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What are Types of Phishing Attacks?

Phishing attacks have been prevalent since the internet's early days. Cybercriminals utilized America Online (AOL) to disseminate the first phishing attacks in the mid-1990s, collecting passwords and credit card information. Cybercriminals utilize more advanced strategies than current attacks, which use comparable social engineering concepts. At its heart, phishing is a kind of attack that uses social engineering techniques to persuade a person to do something that is counter to their best interests. Organizations and individuals can better safeguard their users and/or data if they have a better awareness of the types of phishing attempts and how to spot them. Different types of phishing attacks are listed below.

What are the types of Phishing Attcks

Figure 1. What are the types of Phishing Attcks

1. Vishing

In vishing, like all the other phishing attacks, the attackers are targeting your private or business data. A voice call is used to carry out this attack. As a result, the name includes a "v" rather than a "ph."

A call from someone posing as a Microsoft representative is a frequent vishing attack. This individual warns you that your computer has been infected with a virus. You're then prompted to provide your credit card information so that the attacker can update your anti-virus software. You have most certainly installed malware on your computer, and the attacker now has your credit card information.

The infection may contain anything from a banking Trojan to a bot (short for robot). The banking Trojan monitors your internet behavior in order to obtain further information about you, most commonly your bank account information, including your password.

A bot is a software that is programmed to carry out the hacker's instructions. It is operated through command and control (C&C) and is used to mine bitcoins, send spam, or execute a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

2. Email Phishing

Email phishing, which has been present since the 1990s, is the most common type of phishing. Hackers send these emails to whatever address they can get their hands on. The email normally warns you that your account has been hacked and that you must reply quickly by clicking on a link given. The wording in the email typically contains spelling and/or grammatical problems, making these attacks simple to notice.

Some phishing emails are difficult to spot, especially when the wording and grammar are more carefully prepared. If you look for suspicious wording in the email source and the URL you're being directed to, you'll be able to tell if the source is authentic.

Sextortion is a type of phishing fraud in which a hacker sends you an email that looks to have originated from you. The hacker claims to have gained access to your computer and email account. They claim to have your password as well as a video recording of you. According to the hackers, you were browsing pornographic films on your computer when the camera was filming. You must pay them, generally in Bitcoin, or the film will be released to your family and/or coworkers.

3. Pharming

The phrases "phishing" and "farming" have been combined to form the term "pharming." "Phishing without a lure" is another name for this cybercrime.

Phishing is an online fraud technique in which a cybercriminal entices you to click on a phished email link, which directs you to a false website where you input your login credentials (username and password). If you do, the scammer will be able to access the legitimate site and take your personal information.

On the other hand, pharming is a two-step procedure. For starters, cybercriminals infect your computer or server with harmful programs. Two, the code directs you to a fake website, where you might be duped into submitting personal information. Computer pharming doesn't require you to visit a phony website right away. Instead, you'll be instantly sent there. Any personal information you input on the site is immediately accessible to the fraudster.

4. Pop-up Phishing

Phishing messages that "pop up" for consumers while they are perusing the web are known as pop-up phishing. When visitors visit websites that are otherwise genuine, cyber thieves infect them with malicious malware that causes these pop-up messages to appear.

The effectiveness of these communications is due to their substance. They frequently provide an unwary website user with a bogus warning, usually concerning their computer's security. The visitor has then prompted to either download a necessary tool to remedy the problem, such as an antivirus program that proves out to be malware, or contact a phony phone number for "help".

5. HTTPS Phishing

With the standard "padlock next to the URL bar" signal, HTTPS phishing offers a malicious website the appearance of security. Previously, this encryption sign was only available to sites that had been confirmed as secure, but now it is available to any site. So, while outsiders can't see your connection or the information you give, you're already linked to a criminal.

6. Whaling/CEO fraud

Whaling is a type of phishing attack that targets senior executives and masquerades as a legitimate email. Whaling is a type of social engineering-based digital fraud that entices victims to do a secondary action, such as starting a wire transfer of cash.

Whaling does not need a high level of technical understanding but may yield enormous profits. As a result, it is one of the most significant hazards that firms face. The most targeted organizations are financial institutions and payment services, although cloud storage and file hosting sites, internet services, and e-commerce sites are seeing an increase in attacks.

Whaling emails are more complex than standard phishing emails since they frequently target senior ('c-level') executives and typically include individualized information on the targeted organization. Attackers convey a sense of urgency by whaling emails and they are written using business language and tone.

7. Angler Phishing

Angler phishing is a new fraud tactic in which cybercriminals use social media platforms and accounts to impersonate customer service representatives. The goal is to dupe disgruntled consumers into divulging personal information.

Angler phishing is named after an aquatic organism known as an angler fish, which chases other fish. It possesses a glowing fin ray that attracts prey before consuming it. Angler phishing scammers employ the same techniques to catch their target. They impersonate big corporations, particularly financial institutions, on social media.

Angler phishers capture disgruntled people attempting to contact organizations via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. They lure users to harmful, attacker-controlled websites by asking them to accomplish specified activities.

8. Clone Phishing

An existing or previously sent email including attachments or links is used in a clone phishing campaign. These parts are replaced with malicious doppelgangers containing malware, viruses, or spyware in the clone version.

Phishing emails that seem like they came from a colleague or contact may appear to be a resend of earlier communication. Hackers may attempt to justify the resend by noting changes to the original file.

Because the attack is based on a previously received email, the chances of someone falling for it are higher. Consider this: we virtually always react to communications from people whose names we recognize.

Clone phishing attacks are among the most difficult to detect since they are among the most difficult forms of phishing emails to detect.

9. Watering Hole Phishing

A watering hole attack is a security flaw in which the attacker attempts to compromise a specific group of end-users by infecting websites that the group is known to frequent. The objective is to infect a targeted user's computer and get access to the target's workplace network.

Hunting inspired the term "watering hole attack". Rather than following its prey over a long distance, the hunter predicts where it will go, which is usually a spot of water called a "watering hole", and then waits there. The hunter attacks the prey when it comes of its own accord, frequently with its defenses down.

An individual, an organization, or a group of individuals might be the intended victim. The attacker creates profiles of its targets, which are usually workers of big corporations, human rights organizations, religious groups, or government agencies, to see what websites they visit. These are frequently message boards or general interest websites that the desired audience frequents.

While watering hole attacks are relatively rare, they constitute a significant danger since they are difficult to detect and often target highly guarded enterprises through less security-conscious workers, business partners, or linked vendors. They can also be incredibly harmful since they can break many layers of defense.

10. Man-in-the-Middle (MTM) Attacks

A man-in-the-middle, monster-in-the-middle, machine-in-the-middle, monkey-in-the-middle, and meddler-in-the-middle are all terms used in cryptography and computer security. MITM is an acronym for "person-in-the-middle. The (PITM) attack is a cyberattack in which the attacker discreetly relays and perhaps modifies messages between two parties who believe they are speaking directly with each other because the attacker has positioned themself between them. Active eavesdropping is an example of a MITM attack, in which the attacker establishes separate connections with the victims and relays messages between them, giving the impression that they are speaking directly to each other over a private connection when, in fact, the attacker is controlling the entire conversation.

The attacker must be able to intercept and inject any relevant communications sent between the two victims. In many cases, this is trivial; for example, an attacker within the reception range of an unencrypted Wi-Fi access point might act as a man-in-the-middle. A MITM attack can only work if the attacker impersonates each endpoint effectively enough to fulfill their expectations, as it seeks to evade mutual authentication. To prevent MITM attacks, most cryptographic systems incorporate some type of endpoint authentication. TLS, for example, can use a mutually trusted certificate authority to authenticate one or both sides.

11. Image Phishing

Image phishing is when a hacker utilizes photos that include harmful files to steal your account information or infect your machine. In an example of image phishing, AdGholas has been used by hackers to disguise harmful JavaScript code in pictures and HTML files. When a user clicked on an AdGholas-generated picture, the malware was placed onto their computer, which could be exploited to steal personal information.

12. Domain Spoofing

When cyberthieves impersonate a website or email domain in order to deceive users, this is known as domain spoofing. The purpose of domain spoofing is to deceive a person into thinking a malicious email or phishing website is real. Domain spoofing is similar to a con artist who presents a victim with phony credentials in order to earn their trust before exploiting them.

Phishing attacks frequently employ domain spoofing. A phishing attack's purpose is to steal personal information such as account login passwords or credit card numbers or to deceive the victim into paying money to the attacker or install malware. Advertisers can be tricked into paying for adverts that appear on websites other than the ones they believe they're paying for by using domain spoofing.

DNS spoofing, cache poisoning and BGP hijacking are all examples of domain spoofing. Other, more intricate methods of redirecting a person to the incorrect website exist in addition to merely changing the name.

13. Search Engine Phishing

Phishing using online website search engines is known as search engine phishing. The person may come across offers or messages on this page that urge them to visit the website. Although the search procedure appears to be authentic, the website is a ruse designed to obtain the person's personal information.

Phishing tactics using search engines can take a variety of shapes. The following are some examples of search engine phishing:

Free/Discount Offers: In this case, the website may provide things at a significantly reduced price, or it may offer free stuff that the organizations behind the website do not truly own and will not send out. The person must provide their sensitive information in order to acquire the nonexistent products.

Fake Job Offers: Fake employment offers may be made, requiring the individual to input their social security number. These opportunities may arise as a result of internet job searches.

Emergency Situations: Some websites may use the threat of an emergency or an urgent issue to get customers to provide information. A website that claims a person's PC has a virus is one example of this.

The crucial thing to remember is that these phony pages may be found on real search engine channels like Bing and Google. As a result, anytime you use a computer to hunt for information, it is critical to check the credibility of a website. In the long term, search engine phishing schemes can lead to identity theft.

14. Website Spoofing

Website spoofing refers to fraudulent websites that imitate legitimate websites by replicating their design and, in some circumstances, using a URL that is close to the actual one.

In order to make the spoofed site seem as real as possible, a spoofed website may generally mimic part or all of a legitimate website's fonts, colors, and layout, as well as photos and logos used on the site.

While some website spoofing is used to spread fake news or to mock legitimate websites or stories, in more nefarious cases, cybercriminals use website spoofing and other techniques such as email spoofing to trick consumers into sharing sensitive information such as credit card numbers or social security numbers.

Visitors are usually enticed in by an email scam or a search result, and whatever form of information they complete on the faked website is tracked and saved on the fraudsters' servers.

15. Evil Twin Phishing

An evil twin attack is a cyberattack in which a hacker creates a phony Wi-Fi network that seems to be a real access point in order to acquire sensitive information from victims. Ordinary individuals are frequently the targets of such attacks.

A man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack can be used to carry out the attack. The phony Wi-Fi access point is used to listen in on users and steal their login credentials or other sensitive data. The victim will have no idea that the hacker is intercepting things like bank transactions because the hacker controls the equipment.

A phishing scheme can also make use of an evil twin access point. Victims will connect with the evil twin and be led to a phishing site in this sort of attack. It will ask them to submit sensitive information, such as their login credentials. These will, of course, be sent directly to the hacker. Once the hacker has them, the hacker may simply disconnect the victim and display a message stating that the server is temporarily unavailable.

How to Prevent Phishing Attacks?

Here are some simple techniques to spot phishing scams and avoid them.

  1. Recognize the signs of a phishing scam: New phishing attack strategies are being developed all the time, but they always have a few traits that may be identified if you know what to look for. Many websites exist that will keep you up to date on the most recent phishing attacks and their essential indicators. The sooner you learn about the latest attack tactics and communicate them with your users through frequent security awareness training, the better your chances of avoiding an attack are.
  1. Do not follow that link: It's not a good idea to click on a link in an email or instant message, even if you know who sent it. The bare minimum you should be doing is hovering over the link to ensure the destination is correct. Some phishing attempts are highly smart, and the destination URL may seem just like the actual site, set up to record keystrokes or gather login/credit card information. You should use your search engine to reach the site rather than click on the link if you can.
  1. Download anti-phishing add-ons for free: Most modern browsers allow you to install security extensions that detect indicators of a fraudulent website or notify you of known phishing sites. They're generally absolutely free, so there's no reason not to have it on every device in your company.
  1. Don't send your personal information to a website that isn't safe: If the URL does not begin with "HTTPS" or has a closed padlock icon next to it, do not enter sensitive information or download anything. Although it's possible that sites lacking security certifications aren't meant for phishing schemes, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
  1. Change your passwords on a frequent basis: If you have online accounts, you should make it a practice to change your passwords on a regular basis to prevent an attacker from acquiring unrestricted access. Because your accounts may have been hacked without your knowledge, adding an extra layer of security through password rotation can help prevent further attacks and keep potential attackers out.
  1. Don't dismiss the notifications: It's easy to become frustrated when you receive a lot of update notifications, and it's tempting to disregard them. This should not be done. Patches and updates are issued for a cause, the most frequent of which is to stay up with contemporary cyberattack tactics by plugging security gaps. If you don't upgrade your browser, you may be vulnerable to phishing attempts based on known flaws that might have been avoided simply.
  1. Set up firewalls: Firewalls, which act as a barrier between your computer and an attacker, are an effective way to protect yourself from outside threats. When used simultaneously, host and network firewalls may improve your security and lower the possibility of a hacker penetrating your network.
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    Zenarmor is an all-software instant firewall that can be deployed virtually anywhere. Sites known to host harmful software used in phishing efforts are blocked by Zenarmor. Thanks to its appliance-free, all-in-one, all-software, lightweight, and simple architecture, it can be instantly deployed onto any platform which has network access. Virtual or bare-metal. On-premise or Cloud. Any Cloud. For open-source firewalls, this technology delivers state-of-the-art, next-generation firewall features not currently available in products such as OPNsense. If you are running an L4 firewall (all open source firewalls fall into this category) and need features such as Application Control, Network Analytics, and TLS Inspection, Zenarmor provides these features and more.

  1. Don't be swayed by pop-up ads: Pop-ups aren't simply annoying; they're frequently connected to malware as part of phishing scams. Most browsers now allow you to download and install free ad-blocker software that will automatically block the bulk of potentially harmful pop-ups. If you do manage to get over the ad-blocker, don't be tempted to click! Pop-ups will occasionally try to trick you with the location of the "Close" button, so always check for an "x" in one of the corners.
  1. If you don't have to, don't reveal sensitive information: As a general rule, you should not freely give out your credit card information unless you are completely confident with the site you are visiting. If you must supply personal information, ensure that the website is legitimate, that the firm is legitimate, and that the site is secure.
  1. Invest in a data security platform that can detect symptoms of an attack: If you are the unfortunate victim of a successful phishing attack, it is critical that you be able to notice and respond quickly. By automatically warning on unusual user activity and undesirable file modifications, a data security platform relieves some of the load on the IT/Security team. If an attacker has access to your sensitive data, data security platforms can assist you in identifying the account that has been compromised so that you may take steps to avoid future harm.