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Phishing attacks are also known as social engineering attacks and they use deceptive emails to steal someone’s login information or other sensitive data. They have a wide range of targets depending on the hacker. In this regard, cybercriminals might send out emails seeking any individual with a PayPal account or possibly even target people based on their particular interests.

Phishing is a form of cybercrime that involves attempting to acquire sensitive information by deception. Emails that appear to be from a trusted source but contain malicious content are known as phishing emails. Phishers often tailor these emails to get their target’s personal information, such as login credentials or bank account numbers. And since ransomware accounts for over 97% of all phishing emails, recipients need to be aware of the dangers and protect themselves against this attack. Cybersecurity Audit assists in spotting risks and securing your company against many forms of phishing attacks.

In addition, according to a recent survey, email phishing was the most prevalent form of branded phishing attacks, accounting for 44% of all incidents, while web-based scams were not far behind with 32%. The brands most commonly utilized by attackers in deceptive messages are Microsoft Corporation, DHL, and Apple Inc.

In this blog, we will explore how phishing works and what are the different types of phishing attacks.

How Does Phishing Work

The core element of a phishing attack is an email sent through social media or any other electronic channel. Therefore, people who use public resources to collect background information about their victims are likely the targets of phishing scams. For example, phishers use personal, and work experience information gathered from social media platforms to create fake emails that look like they come from legitimate sources.

Typically, the emails the victim receives appear to come from a trusted contact or organization. Attacks usually involve malicious attachments or hyperlinks leading to dubious web pages. In addition, malicious attackers frequently establish impostor websites, which mimic the logo of a trusted entity like their employer. These sites can solicit sensitive information such as usernames and passwords or charge card details.

6 Different Types of Phishing Attacks

Phishing Attacks

1. Whaling Attacks (CEO fraud)

Whaling attacks are also known as CEO fraud, mainly targeting senior management and other highly privileged roles. The goal of these attacks is the same as different phishing attacks – to steal information or gain access to sensitive data. However, whaling attackers often use subtle techniques to reach their target. Senior personnel is often privy to a wealth of data, making them prime targets for attackers. By taking advantage of this information, they can craft sophisticated assaults that are difficult to resist.

For example, they may send emails with malicious attachments or links that direct victims to compromised websites. They also use social media platforms to distribute malware and scare employees into giving up confidential information. Whaling attacks can be very successful if they get past the initial defenses of the victim’s system.

2. Spear Phishing

Spear phishing emails are designed to exploit a particular vulnerability in an individual’s computer system, and they typically contain malicious content intended to steal personal information. This can include email, SMS, social media, and other platforms.

Spear phishing is one of the most devastating forms of cybercrime because it can result in financial losses or even identity theft. Keep your computer security up-to-date by installing antivirus software, keeping passwords secure, and not clicking on suspicious links or attachments in email messages. 

3. Email Phishing

Phishing emails are the most prevalent and have been used since the 1990s. Hackers leverage these messages to send them to any email addresses they can acquire. The email typically alerts you to an adverse situation and requests that you respond expeditiously by selecting the specified hyperlink. These attacks are often evident in email content as its language is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.

If you receive an unsolicited email asking for personal information or financial data, please do not reply; delete it entirely and never open any attachments! Phishers will try to get your confidential information by using various tricks such as appearing legitimate, baiting users with tempting offers, or playing on people’s emotions.

4. Angler Phishing

As social media platforms continue to grow in popularity, so do the number of attacks using fake social media accounts. These attacks utilize an account handle that resembles a trustworthy organization (e.g., @pizzahutcustomercare) and operates the same profile photo as its real company account.

There are many reasons attackers take advantage of consumers’ tendency to complain and request assistance from brands using social media channels. One reason is that attackers know that people will contact the genuine brand instead of the attacker’s fake social account. This can give the attacker access to customer data, passwords, and other personal information.

5. Smishing and Vishing

In a smishing attack, criminals send fraudulent SMS messages instead of written communication. Smishing is sending unsolicited text messages (SMS) with malicious intent. These attacks often steal personal and financial data by tricking people into revealing their passwords or credit card numbers.

Vishing refers to phone conversations used as an entry point into cyberattacks. Vishing attacks can be carried out in two ways: through voice phishing, which involves pretending to be someone else (like a bank official), and through spoofed caller ID information, which makes it look like the person on the other end is from a trusted company or organization. In addition, criminals use visiting techniques to gain access to sensitive information such as login credentials, banking details, and more.

6. Search Engine Phishing

Search engine phishing is on the rise, and it is one of the most dangerous types of phishing attacks. It is a cybercrime where attackers are constantly working to become the top hit on a search engine.

Clicking on their hyperlink within the search engine grants access to the hackers’ website. From there, sensitive data may be compromised if one interacts with it or enters any data. Additionally, hacker sites are often disguised as banks, financial institutions such as money transfer services, and social media platforms – prime targets for these scams. Security Incident Response Services protects your business from incidents of search engine phishing.

Shelby York

Shelby York is an experienced Technical Writer with a background in professional editing, proofreading, and content writing. She communicates strategically through digital mediums and explains complicated concepts and technical information to targeted audiences.

Shelby York

Shelby York is an experienced Technical Writer with a background in professional editing, proofreading, and content writing. She communicates strategically through digital mediums and explains complicated concepts and technical information to targeted audiences.