Phishing is one of the most used attack methods in the cyber world. Phishing is a cyber-attack method in which an attacker sends a fraudulent message or mail to obtain information from a target. It is one of the most used social engineering methods in the cyber world.
The reason phishing attacks keep succeeding is that they can be extremely sophisticated. Not just that, even the most sophisticated phishing attacks are pretty simple to execute, which makes them that more dangerous. Phishing attacks need not be about just gathering information. An attacker can also deliver malware to the target’s system using mails, files, links, etc.
There is no one standard format or template for a phishing attack. The most common method of phishing is through emails.
Phishing emails are emails designed to trick a user into giving their information or delivering malware to a target system. Phishing emails remain the most popular method of social attack ever since the ILOVEYOU virus- yep, the love bug virus that shook the entire cyber world in the early 2000s by infecting over ten million systems.
Many don’t perceive phishing as a major threat in the digital world. However, phishing attacks keep succeeding, with millions of users receiving phishing emails every day.
How to Identify Phishing Emails?
Phishing emails come in many forms, from single-line mail to a very descriptive story. The best way to identify phishing emails is by observing the mail id from which you got the mail. Always ensure that the mail is from someone you trust before opening it or sending any personal information.
Phishing emails are usually disguised as mails from popular companies like PayPal, eBay, etc. The attacker tries to impart a sense of urgency in the target so they won’t think too much before clicking.
For instance, a phishing email might say, “Greetings, Your boss is furious that you didn’t send the amount to xxxx yet. Please do that ASAP, or the deal is off.” If you get emails trying to impart a sense of urgency, immediately contact the person you were supposed to contact and ask if the message is from them.
Another way to identify phishing emails is by reading the messages carefully. Usually, companies check the message several times before sending it to the customers. If there are any grammatical mistakes like spelling errors, that could hint that the message is a phishing message.
Finally, do not click on any links that ask you to pay. Even if they are from legit sources, it is usually best to directly open the website or the app and pay. It may be too much work at first, but if you get used to it, you will be reducing the attack surface a lot.
Dangers of Phishing Emails
- Personal information theft which may lead to identity theft
- Delivery of ransomware to your system
- Delivery of spyware
- Finance-motivated phishing to steal your accounts or assets
Phishing is a simple yet sophisticated social engineering technique that cannot be presented wholly in the IT space. However, you can easily identify phishing emails through the methods we discussed in this article and protect yourself and your organization from getting scammed.