At some point in our internet life, we all have been targets of phishing attacks. Like goblins to a gold chest, cybercriminals are attracted to online treasures including but not limited to online wallets.
Owing to the success of phishing, it ranks the go-to tool for villains on the online arena. After much scrutiny, we identified conventional phishing methods used by malicious cybercriminals.
In this article, we delve into various phishing methods and the approach to shield yourself from attacks. Before discussing how to recognize and prevent a phishing attempt; it is vital to understand how phishing works.
How does phishing work?
While it has made rounds on the Internet for some time now, few understand phishing attacks. A phishing attack is a scam carried through emails and website links in a bid to access one’s credentials.
Often, the links lead to a clone site on the login page. After keying in your details, however, you are not ushered into your real page instead stuck on the same page.
In some other cases, an email may emerge in your inbox poised to appear as if it comes from your bank. It is easy to fall victim and lose your hard-earned money owing to their honed skills of deception.
In some instances, the email may contain a malicious code which, upon execution, divulges your data to the cybercriminals. You must learn how to identify each of these kinds of phishing attacks to protect yourself.
Types of phishing
The first step to protect yourself from cyber-attacks is recognizing scamming pages. Similarly, to curb phishing, you must learn various phishing methods used to reel in a more extensive shoal.
#1. Mass market emailing phishing attacks
Phishing attacks aim to force you into an urgent situation to goad you into sharing your details. In other cases, you may be presented with great investments which you can’t resist.
To access these offers, however, you have to log in to your account, thus divulging your data to prying eyes. Unlike methods that target a single unit, this approach gives cyber criminals access to credentials for a broader category of users.
To achieve their goal, users get an email that mimics the original in detail, thus causing no alarm.
Identifying email phishing attempts
Before taking any action as directed, it is essential to countercheck the landing page you wind upon. In the case that you notice variations of the link from the normal, avoid clicking the link.
While checking, hover over the link to test the website they lead to. If you notice a different link from the official page, the wiser step is to avoid selecting the link. Still, be on the lookout for errors and differences of salutations from the usual.
Finally, avoid feeding your info into the website before verifying the offers from their website or customer care desk.
#2. Web Trojans
If you have been around online security forums, the term Trojan horse is not new to you. A Trojan horse is a code/ software designed to execute an action once selected by a user.
For instance, Trojans can be sent in the form of email attachments and links. Upon execution, Trojan horses crawl your device and relay the information they are designed to fetch to the phisher.
Among common types of Trojans include backdoor Trojans and fake AV Trojans.
How to prevent Trojan attacks
To avert Trojan attacks, you must adhere to a regular firewall scan routine for your device. For this, you can establish a daily schedule and set an action for malware detected and view the diagnostics.
Additionally, keep your antivirus updated and ensure that it is from a genuine vendor. Also, be wary of programs from doubtful vendors and pop-ups claiming to offer remedies to your security.
3. Search engine phishing
With the right keywords, you can strike the mother lode of information on any query. Understanding of the relation between traffic and keywords, phishers have morphed their strategies to capture more victims.
Search engine phishing works by presenting a fake website when a user searches a key phrase. Like most types of phishing attacks, search engine phishing is often cloaked in the form of offers and emergencies.
Upon selecting the websites, however, a user is required to fill forms containing personal data. In such a case, gauge the relevance of the data to the service you are seeking. Alternatively, search the company online to find reviews on the company.
4. Spear phishing
Spearfishing ranks among the most common types of phishing. Unlike mass media phishing, this approach is more direct and targeted to a specific group.
Spear phishers carry out a thorough survey of a company/ individual before making their move to capture their prey successfully. Like mass media phishing scams, these are avoidable by counterchecking links for anomalies.
5. Whale phishing attacks
Whale phishing is a more refined phishing approach that targets the big shots in society. Like spearfishing, this involves an in-depth analysis of users before conjuring a compelling reason to click a link.
Similar to prevalent phishing attacks, whale phishing is preventable by inquiring any phony detail from the care desk before taking action. Like in email phishing, users should scrutinize links for malicious items.
SMS phishing also ranks among the popular phishing attacks method. Unlike its counterpart that roams the online arena, SMS phishing targets even offline platforms.
To control this, ensure that you don’t engage in grandiose plans before confirming with the vendor. Even more, if you are asked to boost your security or click a link, hire a vendor to find out the authenticity of the message.
7. In-session phishing attacks: pop-up ads
Perhaps the oldest trick in the book of phishing attacks is pop up ads. Cybercriminals often ask you to update your security protocols to push you into taking a specific action.
Upon selecting these pop-ups, you are then directed to another page. Most often, this is a malicious page focused on gathering your credentials.
To keep pup-up attacks at bay, activate ad blockers on your browser.
8. Website spoofing
While it is not as common as email spoofing, this also ranks among commonly applied phishing attacks. However, instead of an email, the spammers clone a legit site and share the link on social platforms.
To capture this kind of cyber-attacks, check for misspells and differences from the official sites link. Alternatively, visit the homepage of the original link by running a web crawler search.
While at this, check for the offers or updates hinted on in the links and take action. If the proposals do not exist, engage the customer support for help.
9. Man in the middle phishing attacks
While it is less common among phishing attacks, a man in the middle attack is among the hardest to detect. Here, a third party intercepts communication between two parties and gain confidential information.
While at this, the interceptors can change details in the conversation to gain monetary advantages and data. Also, a man in the middle attack can be applied between logging in and authentication.
While it may prove more robust to handle, a man in the middle attack can be prevented by encryption. Alternatively, use third-party tools to prevent crooks from accessing your conversations.
10. Image phishing attacks
Another common approach by cyber villains is by embedding links into image attachments. By doing this, the cyber crooks escape detection by antivirus applications thus does not tip users off.
To avert this, avoid downloading images from unknown sources. Also, have an email antivirus activated to ensure that no data goes hidden in folders.
11. URL phishing attacks
The majorly applied concept in phishing is targeting a renowned legitimate site and coming up with its clone. To avoid setting users off; however, cyber crooks use many tricks.
Among the tricks often employed by the crooks include;
Before clicking links, few pay attention to the actual link. Usually, users go for the aesthetic appeal of a website as opposed to the exact words on the link.
With this in mind, cyber attackers design links that mimic the original links with precision thus raising few red flags. Upon selecting the links, you are redirected to the scammer’s web where you submit your credentials to them.
URL’s are among the most used tools in phishing attacks. Beside cloaking the URL’s, scammers shrink them to appear legit. To escape this trap, enter the URLs by yourself as opposed to copying and pasting from other sites.
12. Key loggers and Screen loggers
There are varieties of malware that track keyboard input and relay information to the hacker via the Internet. These can embed themselves in programs and files within one’s PC and capture data transmitted through the covered routes.
Once the screen is running, or a device is inserted, the programs run automatically and capture data.
13. Cross-site scripting/ Host file poisoning
Like the rest, scripts are shared through emails and run into the program. Once the script is running, it alters the link to frequently visited sites to redirect you to a phishing page.
Once the malware is running, it is hard for a user to recognize it as opposed to alternative phishing methods. It is critical to avoid downloading email attachments from unknown senders to avoid this.
14. Google docs phishing
You click a link to a google docs page, and unaware of the threat, you share your credentials. To avoid this, users should activate a google authentication app to ensure that they don’t follow through a link to a scam.
15. Business email compromise
Among the typical type of phishing attacks for organizations is the CEO attack. Contrary to its name, these attacks are aimed at lower-level employees who can access the targeted departments.
Thanks to the Internet, the scammers can gather adequate data to prepare a compelling story. Often, the scammers pose as CEO’s and ask the employees to transfer files or funds to another account.
To avoid such attacks, companies should educate their employees on cybesecurity. Additionally, consult business files to ensure that the emails are genuine.
With computer frauds getting sophisticated, even the tech savviest users can’t claim immunity. To help curb the risk of attacks, we engage various members to keep you updated with phishing methods.