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What is Phishing? Types, Scams, Attacks – And How to Prevent It.

What is Phishing? Types, Scams, Attacks – And How to Prevent It.

Scams are an integral part of the online world. There are hundreds of different attack strategies used by cybercriminals. One of the classic scamming techniques is phishing. While an older strategy, it’s still successfully used by cybercriminals with new variations.

The major source of phishing is spam emails. These are well-crafted manipulative emails that are designed in a way to ditch the spam filter of your email account and manage to show in your inbox.

The main purpose of phishing is to get access to confidential and crucial personal and organizational data. Your bank details and company access password is the most wanted information by cybercriminals.

Different Variants of Phishing

There are different kinds of phishing techniques used by scammers of the present era.

1. Whale Phishing

Whale phishing, as the name suggests, is the phishing strategy for attacking the big fishes of the organization. The business owners, directors, and key personnel are the prime target of this phishing tool. The attackers do some intensive research before sending the emails. These emails are written in a personalized tone mentioning the essential details of the organization. The sender uses the email address similar to that of the taxation department or any other government body and asks for some crucial information or money transfer. The overall impression of the email is very professional, but since it targets the higher-order smart personnel, its success rate is quite low.

2. Deceptive Phishing

It is one of the traditional phishing strategies and has been used for decades. The spammer uses the email addresses similar to that of the authentic websites and big businesses. There is just a slight variation in the address, which often goes unnoticed by the regular internet users. The email asks for clicking on an attached link which leads to a fake webpage or installs malware on your device. The intention is to hack your data and get access to your confidential or secretive personal information

3. Pharming

Pharming is another phishing strategy where fraudulent emails are sent from authentic sources like banks and social media sites. These emails ask you to perform an urgent action in your account. This could be anything from changing the password to taking some security measures and manipulatively redirects you to a fake webpage. Pharming not only involves fraudulent emails but it also maneuvers DNS cache. It uses the same web address as the source and appears to be exactly like the original site. It asks for your login details and hacks your accounts.

4. Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is a targeted phishing strategy which attacks a unique population. The emails are sent directly addressing the receiver and impersonate some authentic source like an educational institution or bank. It even uses original logos and signatures so that the receiver doesn't have any doubt about its authenticity. The motto behind these emails is similar to all other phishing strategies that are to steal login details by manipulating students and clients.

5. Google Docs Phishing

Almost every internet user is dependent on Google apps from the Play Store to Gmail. One Gmail account allows you to use a bunch of Google services. Most people use Google docs to store documents and photos as it seems very convenient and safe. This is the reason hacking Google passwords is one of the prime goals of the scammers. They devise emails and send it to Gmail users which directs them to their Google login page. Once you enter the password, your account and all files stored on it become accessible to the scammer.

How to Prevent Phishing

Phishing is a widely used scamming strategy but is not a very powerful tool. It is easier to prevent phishing.

1. Double Check the Content

Most fraudulent emails have a lot of loopholes in their content. Though most phishing emails address you directly and use personal information to trick you, they don’t have complete information. If you carefully examine the subject matter of these emails, you’ easily get an idea about its authenticity.

The major trick played by the scammers is that they create a sense of urgency with their phishing emails. You fall into the trap only if you take action hastily. So, it is essential to stay calm and make your moves wisely.

2. Secure Your Identity

A VPN or Virtual Private Network provides an encrypted tunnel for all your online activities. It disguises your original identity and location and allows you to connect with the world through secured remote servers. This eliminates all chances of spying and snooping, and cybercriminals cannot access your information and identity.

A strong VPN also helps protect your connection from any attacking malware and makes your online existence safe and secure. VPN is a secure barrier in the way of phishing emails reaching your device.

3. Double Check All Links

To prevent phishing, it is recommended to double-check the email addresses and website links before clicking on any link. Fraudulent addresses are identical to the original ones, but they are not the same. Also, look for HTTP secured sites while entering your passwords and other confidential details.

Staying Protected

The dramatic growth of connected devices, Big Data, and e-Commerce means there are even more opportunities for attackers to strike.  Companies such as GlobalSign are well positioned to help you stay safe with a broad range of solutions – including trusted Digital Signatures, which provides scalable safe document signing from the desktop to the cloud.

Now’s not the time to wait. Why not start by exploring the Resources below? A little vigilance can save you from a lot of trouble.

About the Author

Susan Alexandra is a cybersecurity and privacy enthusiast. She is a small business owner, traveler and investor of cryptocurrencies.


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