5 Common Phishing Attacks and How to Avoid Them?

Pierluigi Paganini August 19, 2019

Phishing is one of the oldest methods of cyberattacks. It uses deceptive and manipulated emails as a tool for gathering personal and organizational data.

The emails are designed in a way that it appears to be authentic or belonging from a real business or authoritative source. People fell prey for these manipulative emails and provide confidential details like passwords and bank information in their negligence. This information is then used for unauthorized and illegal activities, which could have a devastating impact on individuals and organizations.

Types of Phishing Attacks

There are different types of phishing attacks and each is deceiving and manipulative in its own unique way.

  1. Fraudulent Email Receptionists

The most common type is phishing is carried out through fraudulent email receptionist. These emails appear to be coming from some authentic source like from your bank or some legit business organization. They ask you to make certain changes in your account by entering your login password or ask for some reconfirmation. The motto behind the email is to lend you to a fake web page that is designed for the sole purpose of stealing user information. The major trick played by these fraudulent email receptionists is that they create a sense of urgency and push you to take action immediately.

2. Spearing

Spearing uses personalized emails to attack their targets. These emails use your first name instead of hi or hello for initiating the content. It also contains other personalized details like your company name and your position in the organization. Such emails are sent after detailed research about you, and often their primary source of collecting data is your social media accounts. You are asked in the email to confirm some company details or review a document by clicking on a specific link which further requires you to log in with your official account. The purpose behind all these efforts is to steal your login details to access the company’s confidential data.

3. Pharming

Pharming is another fraudulent practice for getting illegal access to other person’s data. It involves DNS cache poisoning as it redirects users to a malicious site even if they enter the correct web address. In this case, the email is sent with the official website name and address, but the link leads to a fake copy of the actual website. The webpage appears identical to the real site, and users fell prey for it quickly. 

4. Whaling

Another targeted phishing practice is Whaling. It is a focused strategy for targeting higher-order officials like CEOs and the company’s directors. The email is addressed in a personalized manner where the sender has complete info about the receiver. The email is mimicked to be sent from some executive body or law and order agency and needed to be responded promptly. It often asks for money transfer or company’s confidential details for various purposes. This kind of phishing requires a lot of background effort, and the success rate is also very low. But even if a single big fish is seized it yields a massive reward for cybercriminals.

5. Cloning

Cloning is another widely used phishing strategy. It uses the original email that is previously sent to the targeted personnel and produces a replica of it with minor changes. The only major change made in the email is the change of the link at the end of the email. This link is the landing page to a malware which allows the host to access the account details of the person lending on the site.

Tips to Prevent Phishing

Phishing is a widely spread fraudulent strategy, but there are various ways of preventing it.

  1. Be Extra Vigilant

The best way to prevent phishing is to be extra vigilant. You need to be extra careful before clicking any link and entering your account details on any site. It is essential always to double-check the email receptionist. You can save yourself from falling prey to a large number of phishing emails by only identifying manipulative and fake email addresses. Secondly, enter your account details and passwords on any site only when you are 100% sure about its authenticity. Always look for HTTP secured web pages while entering your account details to save yourself from being the victim of pharming.

2. Protect Your Device and Connection

Another successful strategy for preventing phishing is to secure your device using anti-malware, antivirus, VPN and other security softwares. This software not only warns you when you are trying to access unauthorized web pages but also let you about any suspicious activity in your device. It allows you to access the internet anonymously and disguise your actual identity and location, eliminating any chances of identity theft. 

3. Use Two Factor Authentication

The best way to protect your accounts from unauthorized access is to use two-factor authentication for all your accounts. This way even if your password is hacked or stolen through phishing still your account cannot be easily accessed. This additional layer of security might seem troublesome and time taking for you each time you log into your account but it will save your confidential and important data from illegal operations.

About Author Biography: Susan Alexandra is a cybersecurity and privacy enthusiast. She writes for publications like GlobalSign, Tripwire, SecurityAffairs, SecurityToday and CyberDefenseMagazine. She is a small business owner, traveler and investor of cryptocurrencies. Susan’s inbox is open for new ideas and stories, feel free to share story ideas to [email protected]

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Phishing, hacking)

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