Phishing attack is a common form of cybercrime that affects many individuals and organizations around the globe. The attackers rely on deception tactics and force innocent users to share their confidential details. As attackers assume the identity of trusted sources, the victims may not suspect foul play. Instead, they may share the details and face severe consequences in the future.
In such cases, the attacker may pose as an authentic party and send an email requesting for more details. As the victims may believe the authenticity of the sender, they may end up revealing their personal information. Most phishing attacks target victims over emails. They may ask for details such as date of birth, social security number, address, phone number, credit card details, office address, and password information. They may also request scanned copies of an identity card such as driver’s license, birth certificate, or social security card.
An attacker can easily use these details for fraudulent purposes. They can often engage in identity theft where they pose as the victim for a variety of reasons. For example, they can apply for loans, opt for credit cards, open bank accounts, and perform similar activities. By understanding all the necessary personal information of a victim, the attackers can use it in completely unpredictable ways. After you fall victim to such phishing attacks, it is difficult to reverse the damage.
How does Phishing happen?
Though we know the methods and ways of a phishing attacker, it may seem difficult to avoid it. We often engage in routine activities without realizing that the sender may not be the one that they seem. For example, attackers send emails that appear to be sent from an authentic source. They may use logos and language that may seem completely harmless.
Attackers may request for details and also demand an urgent action. If you do not take time to determine the authenticity, you may end up responding in a haste. They may ask you to click on an attachment that can send a malicious code into your system. Another way may involve filling out a Word document form with the necessary details. A phishing email may ask you to update a password or accept a social media connection. Phishing attacks can also happen while using Wi-Fi connection at a public place.
By requesting for personal information through phishing emails, the attacker can gain access for a variety of fraudulent activities.
Different Types of Phishing Attacks
1. Phishing emails
The attackers compose emails that may seem authentic. They may hide their identity behind big known names such as Amazon, PayPal, and similar organizations.
2. Spear Phishing
In this form, the attacker may build the case by acting on any previous information. It is a targeted attack to ask for more additional details.
3. Link manipulation
The attacker may send a link through an email and request the receiver to act. This link may direct them to a fraudulent website.
4. Session hijacking
This is an advanced form of phishing where the attacker can hijack the server and gain information from all the sessions.
Besides these common forms of phishing, there are many others such as malware, content injection, CEO fraud, and malvertising.
Steps to protect yourself from Phishing
In order to protect yourself from phishing attacks, it is necessary to educate and understand all the methods employed by the attacker. When you know about some of the common methods, you can look out for the warning signals before responding.
1. Deceptive emails strive to appear as authentic as possible. You must check for any suspicious errors in the language. Additionally, it is important to check the URL of all the websites. If a link directs you to a website, you must ensure that it is free of any suspicious content. You can look for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and any other warning signals before responding.
2. In order to protect against spear phishing, it is important to conduct safety awareness campaigns in the workplace. It is necessary to know that you must not share any personal details on social media. When you reveal many key points of your identity, an attacker can use it as a baseline and request more details through a spear phishing email.
3. Attackers can target the email account of CEOs or executives in a company. After gaining access to their personal records, they can also impersonate the executive and ask details from the employees. Hence, education, awareness, and communication are important to prevent such a scenario. Employees must not respond to any emails that ask for W-2 details. You can directly communicate with the respective team and verify the authenticity of the email.
Avoiding scams other than phishing
4. Besides emails, you may also come across phishing through fraudulent text messages and phone calls. It is necessary to avoid phone calls from unknown sources. Also, one should avoid sending any personal details over a text message. If there is any doubt, you can contact the company mentioned in the message. You can ask them directly if they requested any details.
5. An attacker can send malicious code that can modify host files on the computer. This form of attack is called pharming and can affect large files with confidential information. Hence, you must enter sensitive details only after verifying the URL. It is necessary to look out for HTTPS-protected websites.
6. You can install an anti-virus software on your computer. It can flag any suspected websites and block them from accessing data. It is necessary to scan and use the anti-virus applications on a regular basis. By setting a schedule for scanning, you can ensure that it is done automatically. Other steps include changing your password on a continuous basis. You can also opt for a complicated password with random arrangement of letters, numbers, and symbols.
While working with sensitive information, it is extremely necessary to take care and avoid clicking on unknown links. Unless you can determine the authenticity and purpose of a particular email, you must avoid responding immediately. Phishing attackers take advantage of vulnerable victims by demanding quick action. They may use language that sounds authoritative. Hence it is necessary to watch for any suspicious signal.
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