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What are Phishing Attacks?

what are phishing attacks

Phishing campaigns and attack security incidents are a reality in the digital threats landscape.

Verizon Enterprise’s 2022 Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) reveals phishing as one of the everyday problems impacting organizations and individuals. Almost half (38%) of the violations detected phishing attacks and unsolicited emails. 

In this article, we’ll cover the types of phishing attacks, how they impact both individuals and organizations, and how you can best prevent phishing attacks. 

Successful Phishing Attacks

An email phishing campaign begins when attackers send out malicious emails and attachments pretending to be sent from a legitimate business. Targeting as many people as possible is the goal of the hacker. The more aspects of their suspicious messages resemble the actual company, the better.

Phish messages generally involve delivering SMS or text via email or another electronic communication method impersonating legitimate companies. Phishers may utilize public data such as social networks to gather information about their victim’s life experiences and work experiences. Hackers collect information about potential victims, such as their names, titles, and addresses. This is a way that enables a phishing operation to make a legitimate fake. Most inbound emails received from victims are likely from an unknown organization. 

A threat is created by phishing messages containing suspicious attachments redirecting the victim to fake login from malicious websites.

Phishers constantly evolve their tactics to avoid detection by humans and security systems, so companies must continuously educate employees to spot them. One employee falling for a phish could lead to a significant data breach. That’s one reason it’s among the top threats to mitigate and the hardest because it requires human defenses.

Phishing Scams Attacks: Statistics and Examples

Vishing (Voice Phishing) Cyber Attack

Until now, there was discussion about a phishing attack that relies primarily upon email. Nonetheless, fraudsters can sometimes use other media for attack purposes. 

This kind of phisher attack does not use email delivery but instead telephone calls. A “phishing attack” may occur when an attacker attempts to steal information through a voice-over-internet protocol server using different entities to replicate various services. 

Watering Hole Phishing Attempt

Another sophisticated attack, water hole phishing, involves malicious hackers looking into sites they visit regularly. These are usually sites that offer industry reports or websites from vendors. Upon seeing the website, users may download unauthorized software.

Spear Phishing Attacks

A spear phishing attack is a phishing scam in which fraudsters customize spear phishing emails with targets’ names, positions, businesses, and work telephone numbers. These attacks aim to convince a single receptive target to provide sensitive information by using information that’s of interest to the target. Spear phishing attacks try to convince someone to click ‘dangerous URLs or attachments’ and provide ‘personal data.’ Preventing spear phishing attacks and data breaches required both an email security solution with spam filters and end-user security awareness training on the dangers of phishing risks.

Clone Phishing

Another deceptive phishing attack targeting email, cloning phishing, uses a service previously used to cause harm to a client. Most businesses require people to use a hyperlink to complete their tasks. Employees may also research and send targeted emails based on the services used. For example, some organizations use DocuSync for electronic contracting. If an individual is in a privileged position, he is likely to send unauthorized messages. Often, attackers attempting to use clone phishing will be a targeted attack within the organization’s supply chain or from someone impersonating an organization that does business with the company.

Email Phishing

Email phishing is an increasingly popular attack form known as “Deception Phishing” – or phishing. Malicious actors send emails to people emulating a recognized brand using social engineering techniques to generate a higher sense of immediacy and convince the person to open a page. Malicious sites often use these links to steal data or install malicious code on a computer. Phishing emails are usually loaded by a malware program and establish the malware when the user opens them.

Phishing Attacks Impact on Organizations

Phishing combined with social engineering attacks continues to cost organizations globally millions of dollars per year. Even with cybersecurity insurance to reduce the risk of the various types of phishing attacks, organizations continue to spend financial capital to cover the costs of the breach.

Organizations often suffer from data loss of sensitive information and login credentials, even with employee awareness training. Many fraudulent emails pass through several layers of security controls by fooling secure email gateway solutions.

Phishing attacks, including malicious links, also lead to increased business email compromise and fraudulent phishing attacks. The recipient is tricked into clicking a malicious link, which can lead to malware being installed and valuable information being stolen. An attack includes unauthorized purchases, the theft of funds, or identity theft.

Preventing Phishing Attacks

Stopping the impact of phishing attacks requires a comprehensive organizational strategy. End-user training combined with security policies and integrated layers of adaptive control helps reduce the result of the attacker’s attempt to steal credentials, gain access to information, and install malware on unsuspecting devices.

Secure email gateways with integrated multi-function capability, including messaging encryption, data loss prevention, and anti-virus software, are critical enablement for organizations. These gateways specialize in blocking targeted attacks, suspicious emails, and malicious URL attacks.

Knowledge for Today and in the Future

Phishing attacks are just one facet of the digital threats landscape today. Students interested in joining the Cybersecurity industry should consider the following courses offered at CIAT.Edu to expand their Cybersecurity knowledge and prepare themselves for entering the field:

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