The Fundamentals of Phishing
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A phishing scam, whether you know it by name or not, is nothing new. If you’ve ever received an email about a UK lottery or a Nigerian prince, then someone has already tried to scam you. In the email, you’re asked to submit personal information or to click a link. And when you do, your personal information online will be compromised. This cyberattack is a type of phishing scam. And although it’s the most common, even long-time web users can become a victim.
When it comes to phishing, you can’t afford to take the threats lightly. You need to take them seriously because even a single, minor blip in your security can cost you a lot. Even stores that sell laptop units stress the importance of online vigilance. That way, your personal information or business data won’t be compromised.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is a form of a cyberattack. It tries to gather personal information through misleading emails and deceptive websites. Phishing hackers try to trick the email recipient into believing that the email is of utmost importance. They make it sound like providing information is necessary, even mandatory. Often in a phishing email, there is a link that needs to be clicked or an attachment that needs to be downloaded.
The thing that differentiates phishing from other scams is the way the message is structured. Hackers masquerade as a reliable entity—a plausible real person or company—that you can trust. This type of cyberattack has been around since the late ’90s. It’s one of the most prevalent and damaging online threats. This is particularly true now that phishing techniques have become extremely sophisticated.
Spear phishing. This is a cyberattack that targets specific people, businesses, and organizations. The main goal is to collect private information. Out of all the types of cyberattacks, spear phishing is one of the most successful. It accounts for over 90% of phishing scams. One of the reasons that spear phishing works is because each hacker has their own target market. And most of the time, the level of the scam is sophisticated enough to be convincing.
Clone phishing. Compared to spear phishing, this one is more underhanded. Hackers that use clone phishing replace legitimate email content with malicious messages or suspicious attachments. To do so, they hack previously delivered emails. Victims fall into this trap because hackers would often claim that they are sending an updated version of the old email.
Whaling. As the name suggests, this type of phishing is more directed at the “bigger fish.” As such, whaling is a more elaborate type of cyberattack. A good example of whaling is a fraudulent customer complaint. The hacker demands the attention of a department head like a customer service manager.
What Are the Ways to Prevent Phishing?
- Take time to read a message closely to avoid confusion. This is particularly relevant when you’re asked to send out information or click a link.
- Make sure to check the spelling of the URL before clicking a link or downloading an attachment. Also, avoid URL redirects.
- If you receive a suspicious message from someone you personally know, contact them first using a different platform before sending a reply.
- As much as possible, avoid posting personal information online.