Cybercriminals and scammers are constantly searching for new ways that they can take your money and steal your data. Over the years, they have begun using a variety of techniques to trick their targets into surrendering personal information. These exploits are known as “phishing.” Today, we’ll explore these attacks and provide important tips on how to spot a phishing scam and avoid them.
What is Phishing?
Phishing refers to the practice of sending fraudulent messages that impersonate another entity in order to obtain private user information. These attacks use emails, texts, and direct messages to trick targets into giving away personal data. In most circumstances, scammers pose as well-known institutions or platforms to gain their target’s trust. Attackers also utilize phishing attacks to deploy malicious software onto the devices of unsuspecting victims. The goals of phishing scams may vary, but the method of social engineering is almost always the same.
Phishing attacks have been shifting focus to prey on victims who are less tech-savvy and therefore can’t recognize the scams. This targeting includes older adults and children. Many phishing scams can result in serious financial consequences, so it’s necessary to know how you can avoid them.
What are the Types of Phishing?
As technology develops and more users begin protecting themselves against cybersecurity attacks, scammers have had to become more creative. Unfortunately, this means that there are a variety of different ways that a cybercriminal can produce a phishing attack. Luckily, however, you can easily navigate them with the right protection. Take a look below as we cover some of the most common types of phishing scams.
- Angler Phishing: Often seen on social media, this type of attack uses fake URLs and direct messages to steal sensitive information. Some scammers even browse through a user’s profile to gather information on them that they can use in a social engineering attack.
- Clone Phishing: These attacks involve scammers who duplicate an actual, official email and send you the copy. Attackers make the email appear legitimate in the hopes that you will hand over personal or financial information.
- Domain Spoofing: This method involves an attacker forging a domain and making it appear that they represent a company or organization. You can identify a false domain by looking closely at the spelling.
- Email Attacks: This type of attack is the most common technique that scammers use. Phishing emails are messages sent to other users that demand login information and other private data.
- Search Engine Scam: Search engine phishing involves a scammer creating a fake site that imitates a real one. Once victims begin using the false website, scammers spam them with invitations to surrender personal data or download dangerous software.
- Social Media Phishing: This variety of phishing involves scammers who attack users on social network sites through private messages. Attackers pose as legitimate profiles to try and trick users into clicking on dangerous links.
- Smishing Attacks: Smishing scams involve SMS text messages sent to targets to gather data such as login credentials or payment information.
- Spear Phishing: Attackers use this type of attack to impersonate trustworthy sources after gathering specific details about the target. Spear phishing messages try to trick victims into believing that they know them personally.
- Watering Hole Attacks: Threat actors track down the websites that employees at a company use often, then infect their IP address with malware.
- Whaling Scam: This type of phishing scam involves attackers seeking out the “white whale” at a company, usually executive or high-level employees. Most aspects of this phishing attack come from social engineering and active tracking from cybercriminals.
- Vishing Attacks: The name for this attack comes from a combination of “phishing” and “VoIP,” which stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol.” This protocol is used with apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and other platforms that allow users to make voice calls. Vishing attacks focus on voice calls from a threat actor hoping to trick their target into giving away private data.
Different varieties of phishing attacks emerge as scammers become more desperate to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting users. Now that you know about some of the different types of attacks, you can learn how to spot a phishing scam. Plus, we’ll also show you how to avoid them entirely and keep your data safe.
Spot and Avoid Phishing Scams
Identifying a phishing scam can sometimes be tricky. Threat actors and scammers have found many convincing ways to trick users into surrendering their data. One great way to keep your information secure is to learn how to spot a phishing scam and avoid it.
How to Spot a Phishing Scam
- Spelling errors in business names or email address domains.
- Emails and messages reference problems with your account.
- Messages are generic and never mention you by name.
- Requests for your personal login credentials.
- Suspicious financial requests from strangers.
- Links with URLs that don’t match their hyperlink.
- Callers will ask you to verify or update payment information.
Navigating phishing scams can be difficult, but it’s easier to avoid them when you know how to spot them. Now that you know what to look for, you can protect yourself from phishing attackers.
To avoid phishing scams, never reveal private information to anyone who cannot prove they work for a legitimate organization you trust. You can also protect yourself by never clicking on links sent to you by anyone you don’t know. Another great way to secure your data is to use a VPN on your devices. This can protect you from phishing attacks that target you using your IP address and other identifying information.
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