Phishing attacks are the most common types of cyber attacks. They are different from other cyber attacks because they don’t directly attack your network with malware or viruses. Instead, cyber criminals perpetrate phishing email attacks to trick users into giving up sensitive information.
Phishing is a subset of social engineering, a type of cyber attack that fools people instead of networks and software. Why? Because it’s easier to fool humans than to create malware that can navigate antivirus environments.
Here are some of the most common types of phishing attacks.
Common Types of Phishing Attacks
This is a type of mass phishing attack whereby a perpetrator targets a large group of people with common interests that may include brand preferences and choices along with demographics. They will then impersonate a well-known brand that those users are familiar with and send out malicious versions of that brand’s legitimate emails. These emails may include payment reminders or receipts. With this type of attack, the perpetrator can use the well-known brand’s reputation and their users trust to steal the users’ data and personal information.
This is the most common type of phishing attack. While brand impersonation targets large groups, spear phishing involves narrower and more targeted emails aimed at specific individuals or organizations. Spear phishing attackers accomplish this by conducting thorough social profiling research of their intended victims. They examine the victim’s accounts on various social media platforms and sites to make their fraudulent message as convincing as possible.
There’s also a subtype of spear phishing called whaling, which is where the perpetrator targets C-level executives instead of lower-level employees in order to access sensitive corporate information. No matter what level employee they target, these perpetrators use social engineering tactics to make their messages seem as legitimate as possible so that their victims will open the email and click on a link without thinking twice.
This is similar to but less targeted than spear phishing. In this case, the perpetrator will replicate a legitimate message and swap out any links and attachments in it for malicious ones. The message will usually say that the original message is being resent due to link or attachment problems in the last one. Be extra careful to open a message that appears from s a legitimate company.
In this type of phishing scam, perpetrators make false domain names that are similar to the domain names for real, well-known companies. They often feature misspelled names, like “appel.com” or what looks like a real website that’s connected to a strange domain name with letters strung together, like “apple.com.jfpr.” They also falsify the company’s email address to make it appear more legitimate.
Unlike the other phishing scams listed here, this type takes place over the phone. The perpetrator will use automated phone calls to trick you into giving up confidential information. They also use mobile apps to hide their phone numbers or falsify them. You can tell if you are on the receiving end of a vishing call if the sender claims to be from your bank or the IRS or a credit card company and claims that you owe taxes or have outstanding bills or fees.
How Can You Avoid Phishing Attacks?
First of all, do not open any emails from senders you don’t know. If you do open them, do not click on any links or attachments within them. Second, pay attention to email addresses and subject lines. If the email appears to be from someone you know but you don’t recognize the email address, leave it alone. If the subject line claims to be about a delivery or a payment that you weren’t expecting, don’t touch it.
Using caution when you open your emails will go a long way toward protecting your network from phishing attacks.
Also, businesses should provide training for their employees so that they recognize phishing emails and learn how to avoid them. Your employees are your first line of defense against phishing emails and other social engineering attacks, so you should keep them well informed about these types of attacks.
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