As technology is getting more advanced and common, online hackers and scammers have improved their craft. One of the most common types of scams these days are credit card and personal information scams. The most common ways these are done are through phishing attacks and phishing scams.
Phishing is a scam in which hackers with malicious intent try to impersonate realistic organizations through text messages, emails, and even advertisements to get a hold of sensitive information that can be used against you.
The main goal for these hackers or scammers is usually financial gain, and they will go to any extent to exploit you and gain access to your data, whether through fraudulent phishing emails or malicious links, malicious emails, or even a fake website.
The most common occurrence is when the hackers provide a link underneath the message, asking you to provide your information for their websites. However, these websites are nothing more than fake, and the information you provide is leaked to hackers who make these phishing links.
How Phishing Attacks Work
Phishing email attacks are very common, and the people who are most prone to falling for this phishing scam are usually children or people over the age of 40s who have little to no knowledge about technology.
This is also one of the main reasons why hackers try to target older people, as they find them much easier to manipulate. These emails can consist of any type of text message, which hackers can claim to be legit organizations.
In these messages, the attacker will try to trick users by asking them to fill out forms or ask them for information such as their account credentials on the specific website. Moreover, since the targets are unaware that these are scammers, they give them their information.
Once the hackers receive the login credentials, they can do anything they please. One of the most common phishing messages someone can receive is emails from people pretending to be bank representatives.
Frauds like these can then ask for your bank account login details or your credit card details, which can end up leading to data theft. Moreover, these hackers often try to target your bank account information or even your social media accounts, such as your instagram account.
Another common type of phishing email is when you receive a phishing email from a hacker claiming to have access to your accounts. Once they have stated that, they begin to threaten you by saying that since they have access to your computer account, they have recorded you and will ask you for ransom for them to send you the videos or sensitive data back.
Role Of Social Engineering
Social engineering is a broader term that is used to define a range of malicious activities or attacks that are accomplished through the use of human interactions.
Hackers or scammers conduct social engineering attacks using psychological manipulation to trick users into giving them their sensitive information. They also trick them into making huge security mistakes that can end up causing long-term problems or huge financial losses.
Social engineering is a type of cyber attack that can occur in more ways than one and are often very hard to detect. Therefore, it is important to have proper cyber security services to prevent a phishing scams.
Common Examples Of Phishing Email Attacks
Email phishing is one of the most common and well-known ways of phishing. As mentioned above, this is a method in which scammers send you a phishing email pretending to be a legitimate organization to get information from you. This isn’t an attack that targets a specific person and can be conducted on a large number of people.
After reading the description, you might think a phishing link would be easy to recognize. However, it is not that easy because there are multiple different types of phishing attacks that one can fall victim to;
Malware Phishing Attacks
Malware phishing is fairly similar to the model of normal phishing emails, as they are also random links sent to people. However, instead of asking for your information directly by pretending as a legitimate organization asking for information.
These are links that ask you to download or click on a certain malicious link that redirect users, which then proceed to install malicious software or download malware on your device or some sort of malicious code.
One of the most common examples of this can be when one of the malicious links you receive can end up downloading ransomware onto your computer. These ransomware programs can then encrypt all the data on your computer with a password and prevent you from accessing any of your files, such as an email account, other sensitive information, or personal details.
Once they have encrypted all of the data on your computer, these cybercriminals will try to get in touch with you. After getting in touch with you, they will ask for a sum of money to give you the key to decrypt these files and gain access to your data again.
Moreover, these links contain more than just malware and can often contain other types of harmful viruses and softwares as well, some so new that even your antivirus software may not be able to pick up on them.
Furthermore, since some of these phishing links can pass through your antivirus software undetected, you must take to other methods to avoid these links. Proper training is required to save yourself from these malicious links.
Another very important thing to remember about these phishing links is that some of these links can also be links to websites. These websites can often also be knockoffs of official websites of official brands that ask you to log in, and then it takes your login credentials.
Vishing, also known as voice phishing, is a phishing attack. However, instead of being done through phishing emails, this type of phishing attack is conducted through telephones.
The most normal case of this can be when an individual receives a call from a scammer who claims to be from the support department of a company. The most common out of all these can be an individual claiming to be from Microsoft support.
These cyber criminals then ask you for your personal or other sensitive information that they can use to their advantage. These scams are quite common and usually target the general public, as they are the most prone to falling victim to such scams.
Cybercriminals use threats and persuasive language to make victims feel they have no choice but to disclose their information. In other cases, they also try their best to make the victims feel secure so that they can trust the scammers with their information.
Another common tactic these criminals use is leaving aggressive and threatening voicemails. These messages often tell the receiver that they are under threat and that the receiver of the message should instantly call them back.
Vishing, unlike other forms of cyber attacks, very commonly targets organizations. Since scams have become more common, these scammers have gotten much more advanced and experienced at their craft.
These scammers often research the organization thoroughly before conducting an attack on it and often pose as the CEO or any high-level executive. They then proceed to get information out of the organization, which is used for blackmail. This is also known as CEO fraud.
Spear Phishing Emails
Unlike the phishing methods mentioned above, spear phishing does not affect common people. Instead, spear phishing attacks are usually targeted toward popular individuals such as politicians or celebrities.
Once sensitive information is stolen from such people, hackers will continue to blackmail the victims for money or other things that can benefit them in exchange for not selling or leaking this private information.
Since these types of emails are often written in a familiar tone and involve personal information about the receiver, they have no choice but to respond or comply with the cybercriminal and their demands.
These emails also contain malicious links to ransomware or spyware, which can further infect your computer and give hackers access to more information. The main difference that phishing and spear phishing is that spear phishing uses a more personalized and targeted approach toward the recipient.
Therefore, cyber security awareness training and continuous education on the topics of phishing are vital in reinforcing the importance of being cyber-aware of emails and the inbox so that such scams and attempts can be avoided in the future.
Moreover, since cyber-criminals are constantly evolving and changing their methods, it is important to be up-to-date with the trends and adequately knowledgeable to look out for warning signs. These warning signs can include many things, such as a fake website, fake social media posts, or any other type of suspicious activity or malicious website.
Business Email Compromise
Another very common phishing campaign or phishing attempt can be through business email compromise. This type of deceptive phishing is becoming very common in the industry as it has been targeting both large-scale and small-scale businesses in the industry. Due to this, almost every large organization has been spreading phishing awareness amongst their employees and company network.
One of the common types of these phishing attacks is when an employee’s email account is compromised and used to create fake invoices which request the company’s vendors for payments. These payments are then sent to fraudulent bank accounts that the attacker owns.
These scammers can also pose as CEOs of the company and conduct a targeted attack on the employees by threatening to take their jobs or fire them. This often triggers the employees to respond immediately to these emails, which can then make them install malware on their personal or company computers.
Moreover, these scammers can use legitimate contact info to approach people for jobs and then get them to fill out these contracts to take hold of these victims’ personal information.
Search Engine Phishing
Another very common method of a phishing scam is search engine phishing. This is one of the types of phishing attacks in which scammers pose as legitimate websites by creating fake web pages and domains, then advertising the links on search engines.
The links to these fake websites often appear on the top of the search engine as advertised. Due to them being heavily advertised and appearing on the top of the web page, people can mistake them for real websites and open them in their browser window. These then have the ability to download malicious softwares onto your computer or even malicious HTML files that can result in the loss of sensitive data.
In conclusion, many phishing attacks can be conducted on someone at an individual or organizational level. There are many ways to avoid these, such as awareness of phishing attacks. Moreover, these phishing attacks have gotten much more advanced as time goes by. Therefore, one needs to be properly aware of what is happening with their devices.