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The internet has been dubbed as the ‘information superhighway’ since its inception—a fact shown by the billions of people exchanging information through various virtual communication channels across the globe.

By making digital connections globally possible, the internet has also become a breeding ground for malevolent cybercriminals.

In recent time, one of the many ways these cybercriminals incite danger on millions of unsuspecting internet users is through Phishing attacks.

Similar to hacking, phishers trick users to think that their presence on a particular web platform is secured.

Don’t fall prey to a phishing scam. Today, we will guide you through easy ways you can keep your personal data safe from vicious phishing modus operandi.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is the malicious act of acquiring sensitive and critical information from people or organizations, by posing as a reliable online entity. Most phishing attacks are performed by sending emails or malicious third-party websites to solicit private information.

Generally, phishers trick users to provide essential credentials such as passwords, usernames and credit card numbers. Most phishing attacks are motivated by an indirect extortion of money from victims.

Most common types of Phishing techniques

Phishing attacks come in many forms. To name a few, here are the commonly used Phishing tactics to date:

Link Manipulation

Malicious attackers use manipulated website links as bait to trick users. For example, a URL attached to an email appears to belong a credible website or organization. When in fact, the displayed link leads to a visually identical yet malicious web page.

Aside from phishing out critical user information, these malicious websites can also contain malicious codes that perform unsolicited installation of programs on the user’s local device.

Spear Phishing

  • This phishing technique is considered highly personalized and is designed to target specific individuals or organizations.
  • User accounts that are typically being victimized are those that have weak to no web security measures in place. Most of these victims are average employees in large organizations.
  • Often, cybercriminals use this technique to obtain data from victims such as usernames and passwords.
  • Getting access to the account allows an attacker to monitor and read email circulation. Ultimately, this gives them a chance to conduct surveillance over the entire organization’s transactions and thereby, extort money.
  • This kind of Phishing technique was allegedly used by attackers linked to the North Korean government to send fake email invitations to US electric companies.
  • Downloading the attached invitations reportedly led to the malicious download of malware to the victim’s local computer network.

Clone Phishing

  • Meanwhile, this type of attack works by cloning a legitimate email message that was previously sent are redelivered with specific alterations by the attacker.
  • Any attachments or link within the cloned email are replaced with malicious content and appears to be redelivered copy of the original email.
  • This technique is particularly advantageous in deceiving victims because of the established trust on the original spoofed

Whale Phishing

  • The term “whale” phishing was coined to describe the nature of victims this particular attack targets.
  • This particular form of attack ensnares explicitly high-profile individuals such as top managers, CEOs and other high ranking officials in an organization.
  • It begins as a typical phishing attack but tailor-fits malicious emails to the victim’s role in an organization, for instance, a company.
  • Seemingly genuine emails commonly contain fake customer complaints, legal notifications such as subpoenas and other spoofed messages that usually masquerade as trusted partners, business and security institutions.
  • In a report, a man was charged with conducting 100 Million Dollar whaling attack on two US tech companies. The perpetrator posed as a hardware manufacturer to trick the employees of the firm to transfer money into his accounts.

Ways to Be Safe From Phishing Attacks

As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated and difficult to detect, it is imperative that individual web users and organizations, institute web security measures to ensure safety in all online correspondence and transactions. Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Identify Phishing Attacks

Distinguishing elements of legitimate emails from suspicious ones is a good line of defense against phishing attacks. To arm individual users and members of organizations with knowledge to protect critical web data, here are some indicators of possible phishing attacks:

  • Be wary of unsolicited emails from websites asking for confidential or personal information.
  • Remember that legitimate companies will never request for private information such as login credentials by clicking a suspicious website link.
  • Hover over attached links on emails before clicking to ensure the authenticity of attached website links. By doing such safety measures, one can verify if the website being linked to is not spoofed.
  • Check if the company image or URL is not visually altered to appear identical or authentic to original logos.
  • If emails appear suspicious, such as those that incite fear through the use of threats, delete it immediately or report it to an IT or computer center.
  • Inform the company who allegedly sent the suspicious email. In this manner, you can alert them that a phishing attempt has made it through their web security has been compromised.
  1. Harness Strong Web Security
  • A good-quality web security software is a good investment against possible cyber-attacks especially for organizations that cater to a network of clients and employees on a large scale.
  • Keep browsers and operating systems up-to-date. In most cases, web users do not realize the danger of running networks under outdated and unsupported operating systems. It is, however, important to note that cybercriminals find it easier exploit any vulnerabilities in security leading to data breaches, denial of services and other system crash issues.
  1. Establish High-Tech Authentication Measures
  • A multiple factor authentication system is also an essential protection against any phishing attack. Enabling such securities will not make it easy for attackers to access user accounts.

 Conduct Training on Web Security

  • Organizations can step-up their members’ or employees’ security awareness by conducting web security training. Simulated phishing attacks can be undertaken to demonstrate best how a particular attack should be treated to avoid a data

Stay Vigilant

            The World Wide Web has brought changes—both positive and negative. It is no longer safe to conclude that everything in the virtual world plays to our advantage. Therefore, it is crucial that we become conscious of our digital correspondence. Do be a victim of phishing attacks—watch out for fake alerts.