Phishing is the fraudulent use of electronic communications to deceive and take advantage of users. Phishing attacks attempt to gain sensitive, confidential information such as usernames, passwords, credit card information, network credentials, and more. By posing as a legitimate individual or institution via phone or email, cyber attackers use social engineering to manipulate victims into performing specific actions—like clicking on a malicious link or attachment—or willfully divulging confidential information.
Both individuals and organizations are at risk; almost any kind of personal or organizational data can be valuable, whether it be to commit fraud or access an organization’s network. In addition, some phishing scams can target organizational data in order to support espionage efforts or state-backed spying on opposition groups.
Phishing attempts most often begin with an email attempting to obtain sensitive information through some user interaction, such as clicking on a malicious link or downloading an infected attachment.
Phishing scams can also employ phone calls, text messages, and social media tools to trick victims into providing sensitive information.
Some specific types of phishing scams use more targeted methods to attack certain individuals or organizations.
Spear phishing email messages won’t look as random as more general phishing attempts. Attackers will often gather information about their targets to fill emails with more authentic context. Some attackers even hijack business email communications and create highly customized messages.
Attackers are able to view legitimate, previously delivered email messages, make a nearly identical copy of it—or “clone”—and then change an attachment or link to something malicious.
Whaling specifically targets high profile and/or senior executives in an organization. The content of a whaling attempt will often present as a legal communication or other high-level executive business.
Organizations should educate employees to prevent phishing attacks, particularly how to recognize suspicious emails, links, and attachments. Cyber attackers are always refining their techniques, so continued education is imperative.
Some tell-tale signs of a phishing email include:
Additional technical security measures can include:
Original Author: Forcepoint
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