SecurityThreats

What Is Vishing?

What Is Vishing? Everything You Need To Know About Vishing Attacks And How To Avoid Them

Vishing is a sort of cyberattack which involves tricking a person into giving away personal and confidential information. This is obtained by means of a phone call. Cybercriminals use sophisticated social engineering tactics to convince people to comply and reveal personal or financial information. This helps them in gaining access to bank accounts. The term vishing itself is an amalgamation of voice and phishing.

If you want to protect yourself from vishing attacks like these, read on to learn more about them. In this article, we will talk about everything from “what is vishing”, how to differentiate a vishing attack from a legit call, how visiting is different from other scams and cyber attacks, and everything you should do not to fall victim to any vishing calls and prevent vishing attacks.

What Is Vishing?

A vishing attack or voice phishing is a kind of scam in which fraudsters use phone calls. They call a vulnerable person and pose as a trustworthy firm in order to persuade them to disclose confidential data.

A vishing call is not usually made directly; instead, scammers frequently employ a variety of “baiting” strategies to arouse intrigue and anxiety or earn the trust of individuals on the opposite end of the phone.

Like typical phishing attacks and spear phishing attacks, voice phishing works by persuading victims that responding to the phone is the right thing to do. Typically, the caller claims to be a tax office representative, financial institution employee, social security administration worker, government official, police department, or the victim’s banking company.

Cyber attackers employ threats and persuasive techniques to make victims feel as though they have no choice but to disclose the requested sensitive information. Some malicious scammers portray their dialogue as assisting the victim in avoiding criminal prosecution.

Another typical strategy is to send threatening voice messages instructing the listener to call back soon or risk being jailed, having their bank accounts closed, or worse.

How Do Vishing Attacks Occur?

The cybercriminal executing the vishing attack begins by conducting research to effectively trick users. This might involve writing phishing emails and text messages or spamming the same automated message to multiple people.

The goal is to get the target to respond and end up disclosing their phone number. Sometimes the scammer employs sophisticated software to dial several phone numbers with the same area code as that of the victims or a trusted caller id.

If the target has already been duped by a phishing scam, it will be much easier for the vishing attack scammer to further trick the victim. The victim may be anticipating a phone call, depending on the intricacy of the phishing/vishing technique.

Furthermore, cyber attackers are aware that consumers are more likely to pick up phone calls from phone numbers with the same area code as their own.

As soon as the cyber criminal acquires the victim’s phone number, the next step is to pander to the victim’s natural emotions of trust, anxiety, selfishness, and a desire for assistance. Based on the nature of the vishing scam, the scammer may employ any or all of these social engineering tactics to persuade the victim that they are acting responsibly.

The malicious attacker may request financial information, bank account details, credit card numbers, and postal addresses. They might also ask the victim to take action by sending money immediately, sharing private work-related data, or disclosing private information about their company through these vishing attacks.

However, the vishing attack does not end here. Once cybercriminals gain access to their victim’s confidential data, they can take their attacks to the next level.  For instance, the malicious attacker may extort the victim for more money until they deplete the victim’s bank account, perform identity theft, or use the victim’s credit card details to make unlawful purchases.

They could also abuse the victim’s social security number and then contact the victim’s coworkers to deceive others into handing over valuable work details. This keeps the victim trapped until there is nothing left for them to exploit.

Vishing Vs. Phishing

Phishing and vishing are the same in their end goal: to steal sensitive data from consumers for identity theft, financial gain, or account takeover. The primary distinction between a phishing attack and a vishing scam is the media used to target potential victims. Unlike phishing, which is largely an email-based assault, vishing employs voice, generally through calls to a user’s mobile phone number.

Both vishing scams and phishing attacks send large numbers of text messages or emails to potential victims. Phishing attackers send a huge number of emails to a list of possible victims. Only a list of higher-level user email addresses from the chosen business may be exploited if the attacker focuses on a specific company.

Phishers typically utilize enticing email messages to deceive consumers into responding with sensitive information or convincing the user to click a link that hosts malware. In certain phishing campaigns, malicious files are also utilized.

On the other hand, the visher may initially send a large number of text messages to potential victims from a huge list of caller ids. The message may instruct consumers to dial the attacker’s phone number. Another vishing technique involves creating an automated message and dialing potential victims.

It removes accents and builds trust by using computer-generated audio communications. The audio message then dupes the consumer into interacting with a human agent who continues the fraud, or it may instruct victims to visit an attacker-controlled website.

Vishing Vs. Smishing

Smishing is a type of phishing attack that leverages smartphone numbers. Smishing, on the other hand, employs text messages to fool consumers rather than voice mail. These messages might include a phone number to call or a link to an attacker-controlled website holding malware or a phishing page.

Smishing is mostly based on consumers’ confidence in text messages. If the user does not verify and reset credentials, the messages frequently promise prize money or discounts or threaten to deactivate accounts. Victims may believe text messages more than suspicious emails because they are more casual.

The terms smishing and vishing are frequently used interchangeably. A vishing attack may also begin with a text message that includes a phone number and instructs people to call, although vishing attempts could also utilize automated messages and voice calls.

Smishing attempts can also contain a phone number in a text message. However, many assaults primarily target consumers by fooling them into clicking links and accessing a malicious internet page.

Common Methods Of Vishing

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Voice over Internet Protocol is a system that enables users to conduct voice calls over the internet as opposed to using a standard phone line. VoIP services convert a user’s voice into an electrical signal that travels through the internet. If you dial a standard phone number, the signal is transformed into a normal telephone transmission before reaching its destination.

Due to their nature, VoIP makes it effortless for cyber attackers to create and hide behind a fake caller’s identity. These numbers are difficult to monitor and are used to generate phone numbers that seem local. Some online scammers may generate VoIP lines that pretend to be from a government agency, a reputable institution, or a banking company.

Wardialing

Wardialing is the use of various types of technologies to automatically dial many phone numbers, primarily to uncover flaws in an IT security infrastructure. Cybercriminals use this software to dial specified area codes when transmitting messages involving any official institution or local companies.

Upon answering the call, an automated message starts playing, asking for specific details like the target’s name, bank information, credit card account, address, and even their social security number. According to the recorded message, this information is required to ensure that the victim’s account is not hijacked or to validate genuine account data. These messages usually feel quite genuine, and anyone can easily get tricked by them if they aren’t paying attention.

Caller Identity Spoofing

Caller ID spoofing occurs when a caller maliciously rigs the information supplied to the caller ID screen in order to conceal their identity. Like VoIP vishing, the cybercriminal hides behind a false phone number by spoofing the caller ID. They may leave their identity Unknown or pose as a reputable person such as a government official, tax agency, financial institute, and so on.

How To Identify And Prevent A Vishing Attack

Pay Attention

Pay close attention to the caller. Take note of the words used and pause before reacting. Never give out personal details. You should not verify your address or any information they give you, even if it is correct. Any threats and hasty requests are likely a sign of a vishing attempt.

Never give or confirm personal information over the phone. Keep in mind that your bank, doctor, tax agency, or any other government official will never phone you and ask for your private details.

Question The Caller

When you receive any suspicious calls, question their motives and legitimacy. If the caller is offering you a free reward or attempting to sell you anything, request verification of their identity and where they work. Hang up if the caller refuses to disclose this information. Before submitting your information, validate any information provided by the caller.

Avoid Responding To Unknown Numbers Or Messages

Try not to answer any calls from unknown numbers. Allow the call to go to voicemail and attentively listen to the message. Moreover, never reply to emails or social media communications requesting your phone number. This is the initial stage of a targeted phishing or vishing attempt. Report any suspicious emails or texts to the IT service team.

Endnote

Vishing calls, smishing, and phishing are all sorts of social engineering attacks designed to get personally identifying information that will allow fraudsters to access a user’s account. Account takeover protection is becoming more difficult as fraudsters utilize increasingly sophisticated ways to deceive users into giving account information.

Be careful of any phone numbers provided by the caller to prove their identity. Look up the phone number on your own and call it from a separate phone. Phone numbers may be routed, and bogus numbers can be generated by cybercriminals.

Answer no questions regarding your personal details, employment, or home address. Report any such calls, and keep in mind that no legitimate organization would request your personal information in this manner. Stay vigilant and safe!

Derik Belair

As President and CEO, Derik leads the vision, strategy and growth of Augmentt. Prior to founding Augmentt, Derik was the Vice President at SolarWinds, leading the digital marketing strategy for SolarWinds’ Cloud division. Derik has been working in the channel for over 20 years, starting his career as a channel sales rep at Corel Corp. and eventually becoming the first employee at N-able Technologies in April of 2000.

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