Types of Phishing Attacks, Identification Tips and Preventive Solutions

Phishing Attacks: Phishing statistics indicate that 75% of the organizations have experienced varied phishing attacks, out of which 96% of the phishing attacks arrive via email. These phishing attacks are not newbies since they originated way back in 1995. Many business owners and individuals are aware of it, but they cannot prevent tech-savvy attackers from planting these attacks. 

What is Phishing?

In this cyber-threat called phishing, the imposter disguises themselves as a reliable identity and tries to gain sensitive data the moment you lower your defenses. 

They can make users click malicious links, install compromised codes or files, or lure them into giving personal information by impersonating a reliable identity. The main target of phishing attacks are businesses that are storing sensitive information.

When this attack is amalgamated with other threats like SOS injections and malware, etc., it can prove to be a costly affair for your business. 

The motto of phishing ends by gaining sensitive information or demanding a ransom for leaked data.

Like there are various fishes in the sea, there are multiple types of phishing attacks, each showing different symptoms. Hence, it’s wise to understand and identify them to protect information and prevent damages.

Let me share with you some tips on the types of phishing and their identification techniques.

Types of Phishing Attacks

1. Email Phishing

Email phishing is one of the commonly used phishing scams. The phisher uses mirror sites and an almost similar domain name compared to the original one for grabbing sensitive information. In addition, these fake websites have compromised links meant for stealing information or installing compromised codes on the user’s computer.

Identification Tips:

  • Check the domain name precisely for spelling errors and upper/lower case alphabets. E.g., PayPal (true), Paypal (fake)
  • Re-check the links before clicking them since they may be compromised.
  • Avoid clicking short links since they can surpass secured gateways.
  • Check out fake logos, which can contain malicious codes.
  • Look out for suspicious images having less text since they may concede malware.

2. HTTPS Phishing

Hackers are becoming more tech-savvy, and the use of HTTPS phishing proves the same. In HTTPS (hyper-text transfer protocol secure) phishing, hackers use HTTPS to add malicious links in email phishing. This is less risky since it contains an encrypted connection or link, but you need to be cautious about the same.

Tips:

  • Ensure that you click the original link, which shows the visibility of the URL
  • Check for a misspelled domain name or if the message sent is from a public domain
  • Look out for suspicious attachments or dubious links

3. Spear Phishing

Statistics indicate that out of 75% of the phishing attacks experienced, 35% of them were spear phishing attacks.

Spear Phishing

Spear-phishing attacks are usually made by planting customized attacks. The attacker has complete information (name, email id, designation, mobile number) about the target and sends a fake email to get information regarding credentials and other data. The recipient here is tricked into believing that the said sender sends the mail. 

Tips:

  • Avoid entertaining any unusual requests asking for personal information
  • Ensure that the links on shared devices are legitimate before clicking
  • Stay cautious while punching your login credentials, e.g., accessing documents.

4. Whaling/CEO Fraud

Whales are bigger than fishes. They are difficult to prey on, but they can be worth a fortune if you have proper strategies. That’s exactly the motto of whaling. Sometimes cyber-criminals have an urge to target the top-most authorities (COO or CEO) rather than the lower chain. Hence the name whaling became prominent. 

They attempt to loot a fortune by sending fake mail to the concerned person posing as the company’s CEO.  

Example: The Scoular Company (Omaha) was the victim of a whaling attack, wherein its executive shelled out $17.2 million via bank transfers in multiple installments. It was later concluded that a fake mail posing to be from the CEO’s office was sent, and this action was taken.

Re-check the email id and confirm the request for identifying such whaling attacks.

5. Smishing & Vishing:

In smishing (SMS phishing), the intruder tries to entice the targets by sending text messages, posing to be from a reliable company. Then, they try to instigate the individual to submit sensitive information like bank details, passwords, etc. 

In vishing (Voice phishing), the intruder uses the voice call communication method to entice the victims for the same purpose as stated above. 

The emotional factor (discounts, prizes, curiosity, urgency, etc.) leads to success in both these cases.

Identification Tips:

Smishing

  • The caller number might be unknown or from a suspicious location.
  • The reason to submit information might be shady.

Vishing

  • The area code might be unusual.
  • Suspicious change of action (delivery or discount) plan

6. Pharming

This phishing attack is dangerous since it cannot be detected easily. In pharming, the attackers use the DNS poisoning method to redirect the network traffic to a fake IP address. DNS poisoning is usually done by compromising DNS server vulnerabilities. 

Identification Tips:

  • Website URL commences with HTTP.

Inconsistency in spell and grammar, errors in content, mismatched designs and colors, or suspicious videos.

7. Pop-up Phishing

Pop-ups are meant for focusing on a single message, amongst many messages. However, intelligent hackers put malicious codes inside these pop-ups to enter the website and compromise it to gain their motives.

Nowadays, hackers also use browser notifications to insert such compromised codes. When a user visits the website, the browser will display the notification message. Once the user clicks the same, the code instantly installs on the user’s computer.

8. Cloning

Create an identical fake message, just like the genuine one to trap victims, is the main motto of the attacker in cloning. This type of phishing attack involves swapping the main message or a prior email having links and attachments. 

These links are compromised, so when the user clicks them, the compromised code enters the network and systems. Therefore, unexpected requests from the sender should be attended with caution in cloning.

Few More Types

1. Evil Twin

The intruder uses a fake, unsecured hotspot or Wi-Fi that looks genuine to grab sensitive data via user transactions.

2. Watering Hole Phishing

The intruder targets specific employees, lures them to the website (which they visit frequently), installs it with malicious code, and fulfills their desire to get information.

3. Angler Phishing: 

The intruder mainly gets active on weekends or holidays to hijack customer conversations during that duration. They intervene and redirect customers to the malicious webpage.

4. Social-Media Phishing: 

The intruder attacks via social networking platforms to gain customers’ sensitive details or lure them into clicking compromised links.

How to Prevent Phishing?

Detection of phishing types is pivotal for the prevention of these attacks. Multiple web security solutions should be installed, and proper steps should be taken to prevent these intruders from invading your systems and networks. 

Let’s check a few of them.

1. Raising Employee Awareness

Employees are the 1st line of defense, and hence they need to be trained properly to identify unusual requests, lame errors, threats, or false urgencies. 

Their prompt action and reporting can save your digital business from disaster. In addition, checking of trust/security badges installed on the website may help them identify the genuine from the fake.

2. Use Email Signing Certificates

Use Comodo Personal Authentication Certificates from SSL2BUY for email encryption and identity verification to prevent phishing attacks. This certificate includes 2FA (two-factor authentication) and distinct cryptographic keys, which allow you to secure your emails and digital files with digital signatures.

3. Use Email Filters

The use of email spam filtering solutions helps in categorizing emails by checking the internal and external network traffic. TIn addition, these spam filters detect malicious links, codes, malware, or other bad attachments in emails and prevent them from entering your network.

Examples: Proofpoint Essentials, Mimecast, Barracuda Essentials, etc., are a few popular ones.

4. Install Website Alerts

The best way to identify attacks on website codes is by installing website alerts in browsers to minimize or prevent damages. 

5. Install SSL Security

SSL (Secure Socket Layer) security will help maintain encrypted communication between browsers and servers and prevent various cyber-attacks.

Example: Installation of Positive SSL Wildcard will shelter all your first-level subdomains and the chosen primary domain with a single certificate. 

Available at a nominal rate of $54.4/year, this certificate provides 2048-bit CSR encryption, which plays a pivotal role in preventing phishing attacks.

6. Limit Internet Access

Limit network access to employees by restricting website access and other web applications by allotting read-only rights. This helps lessen risks by preventing malicious entries.

7. Use MFA

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) uses multiple authentication methods before granting access to networks, and hence the user needs to punch in all the details (passwords, OTP code in SMS, fingerprints, etc.) to gain access.

If one security is leaked, there are multiple other shields to protect your website.

8. Monitoring of Spoofed Websites

Health care industries and financial institutions hire experts to monitor the spoofed versions of their websites and spend resources on removing the same. This helps prevent employees and customers from clicking malicious links in these spoofed sites or submitting sensitive data to intruders.

9. Regularly update the software and network

Keep your software and network updated to fix security vulnerabilities and prevent phishing attacks since these attacks mainly implants in such security loopholes.

Conclusion

Attackers always emerge with new phishing threats. Hence your employees should update all the time to prevent these threats for maintaining data privacy. 

Ensure that all security endpoints are monitored and protected to prevent security lapses. Install trustworthy anti-virus software and conduct tests on phishing attacks to verify the strength of your digital securities.

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Dev Jain

Dev Jain is a founder of Techbenzy. He just love Technology. Writing on Technology, Movie Download, Apps, tech tips etc. are some of his hobbies.

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