Phishing attacks are one of the main tools in every hacker’s arsenal while also having the capability of being the most devastating attack of all. They are very simple and easy to carry out, and anyone can fall prey to them if they’re not careful, which is why they’re so dangerous.

However, once you learn about phishing attacks and know what to look for, they become far easier to prevent.

What Phishing Attacks Are

To put it simply, phishing attacks are a method of trying to manipulate someone to obtain sensitive information from them by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. This means that phishing attacks are a type of social engineering, which itself is a form of psychological manipulation with the intent of getting someone to do your bidding for you.

Most often, phishing attacks take the form of an email that appears to have been sent by someone that the one receiving the email can trust. However, they do take on other forms, some of them more insidious than others.

The Different Types of Phishing Attacks

In order to be able to detect if something is a phishing attempt, you first need to learn about all of the different kinds of phishing attacks that exist. While some of them are rather straight-forward, there are a few complex attacks that even some security experts have a tough time detecting.

Some types of phishing also rely on tricking the receiver into downloading malware rather than giving up their information themselves.

Deceptive phishing

This is the most basic form of phishing and, as a result, is often referred to as “traditional phishing.” Deceptive phishing relies on sending someone an email and trying to get them to divulge sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, etc. in order to take advantage of said information.

The emails will typically appear as though they’re being sent from a trustworthy source such as a large company like a bank or another entity who the receiver would feel comfortable giving their private information to.

Some types of phishing also rely on tricking the receiver into downloading malware rather than giving up their information themselves. Once the malware is installed on the target’s computer, the hacker can potentially gain access to their private data that way.

Spear phishing attacks are specifically targeted towards one individual or business

Spear phishing

While traditional phishing attacks will generally target people at random hoping to get someone to bite, spear phishing attacks are specifically targeted towards one individual or business and customized in order to increase the likelihood that the intended target will give up their sensitive information.

An example of this might be a hacker learning the names of their target’s family and then sending them an email pretending to be one of their siblings needing money.

Whaling

There is also a kind of spear phishing that specifically targets high-profile targets such as high-ranking executives in a large company. In this scenario, the hacker will try to target the executive and attempt to obtain their passwords and account details in order to steal as much company data as possible.

Pharming

Unlike most types of phishing which rely on sending direct communication towards one or multiple people, pharming involves setting up a fraudulent website that, at first glance, appears to look like another, trustworthy, website. The hacker can then obtain account credential like usernames and passwords from people logging into the phony site thinking it’s real.
It’s even possible for a hacker to infect someone’s computer with malware that will redirect them to the fraudulent website whenever they attempt to visit the real one.

Cloudphish will still catch it and alert you before any harm is done.

How to Detect and Prevent Phishing Attacks

One of the best ways to prevent phishing attacks is to learn more about them and be able to detect a phishing attempt before it’s able to do any damage. Once you’ve learned what a phishing attack is and all the different forms it can take, it’s much easier to tell when an email or other form of electronic communication is fraudulent.

But while educating yourself about phishing attacks and remaining vigilant for them can certainly go a long way towards keeping you safe, in order to have the best possible security against phishing you need to use software that is specifically designed to stop phishing attacks before they can cause you any damage.

With email security software, you can rest easy as it will do all the heavy lifting of scanning every email you receive and alert you when one of them is a phishing attempt. You can further increase your security by combining this kind of software with Cloudphish, which can catch even the most sophisticated phishing attempts that would otherwise get past your security software. Even if the email was spoofed through a forged email address, thus appearing to come from a trusted source, Cloudphish will still catch it and alert you before any harm is done.

Although hackers continue to use more and more sophisticated forms of phishing, taking some precautions through learning about their methods and using the best software available to you will help keep you safe from their attempts to steal your private information.