If you are aware of every nook and corner of the virtual world, or if it’s the center of your work, then I guess you have come across the term ‘phishing’, at some point in time.

So, how familiar are you with this form of cyber-attack?

We have provided a detailed and valuable insight into this topic that will help get things going for you! So, ready?

Let’s explore the world of phishing.

What exactly is a phishing attack?

To sum it up nicely, this method involves making attempts towards gathering personal information through the use of deceptive e-mails and websites.

Woah! Scary, right?

Well, its’ after-effects are pretty devastating, to say the least. Businesses and individuals suffer badly and the extent of the damage may vary considerably. The internet is no longer a safe place to store valuable user data like login credentials and credit card numbers.

The types of phishing and their potential threat levels have compelled businesses to stay on their toes all the time! But, we will talk about them later. Let’s know a bit more about this menacing activity and how it works.

What normally happens here, an attacker masquerades as a trusted entity and dupes their victims into falling prey to their malicious acts such as opening an email or an instant message. They are tricked into clicking a link, which leads to the freezing of the system or the installation of malware.

Either way, both are part of a ransomware attack and the attackers get their hands upon sensitive pieces of information, to further aid their dangerous plan. This often leads to terrible consequences like identity theft or the stealing of funds. So, be extremely careful while handling sensitive data today.

It doesn’t stop here though!

What makes it even more terrifying?

Phishing is often the most preferred technique to gain a foothold in governmental or corporate networks. In this case, there is usually a larger attack into play like an advanced persistent threat (ATP) event.

In such an event, employees are compromised and there is a breach in security, leading to a distribution of malware inside the network. As a result, the secured data is then easily vulnerable to cyber-criminals, and this can lead to utterly terrifying results!

We have often heard about organizations suffering a similar fate and thus, sustaining heavy financial losses in addition to a tarnished goodwill, both in the market and among consumers. There are plenty of gruesome phishing examples to take lessons from!

So, it’s smart to be pro-active when it comes to cyber-security measures and adopting the best ways to counter-attack these problems.

Always aim to stay ahead of phishing attacks!

The 2 commonly known phishing techniques

• Spear phishing

This kind of phishing is targeted towards one particular enterprise or individual and not random application users. Spear Phishing is rather a more in-depth version of this form of cyber-attack.

The bad guys require intrinsic details of an organization like its power structure for their plan to see the light of day. So, how does phishing work?

The phishers often identify their targets based upon information abundantly available on social media sites.

It’s not a bad idea to be careful on social media anymore, is it?

Then, they send emails via spoofed addresses and you may feel it’s your favorite co-worker trying to communicate with you! Say, for example, the target maybe someone who is in finance.

So, the phisher might turn up disguised as his manager, requesting a lump sum bank transfer as soon as possible!

Petrifying, eh?

We understand your concern. And so, we have mentioned a list of ways to prevent such attacks. Check them out below. But first, let’s see what the other common techniques are.

• Whaling

Well, cyber-criminals aim for the biggest prize, when indulged in this form of phishing; CEOs or other high-ranking players of the game! They are considered particularly vulnerable. They are the top names in the organization and alas, aren’t full-time employees.

As a result, most often than not, they use personal email addresses for business purposes, that isn't necessarily protected by corporate email, making them susceptible to phishing attacks! Let’s check out an old example in this instance.

In 2008, cybercriminals took their game to a notch higher and targeted corporate CEOs. They used emails that claimed to contain FBI subpoenas inside. That year, nearly 2000 people fell prey to these frauds, as the scam success rate went up to an astounding 10%.

How terrible it must have been!

Some easy ways to prevent phishing

And so folks, here we are! It's a no-brainer that you must also know the counter-measures against these problems if you got to survive amidst such turbulent situations. Thus, we present you, a few easy tricks that you can always keep up your sleeves.

  1. • Two-factor authentication (2FA) – This is by far the most effective method while thinking about how to prevent phishing. It ensures an added verification layer while logging in to sensitive applications, thus enhancing their security to a greater extent!

    This relies on users having two things – something they are aware of, like a password and user name, and something they possess, for instance, their smartphones. 2FA ensures employees’ credentials aren’t used, even in their compromised state, as these alone do not guarantee entry.

  2. • Strict password management policies – 2FA is helpful, but it needs support for better functioning. Employees are needed to frequently change their passwords with a fixed expiry date. Management should keep an eye out on their staff and prohibit them from reusing a password multiple times.
  3. • Educational Campaigns – People must be aware of ways to stay safe from being a victim of cyber-attack. Programs designed to raise awareness about phishing attacks among employees are thus imperative to the overall cause.

A few standard cyber-security tips

  1. • Avoid clicking on external email links.
  2. • Don’t post personal data like phone number publicly on social media.
  3. • Watch out for URL redirects to a different website with a similar design
  4. • Check the spelling of the URLs in email links prior to entering sensitive information.

These ways and tips will help you better address the issues of phishing. Although effective, you might want to consider professional cyber-security services, for they are the best help you can get!


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11 Oct, 2019

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