How to Protect Yourself From Phishing Attack - A Must-Read Guide

Do you receive emails that urge you to take immediate action or contain highly compelling offers? It could be a phishing attacks. The intention behind such an email will be to steal your personal information. This blog will assist you in understanding phishing attacks and how to identify phishing emails.

What is Phishing Attack in Cyber Security?

Phishing is one of the most common attack strategies in cybersecurity. The term ‘phishing’ might have originated from the word ‘fishing’ due to the similarities between both acts. In the case of fishing, a fisherman uses bait to trick and catch fish. In the same way, in the case of phishing, an attacker will use various tactics as bait to trick their victims and steal their data. Often, these tactics are quite luring, like huge rewards or creating a sense of emergency, like account suspension.

What Are the Most Common Types of Phishing Attacks?

Attackers use different techniques to conduct phishing attacks on their victims. The most common types of phishing are discussed below.

common types of phishing attacks

Email phishing:

Email phishing is one of the most common phishing tactics used by criminals. Deceptive emails, as if from legitimate sources, are sent to the victims to trick them and make them share sensitive information.

Manipulation of links:

 In this type of phishing attack, the attacker will manipulate website links and embed them in their emails to the victims. The victims, upon clicking on those links, are redirected to malicious sites where their personal information is collected.

Content injection attack:

Content injection is another common phishing method where the attacker injects infected codes into the victim’s databases or web pages. It will gradually lead to the spread of the malware, resulting in data compromise or a vulnerability in the web pages to be exploited.

Smishing attacks:

Smishing is a word used to describe phishing attacks conducted via SMS or text messages. Often, these texts or SMS phishing emails contain links to download malware or share important personal information. 

Spear phishing:

Spear phishing refers to the act of conducting targeted phishing attacks. The attacker might have some basic information about the victim. Using that, they draft personalized emails and send them to particular victims, winning their trust and easily tricking them.

CEO impersonation or whaling:

Cybercriminals impersonate CEOs or high-ranking executives by sending emails to employees of the organization. These emails request that employees send sensitive personal data or transfer funds for specific purposes.

Malware attacks:

Malware is malicious software designed by cybercriminals to damage computers or networks. They are created with a combination of viruses, trojans, ransomware, or spyware. Victims are tricked into downloading them onto their computers through embedded links in the emails.  

Vishing attack:

Vishing, or voice phishing, is the act of phishing through voice messages or phone calls. Victims are tricked into believing that they come from trusted parties and are made to reveal or share important information or send money.

How to Identify Phishing Attacks – Common Signs

To stay protected from phishing attacks, one must know how they appear. Here are the common signs of phishing simulations:.

How to identify phishing attacks

Alluring offer, threat, or urgency:

Phishing emails often contain a grant offer or a threat or urgency aimed at manipulating your ability to make a sound judgment faster. Ignorant victims often fall prey to such tactics.

Unexpected requests:

If you receive an unexpected email asking you to share any personal information such as date of birth, phone number, identity card number, or banking details, consider it a red flag for its potential to be a phishing attempt.

Inconsistent web addresses:

Attackers use manipulated website links in the phishing emails, asking the victims to click to proceed. Most often, these links lack security certification or contain unusual domain extensions or top-level domains. 

Peculiar style of messaging:

Most phishing emails have a common pattern or style. Unless in the case of spear phishing, the messages wouldn’t have any personalization as they are used as a common message format to trick hundreds of recipients.

Poor grammar:

 About 60 to 70 percent of the phishing emails contain poor grammar, typos, or unprofessional or awkward use of vocabulary, even though they claim to be from a highly reputed entity.

Request for sensitive data:

 One of the easiest ways to identify a phishing email is to check if it asks for any sensitive information. Any request to share your email password, credit card information, or anything else similar should be considered a red flag.

How to Protect Yourself from a Phishing Attack?

Phishing scams cause serious damage to both individuals and businesses. Here are some of the best phishing protection strategies to stop yourself from falling victim to such instances.

Conduct employee awareness programs :

Attackers often target employees of organizations in their phishing campaigns. By providing phishing awareness emails to employees, a significant number of such phishing examples can be effectively thwarted.

Use an email filtering service :

With the help of an advanced email phishing protection service, it is possible to avert the majority of the common phishing messages coming to the inbox. These services are trained to identify and stop phishing emails.

Report smishing and phishing:

Phishing reports allow service providers to train their algorithms to identify and stop similar messages. This effectively contributes to the collective effort of phishing prevention globally.

Run email phishing attacks tests:

Conducting phishing attacks tests helps organizations create greater phishing awareness among their employees. Creating a strong cyber security culture is important for long-term mitigation and incident management.

Restrict access to critical data or systems:

 Through phishing attack websites, criminals target entry to critical company data or systems. Restricting or regulating access to crucial company data or systems to select users, and that too with 2FA, will help bypass such web phishing attempts.

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Jim Jacob

Jim Jacob is the founder of Cyberguard. He is an IT professional who has 21 years of professional experience in the tech field. Cybergurad is the product of his vision to share the knowledge gained from his career through the power of words. He is an expert at explaining complex tech concepts in simple language and has written numerous articles on IT and Cybersecurity.

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    There is no doubt that phishing emails are quite tricky and can confuse one for some time before taking action. But with proper cyber security awareness and phishing protection in place, it is possible to deal with 100% of them. The information shared in this blog should help you approach phishing attacks with more clarity and accuracy. 

    If you have any questions regarding the topics covered or need help with anti-phishing solutions, feel free to connect with us.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Anti-phishing refers to the collective efforts of phishing mitigations that incorporate strategies to identify, prevent, and mitigate phishing attacks. It would help one identify deceptive attempts by cyber attackers through phishing links or phishing websites.

    Voice phishing, or vishing, is a commonly used phishing tactic these days. The attacker, impersonating the personality traits of credible individuals, would request your personal information or an urgent response to their warning through a voice message.

    There are multiple cyber-essential security practices to deal with business email compromises. This includes the use of email filtering systems, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and employee training on recognizing phishing entrapment attempts. Additionally, organizations must make use of strong email security protocols and policies.

    QR code phishing is the act of manipulating QR codes to trick and redirect people to malicious websites or apps. These websites could be designed to leak their personal information or install malware on their devices.

    To stay protected from evolving phishing attacks, individuals and organizations should keep themselves up-to-date. Educating employees on phishing attacks and their evolving nature and instructing them to verify the authenticity of the sender before taking any action are highly recommended practices. Similarly, advanced measures like multi-factor authentication for online services and keeping all software services and operating systems up to date can not only improve the security posture but also enhance user productivity.