Phishing: What is It?

iQuanti: Phishing is a cyberattack where cybercriminals disguise themselves as legitimate organizations or other trusted entities to trick you into providing private information like login credentials, credit card details or even your Social Security number (SSN). 

Cybercriminals can contact victims by email, telephone or text message. The attackers can then use this information to access essential accounts, resulting in identity theft and financial loss.

What does a phishing attack look like?

Phishers usually mask their attacks so they appear to come from a known business or service the victim uses. Additionally, phishing extends beyond email and website scams. There's also "vishing," which is voice phishing, "smishing," which is text message or SMS phishing, and several other phishing tactics cybercriminals use for their attacks. 

Common traits of phishing messages

  1. Urgency: Messages that claim to be urgent or ask you to act fast may be phishing scams. Some of these messages even urge you to respond within minutes. Other phishing messages may claim that if you do not act, whatever legitimate organization the attackers are impersonating may suspend your account. 
  2. The best offer ever: If the message is too good to be true, like a lucrative offer or attention-grabbing statement like "get your free phone now," it could also be a sign that you are the target of a phishing scam. The goal is to grab your attention enough that you can't help but click. However, you would be wise to remember that if it's too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Links and attachments: Phishing always requires the victim to click something in the email like an attachment or link. Often, phishing URLs are variations of a familiar URL but are slightly off, meaning that there is suddenly a number at the end, so instead of "name.com," it will say "name1.com." 
  4. Suspicious sender: If anything seems out of the ordinary about the message sender, don't click on it. Being overly cautious is better than falling victim to a cyber attack. If someone needs to reach you, they'll call.

What is the history of phishing?

The first phishing-related lawsuit came in 2004 against a teenager in California. The teen created a fraudulent "America Online" landing page and could gain sensitive information from users and access their credit card details to withdraw money from their accounts.

How do you protect yourself from an attack?

Cybercriminals are savvy and know how to adapt to changing cybersecurity technology. Of course, no single tactic is 100% effective, but organizations and individual users can do a lot by understanding security awareness.

The success of phishing attacks depends on how educated the target is on these types of scams. You should always be aware of who you give your personal information to and where you publicize that information, especially when using the internet. The more wary you are, the better protected you will be.

Source: iQuanti, Inc.

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Categories: IT Security

Tags: cyberattack, cybersecurity, phishing