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Every year businesses around the world lose millions of dollars to phishing attacks. The main reason behind the loss is the lack of awareness among employees. Today, phishing attacks, also known as social engineering attacks continue to play a dominant role in the cyber threat landscape. The frequency and sophistication level of these attacks are going up every passing year. However, the number can be significantly reduced by knowing what these attacks are, how they work, and how they are delivered.

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Email Phishing Examples

Email Phishing Examples

Email Phishing

An email that contains malicious links and attachments to steal the user’s data, including login credentials and credit card numbers, is known as email phishing. The email templates may vary based on the attacker and the target. However, the motive is the same, that is to steal your sensitive information or deliver malware.

How Does Email Phishing work?

Often cyber criminals impersonate someone the user will trust so that the user can fall for the attack easily. They will frame the email in such a way that will tempt the user to click on the malicious link or download the attachment that comes with the email. Most of the time the malicious actors create urgency so that the user doesn’t take time thinking about clicking or downloading the link or attachment.

Spear Phishing Examples

Spear Phishing Examples

Source: University of Delaware

Spear Phishing

Unlike other phishing attacks, spear phishing doesn’t rely on the “spray and pray” techniques. In spear phishing, cyber criminals create more personalized templates. This makes this attack vector more effective and dangerous than other phishing attacks such as email phishing.

How Does Spear Phishing Work?

In spear phishing, cyber criminals customize the email template based on the user’s position or company. This helps the attackers in tricking the user to believe that they have a connection.

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However, the motive is the same as email phishing. They will trick the user into clicking or downloading the link or attachment and hand over their sensitive information or install malware into their system.

Whaling Attack Examples

Whaling Attack Examples

Source: CSO Online

Whaling

A whaling attack is a type of phishing attack that targets high-profile executives. Basically, in this campaign cyber criminals target the ones that have access to highly valuable information. The attack vector is also known as whaling phishing or whaling phishing attack. Cyber criminals launch the campaign utilizing spear phishing techniques to go after profiles such as the C-suite.

How does Whaling Work?

Similar to spear phishing attack, in whaling attacks, cyber criminals customize the attack template based on the users’ position and company. Personal information is gathered from sources such as social media. Then they are tailored in such a way that they will include the user’s name, position, and basic information that will make the attack template look legitimate.

Smishing Attack Examples

Smishing Attack Examples

Source: Security Boulevard

Smishing

Smishing is a type of phishing attack and it is also known as SMS phishing. Unlike email phishing, in smishing attacks, the malicious links are embedded in SMS/text messages that are delivered via mobile phones. The motive behind the attack is the same as other phishing attacks.

How Does Smishing Work?

In a smishing attack, malicious actors deliver text messages to users urging them to respond to the message or click the link that is embedded in it. A user who falls for the trap and clicks the link ends up downloading the harmful code or submitting personal information. The messages are designed based on the targets. However, it can depend on the attacker.

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How Vishers Scam Victims

Vishing Attack Example

Vishing

Vishing is short for “Voice Phishing”. A vishing attack is completely different from other phishing attacks when it comes to delivery methods. In vishing, cyber criminals give a telephone call to the user and lure them to pass out personal information. Through the phone call, they try to obtain details of the credit card, employee ID, password, etc.

How Does Vishing Work?

A vishing attack follows one simple method: call the user, tell them something that will either create a panic situation or make them feel good about an offer. Through the call, the attacker will try to take out the personal information. But sometimes they can also send a message after or during the call and make the user download malicious software or click the harmful link.

Business Email Compromise Examples

Business Email Compromise Examples

Source: FBI

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

Business Email Compromise is a type of phishing attack that targets companies who conduct wire transfers and are in business with suppliers abroad. The attack vector is also known as one of the most financially damaging phishing attacks. BEC attacks leverage the use of email as a communication source for senior officials in an organization.

How Does Business Email Compromise Work?

To run a BEC attack campaign often cyber criminals collect publicly available email accounts. Email accounts of executives or high-level employees that control wire transfer payments of the company or those related to finance departments. Then cyber criminals send out the email templates that are designed for them.

How to Prevent Phishing?

There are several ways to prevent phishing however the most crucial method to protect an organization against a phishing attack is to train the employees. A trained employee will know how to identify the method and tactics used by cyber criminals to deliver phishing attacks. Moreover, they will also know how to defend against it and make smart security decisions if they come across phishing emails, messages, calls, etc.

Lack of phishing awareness can lead to severe consequences, from losing money to brand reputation to customers’ trust.

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