Phishing scams are one of the most commonly faced threats by people and organizations. You must know more about them to protect your confidential information. Phishing attacks are usually carried out in the form of an email, text, social media sites, pop-ups, or websites built to imitate a real individual, system, or company. Attackers create phishing messages to generate a feeling of tension or panic with the ultimate aim of stealing the confidential information of an end-user. This may result in money transfer fraud, malicious software links, and URLs that lead to sites containing malware.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a cyberattack in which malicious actors send disguised emails or text SMS with a suspicious link to their target. The message’s purpose is to create a sense of urgency and compel the victim to click on the link. After tapping on the link, the target is taken to a new website that looks like a legitimate website of the victim’s bank or any other organization where the target does confidential business. The target may also be coerced to download some malicious program from the link. Read about cybercrime in detail.
Statistics of Phishing Attacks:
- Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) observed 1,270,883 total phishing attacks in the third quarter of 2022, a new record and the worst quarter for phishing that APWG has ever observed.
- The financial sector represented 23.2% of all phishing attacks – the highest among all sectors.
- Reports state that spear phishing attacks are also growing. About 65% of cybercriminals have leveraged spear phishing emails as their primary attack vector.
- IBM’s 2022 Cost of Data Breach Report found that the average cost of data breaches rose from $4.24m in 2021 to $4.35m in 2022.
- The International Cricket Council (ICC) cricket board has fallen victim to online fraud. It has lost more than $2.5 million in a recent phishing attack.
Types of Phishing
There are numerous kinds of phishing techniques that hackers use to manipulate their prey. So for recognizing and avoiding these scams, you must be aware of them. Phishing emails are one of the most commonly used phishing techniques. Here are the other primary phishing methods:
As the name indicates, SMS phishing or smishing is carried out by sending customized messages on mobile phones with suspicious links. The content of the text message can be on the lines of:
- You won a lottery ticket
- Your bank needs important information
- Your account has been hacked
- There is a discount offer from a top brand
These messages attract many people who follow these links and end up being the victim of these scams. Vishing is another form of phishing that works the same as smishing but is carried out through a voice call.
2. Spear Phishing
Spear phishing is an email or electronic communication hack aimed at a particular person, company, or business. While often meant for fraudulent purposes to steal information, hackers may even try to install malicious software on a targeted consumer device.
Pharming is a fraudulent activity in which infected software is mounted on a computer or website, misleading people to fake web pages without their awareness or permission. Pharming is usually referred to as “phishing without a charm.”
Whaling is a heavily concentrated phishing attack – disguised as a valid email – aiming at senior managers. Whaling is a digitally powered social engineering scam, intended to induce targets to take specific actions, like setting up a wire transfer of money.
5. Search-Engine Phishing
Search engine phishing occurs when a hacker successfully grabs the top position on google or any other search engine. The user may find deals or notifications that invite him to check the site. The search process may be valid, but the site is bogus and only operates to capture confidential information from the user. Read more about how search engines work.
As of now, you have become familiar with the significant phishing techniques. Let us move ahead to see what suspicious messages look like – this information will help you detect them quite easily.
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Ways of detecting phishing scams
Here are the most common messages that you can receive from phishers:
- The email, SMS, or voice caller demands that private details be changed or filled in. If it seems to be coming from a bank or the tax authorities, this is particularly doubtful.
- The URL displayed in the email and the URL is shown when you move over the link vary from each other.
- The “From” address in the email is an emulation of a valid address, particularly from a corporation.
- Layout and structure are distinct from what you usually get from a company. Perhaps the logo appears pixelated, or the buttons are of various colors. Or maybe there are odd paragraph gaps or additional spaces between phrases.
- There are links from obscure sources in the email that you were not anticipating.
- The site is not protected. Suppose you go forward and tap on an email link to enter your confidential details. Make sure at the start of the URL you find the “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP” and the lock icon.
These are the common signs that tell the incoming email, text message, or website you are visiting is a scam.
Ways of avoiding phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are one of the most commonly used tools by hackers due to their simplicity and ease of the process. They might sometimes look harmless but may end up being extremely dangerous for individuals, websites, and organizations. Check out the best phishing prevention techniques to protect yourself from these scams.
1. Keep yourself up-to-date
Complete knowledge about all the new and old phishing methods is one of the best ways to protect yourself from these scams. When you know all fraudulent activities, it will become easy for you to detect that scam and protect yourself.
2. Click wisely
Do not tap on the links attached to the emails or text messages you receive from unknown sources. The messages may seem to be coming from legitimate organizations, but actually, they are a part of phishing attacks. Also, avoid clicking on pop-ups or other links you see on various websites (even authentic sites).
3. Use firewalls and antivirus program
There are two types of firewalls – a desktop firewall and a network firewall. It would be best if you used both of these to protect yourself from phishing scams. An antivirus program detects and blocks the downloading of suspicious software via the Internet, USB flash, etc.
Source 3: https://techdifferences.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/firewall-vs-antivirus.jpg
4. Confirm the site’s security
If you click on the link attached with the email, ensure that it is protected with SSL certificates. The site secured with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates has a lock icon, and its URL starts with “HTTPS” rather than an insecure “HTTP”.
Source 4: https://www-static.cdn-one.com/cmsimages/en_ssl-img-2.png
If you are a website owner, you must activate SSL certificates on your website to enhance its security. If you manage a website and have multiple first-level subdomains, then you must use a wildcard SSL certificate that provides the same protection at a cheap price. You can visit SSL2BUY, where you can find all the trustworthy SSL certificates to buy the perfect one for your domain.
5. Do not give personal information.
The best practice to safeguard your confidential information is to stop sharing it over the Internet. Your bank or any other organization will not ask you to provide such details by sending emails. Whenever you find such emails, block them immediately.
Phishing attacks have been with us for a long, and there is no evidence of them going away any time in the future – on the contrary, they are getting more sophisticated and widespread. Cybercriminals keep on trying different phishing methods to manipulate their targets. They will try to grab your attention and compel you to click on malicious links by creating a sense of urgency or can ask you to give information to save your bank account from freezing. Follow this complete guide to quickly detect and avoid being a victim of phishing attacks. Read more about how to prevent cybercrimes.