What is a Phishing Attack?
The following article provides an outline for What is a Phishing Attack? Phishing is a technique where an Attacker, also called Phisher, tries to gain access or sensitive information from the user or victim. This attack comes under the Social Engineering attack, where personal confidential data such as login credentials, credit card details, etc., are tried to gain from the victim with human interaction by an attacker. In this way, the attacker dupes a victim into opening a malicious link via an email, instant message on apps like WhatsApp, or a text message. Clicking on the link may lead to installing malicious software, exposing sensitive information, and freezing the system, called a Ransomware attack.
The goal of this attack is mostly due to the bad intentions of the attacker. This may include shutting down the system, gaining the funds, money, harming the third-party victim in any possible way. Phishing is of the simplest kind of cyber attack but still effective and dangerous as the phishers try to exploit the users directly, which does not involve exploiting the technical vulnerability. Nowadays, everyone has access to the Internet, and Digital Evolution is taking place; one should have proper knowledge of this kind of Attack to avoid any kind of loss in the future.
Types of Phishing Attack
While there are varieties of Phishing Attacks, the aim is the same, “to gain something.”
Some major types include:
1. Spear Phishing
Spear Phishing attack is specifically targeted on Individual or organization. Therefore, it targets the specific group where everyone is having certain in common. In spear phishing, Attackers often collect personal information about their target and use it. This increases the probability of success as the victim tricks into believing the information.
Spear Phishing attack, which is targeted mainly on Higher level targets such as Senior Executives, CEO’s, etc., is known as Whaling.
3. Clone Phishing
In this attack, the Attacker clones the original email delivered previously and modified it to look legitimate but contains malicious links or malware. Then sends it to target while still maintaining the sender address by address spoofing. As a result, the mail looks like it was re-sent of original with some or no changes.
4. Phone Phishing
This attack is carried out by sending a text message and asking to provide confidential information. Or by a voice calling to the victim and faking as some genuine official person, the attacker asks the user to provide sensitive details or asks to perform some activity. The former is called SMS phishing, and the latter one is called Voice Phishing.
Purpose of Phishing Attack
A Phishing attack aims to make do victim the following things:
- Provide Sensitive Information: This aims to gain sensitive information such as login credentials, ATM PINs, credit card details, social security numbers from victims and use that information for financial gain.
- Download Malware: This includes affecting the victim’s system by providing some link to click and trying to gain access once the victim downloads the malicious code. By doing this, the Attacker will be able to control the victim’s computer or device and can do anything harmful.
How can Phishing Attack Happen?
- Phishing Attack can happen in many ways, as we have seen in various varieties above. Email spoofing can make the victim believe that it is legitimate mail and click on a malicious link.
- The same can happen over text messages or in Instant messaging apps. In web spoofing, a very similar site to an original site like Facebook is made, and the link is sent to the victim, who then may trick the user into providing a user id and password.
- Phishing can happen over a call where Attacker tricks the victim into providing confidential details by acting as an official authority. PDF documents are also used for phishing as they support Scripting and fillable forms.
Motive behind a Phishing Attack
- Ultimately, Phishing is a Scam. The motive of the attacker can be anything, but the most reasonable reason is earning money. Mostly Phishing is used to get sensitive information.
- This information may be used by the attacker or may be sold for cash to a third party. Other motives are possible, but money is the primary concern in most cases.
What to do after a Phishing Attack?
While you must be aware of Phishing, still in case you have been attacked, you can consider doing the following things:
- If you are an individual using some private account site or a banking site, then you can change the credentials as soon as possible.
- In the case of bank fraud, you can call bank authorities and tell them to suspend your account.
- If you are phished in an organisation, you should immediately call the Security team and inform them.
These are some common situations, but there can be multiple different situations. Don’t panic in such cases; take a deep breath and act accordingly. Change the passwords, scan the computer for viruses, also you can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which will guide you through the necessary steps.
How to Prevent Phishing?
- As an individual or an organization, everyone must have proper awareness and knowledge of Phishing. Training the end-user is the best protection mechanism from Phishing.
- One should be kept updated informing about different Phishing attacks; one should regularly check online accounts, keep the browser up to date, use firewalls, use antivirus software, never give out personal information & the most important one is “thinking before you act” and “stay alert every time”.
Till we have known that Phishing Attacks are simple yet the most dangerous and powerful, there are multiple varieties in which Phishing Attacks can happen. In the world of the Internet, Phishing Attacks can cause major losses if not taken care of properly, so everyone must be aware of precautions and actions to be taken.
This has been a guide to What is a Phishing Attack? Here we discussed the types, purpose, and prevention to be taken from phishing attack. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –