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  • Writer's pictureJordan Chadwick

A Deep Dive Into Phishing Scams

Phishing scams remain one of the most prevalent and successful types of cyberattacks today, so being aware of the danger they pose to organizations of all sizes is extremely crucial. Your organization could easily be the next victim if you don't clearly understand how threat actors leverage phishing emails.

This post covers the intent behind phishing emails, the various types of phishing attacks, and most importantly, how organizations can defend themselves against phishing.

The goal behind phishing emails

Cybercriminals use phishing emails to lure unsuspecting victims into taking actions that will affect business operations, such as sending money, sharing passwords, downloading malware or revealing sensitive data. The primary intent behind a phishing attack is to steal money, data or both.

Financial theft — The most common aim of a phishing attempt is to steal money. Scammers use various tactics, such as business email compromise (BEC), to carry out fraudulent fund transfers or ransomware attacks to extort money.

Data theft — For cybercriminals, data, such as usernames and passwords, identity information (e.g., social security numbers) and financial data (e.g., credit card numbers or bank account information), is as good as gold. They can use login credentials to commit financial thefts or inject malware. Sensitive data can also be sold on the dark web for profit.

Be vigilant and look out for these signs that an email might be a phishing attempt:

• If an email suggests clicking on a link, be wary. Scammers send out phishing emails with links containing malicious software that can steal data and personal information.

• If an email directs the recipient to a website, be cautious. It could be a malicious website that can steal personal information, such as login credentials.

• If an email contains an attachment, be alert. Malicious extensions disguised to look like a document, invoice or voicemail can infect the recipient's computer and steal personal information.

• If an email tries to rush the recipient into taking an urgent action, such as transferring funds, be suspicious. Try to verify the authenticity of the request before taking any action.

Different types of phishing

It's important to note that phishing attacks are constantly evolving and can target organizations of all sizes. While phishing emails are a common method used by cybercriminals, they also use text messages, voice calls and social media messaging.

Here are the different kinds of phishing traps that you should watch out for:

Spear phishing — Scammers send highly personalized emails targeting individuals or businesses to convince them to share sensitive information such as login credentials or credit card information. Spear phishing emails are also used for spreading infected malware.

Whaling — A type of

spear phishing, whale phishing or whaling is a scam targeting high-level executives where the perpetrators impersonate trusted sources or websites to steal information or money.

Smishing — An increasingly popular form of cyberattack, smishing uses text messages claiming to be from trusted sources to convince victims to share sensitive information or send money.

Vishing — Cybercriminals use vishing or voice phishing to call victims while impersonating somebody from the IRS, a bank or the victim’s office, to name a few. The primary intent of voice phishing is to convince the victim to share sensitive personal information.

Business email compromise (BEC) — A BEC is a spear phishing attack that uses a seemingly legitimate email address to trick the recipient, who is often a senior-level executive. The most common aim of a BEC scam is to convince an employee to send money to the cybercriminal while making them believe they are performing a legitimate, authorized business transaction.

Angler phishing — Also known as social media phishing, this type of scam primarily targets social media users. Cybercriminals with fake customer service accounts trick disgruntled customers into revealing their sensitive information, including bank details. Scammers often target financial institutions and e-commerce businesses.

Brand impersonation — Also known as brand spoofing, brand impersonation is a type of phishing scam carried out using emails, texts, voice calls and social media messages. Cybercriminals impersonate a popular business to trick its customers into revealing sensitive information. While brand impersonation is targeted mainly at the customers, the incident can tarnish the brand image.

Bolster your email security

Email is crucial for the success of many organizations. However, implementing email best practices and safety standards can be challenging. Consider partnering with an IT service provider like Payload Networks to help you navigate the complexities of email security. We have the resources and tools to protect organizations from cyberattacks, helping business leaders to focus on critical tasks without any worry. Contact us now!

Meanwhile, to learn how to secure your inbox, download our eBook — Your Guide to Email Safety — that will help you improve your email security and avoid potential traps.



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