Understanding Phishing: Types, Methodology, and Prevention Tips is the first step in countering it.

Phishing is the main source of data breaches, according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR). The data also shows that phishing is commonly used for cyber espionage, with phishing accounting for more than three-quarters of all known occurrences.

According to IBM’s findings in the 2019 Cost of a Data Breach study, hostile assaults including “malware infections, criminal insiders, phishing/social engineering, and SQL injection” accounted for 51% of occurrences in all examined firms.

Clearly, phishing continues to reign supreme as one of the most persistent and effective cyber-attack techniques. In this article, we’ll go over what phishing is, the many sorts of phishing, and how to protect your company from these types of assaults.

What is the Definition of Phishing?

Simply said, phishing is the deception of consumers through the use of electronic communications to get sensitive and frequently extremely confidential information. The kind of sensitive information that attackers consider to be of high value will vary depending on the circumstances of the attack, but they typically include access credentials, financial or personally identifying information, and other information.

The majority of phishing assaults take occur over the phone or over email, with attackers impersonating authentic individuals or organisations that the target is familiar with in order to elicit an emotional response through social engineering. This response is intended to reveal the target’s sensitive information. Phishing attacks differ from other types of cyber-attacks in that the modus operandi relies on consumers’ faith in other people or well-known businesses and organisations. They can even take advantage of a person’s beliefs by appearing to support a cause that the user is passionate about. For example, just after the epidemic began, there was a rise of phishing attacks from groups posing as well-known charity groups, attempting to take advantage of people’s high levels of empathy in the aftermath of a worldwide calamity.

Phishing attacks can be broad in scope, affecting hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, or they can be extremely focused, affecting individuals or employees at specific firms. Phishing attacks have also been employed for cyber espionage against organisations and countries in the past.

Types of Phishing

Users are often prompted to do one of two basic actions in response to phishing attacks:

  1. Divulge sensitive information – For example, the email may contain a link to a faked website of a highly trusted source, such as a bank, or a payment gateway, and encourage recipients to submit their personal information. Fake login page attacks are very common, and they frequently use precise clones of well-known and trusted websites.
  2. Click on malicious links to download malware – These attacks are more straightforward, usually claiming to reward the user in some way, such as an unexpected prize or something seemingly harmless, like a zip file containing a document you actually need, such as a biodata/resume or other work-related documents. Unless the attacker’s demands are granted, downloading the virus can end in the hijacking of vital system files or the entire machine or network.

Phishing can be broadly classified into the following categories:

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing refers to highly focused phishing attempts against individuals. Criminals spy on targets using publicly available information, such as social media, and fake email addresses to appear as someone from a trustworthy source in this type of attack. If you’re the target, for example, the attack could come in the guise of an email from your boss or department/branch head asking or “instructing” you to conduct a financial transaction.


Whaling is similar to spear phishing, with the exception that the targets are usually high-profile individuals in positions of influence in public or private organisations. These high-value individuals are frequently under extreme time constraints, or simply choose to communicate via personal email rather than company channels. This also makes them vulnerable because they are no longer protected by the corporate network. Tricking high-value targets may involve time and effort on the attacker’s part, but the huge returns make it worthwhile.

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

Consider receiving a message from your company’s chairman or CEO requesting that you take immediate action. Aren’t you more inclined to comply with the request as soon as possible if you aren’t in direct line of sight with the business leader? Business email compromise (BEC) attacks are known to take advantage of this type of response. They frequently pose as high-ranking executives from major corporations or governance/financial institutions, requesting that victims log into specific accounts or initiate a financial transaction, such as a lump-sum money transfer to a certain account.

Clone Phishing

Clone phishing entails creating an email communication that looks exactly like the original message the victim is familiar with. The only difference between the original and the copied message is the attachment or link, which will be replaced in the cloned copy with a malicious one. Cloned attacks are frequently issued in response to genuine messages, claiming to be the “updated” version. Cloned websites with faked domains can also be used in cloned attacks.

Vishing: Phishing on Phone calls

Voice phishing, also known as vishing, comprises voice communications from entities posing as genuine enterprises, such as government or financial institutions, requesting private information such as account numbers or passwords from the victim.

Smishing: Phishing via Text message

SMS phishing, often known as smishing, is the practise of duping targets via text messages that appear to be from reputable sources, such as individuals or businesses the user trusts. Smishing is on the rise as a successful tactic for duping users into giving personal information, as individuals become more suspicious of emails and communicate largely through texting.


Snowshoeing attacks typically send data across numerous domains and IP addresses. Because each of them sends out messages in small quantities, spam filtration systems take a long time to discover them. These attacks can also be organised to send out large amounts of data in a short amount of time, culminating in hailstorm-like strikes.

Consider contacting IT Support Houston for more information on the many forms of phishing attacks and how to protect yourself from them.

What to Do If You Responded to a Phishing Email

If you believe you have been the victim of phishing, please contact IdentityTheft.gov and follow the instructions to report the attack as quickly as possible.

Consider updating your network or computer’s security software and running a comprehensive scan if you fear you have downloaded malware by inadvertently.

Tips on How to Identify Phishing Attacks

Even though phishing attempts are sophisticated, there are always telling signals in the email copy that can almost spring out at you after close inspection:

  • Promises large sums of money in exchange for little labour “typos” in spelling and grammar
  • Greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings, greetings,
  • The use of a strong emotional tone or the threat of action (that rings false with usual temperament of sender)
  • Attachments that are unusual, especially executables.
    executable files
  • Additional letters in web addresses or domain names

Tips on How to Prevent Phishing Attacks

Your company’s IT department should be proactive in preventing phishing attacks, which might include a variety of technological safeguards such as:

  • Use machine learning and natural language processing techniques to deploy dependable email spam filters.
  • Inbound email is “sandboxed,” ensuring that consumers are never exposed to harmful links.
  • To safeguard against email spoofing, encourage the implementation of the DMARC standard.
  • Enable two-factor authentication on all devices that have network access.
  • At all times, keep an eye on and analyse online traffic.
  • Pen-testing your company’s infrastructure to find security flaws
  • Users’ knowledge of such hazards should be raised.
  • Encourage user vigilance by rewarding them for catching phishing emails, for example.
  • Use advanced password hygiene and require users to update their passwords on a regular basis.

Houston IT Services is a wonderful location to start learning about phishing prevention and how to protect your company from sophisticated attackers.

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