic well-known brands, and they often attempt to invoke fear or a sense of urgency to trick victims.
Attackers can also exploit vulnerabilities in a site and redirect users to a phishing website or deliver a payload that downloads malicious software onto the victim’s machine. Preventing phishing attacks involves combining user training to recognize warning signs, knowing where to get cybersecurity statistics, and robust cybersecurity systems that can stop payloads from reaching the endpoint.
Form of Social Engineering
Phishing is a form of social engineering, and it plays a huge role in almost every type of cyberattack, from credential theft to CEO fraud. It can also sabotage data or obtain personal information, like phone numbers and passwords. In phishing attacks, attackers trick a victim into clicking a link that logs them into a fake website or sends them malware. These links are typically in email attachments, but they can also be in text messages, social media posts, fake or misleading websites, and even in voicemail or vishing attacks (that use a recorded message to ask for personal information).
Sometimes, the attacker will gather as much background information about their target as possible by researching public resources and other professional accounts. This can help them create a more credible fake message or website. Another way they can make an attack look more realistic is through “link manipulation,” which involves using services to shorten a malicious URL and conceal the actual link destination.
Some examples of phishing include “angler” attacks, in which cybercriminals disguise themselves as company customer service agents on social media to contact disgruntled consumers and ask for personal or account information. They may even pretend to be a credit card company investigator and tell victims their information has been compromised.
Form of Spear Phishing
Phishing is a form of spear phishing, an attack that targets specific individuals or organizations and attempts to gain access to sensitive information. This information can include passwords, credit card numbers, account access codes, PINs, and other confidential data. Attackers often use personal information gathered from social media, business contacts, and other sources to make email appear more legitimate.
Spear phishers often attempt to impersonate the victim’s trusted colleagues, vendors, or financial institutions. They may even go so far as to spoof the victim’s own name and company logo to gain their trust. They also target specific organizational groups, such as accounting and human resources employees or C-level executives. These attacks require more research and planning than standard phishing and are often used to steal larger payouts.
When in doubt, you should always verify the legitimacy of an email by using another form of communication, such as a phone call or text message. Additionally, it would be best if you were suspicious of emails requesting personal information and always hovered over links to confirm where they lead.
Form of Spear Phishing
While regular phishing casts a broad net, spear phishing is a more targeted approach. It often uses authentic details to convince the recipient of its legitimacy. It can occur over email, social media (such as Facebook or Twitter), phone calls (also known as vishing), or even text messages (called smishing). Spear phishing attacks can also involve impersonating a trusted entity, such as a company executive or vendor. Attackers can then convince the victim to transfer funds, download malware or disclose confidential information to unauthorized parties.
Phishing emails usually include a malicious web link. It may log the victim into a fake website that harvests their data, including passwords and usernames. Criminals then use the victim’s private information for financial gain or to create a new identity.
Another way to protect against phishing is by changing passwords frequently. Doing so forces employees to go through the trouble of resetting their passwords and reduces an attacker’s window of opportunity. Also, limit the amount of personal information shared on social media and other websites to prevent attackers from gaining a person’s trust.