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Phishing: Meaning, types of phishing scams and how to prevent it

[ecis2016.org] In this article we explain the various kinds of phishing attacks and simple steps to guard against it.

Phishing meaning

Phishing is a type of fraudulent activity, committed by a person or a group of persons, on internet users, with the intent to trick them into revealing confidential or personal information. Usually, the attacker sends a fraudulent link or email, to snatches personal data from the user’s computer or mobile. There are various techniques through which people get tricked into sharing sensitive information – text messages, spam emails and social media are common techniques.

Phishing techniques

1. Text messages: Here, an individual or a group of individuals send messages on your mobile pretending to be a trustworthy company. The messages lure the user with lucrative offers and trick people into sharing important financial details, in order to earn quick money. SMS phishing is also referred to as ‘Smishing’.

2. Spam emails: Here, you will receive an email that will be embedded with a link that will take you to a malicious website that can either ask for your email and password or install malware on your computer system. In either case, you will be leaking your data to a third party, who can misuse that information by tracking your internet footprint.

3. Social media: Fraudsters also resort to phishing by using social media and dating sites to trick users into a virtual romance, which is then used to blackmail the user.

4. Call scams: In this method, scammers, pretending to be from a legitimate company, call people using internet proxies. They extract personal information by promising lucrative deals on banks’ services and insurances. This is also referred to as ‘Vishing’.

5. Computer hijacking: This occurs when someone has remote access to your computer. The scammer can exploit your computer by misusing your personal data. They can gain access to your social media and bank account.

How to identify a phishing attack

  1. You will receive a call, text, email, etc. that will offer lucrative deals that might sound very dubious or too good to be true.
  2. You will receive information from an unknown recipient who might sound very legitimate.
  3. You may receive texts, emails, etc., with strange attachments or suspicious links.

Repercussions of replying to phishing

Phishing messages will lead you to visit malicious sites and ask for your sensitive information. With this information, can hijack your bank account, social media account, email accounts, etc.

Preventing phishing scams: How to protect yourself?

  1. Install an antivirus that provides phishing protection. With regular and effective updates, several anti-viruses can protect you from malicious websites.
  2. You can be vigilant when answering calls from unknown numbers. You should block those numbers immediately and report it to the concerned network authority and IT cell.
  3. Always check whether the site is secure and encrypted before entering your personal information.
  4. Update your browser and keep changing your password regularly.
  5. Block all pop-up ads after inspecting them.

FAQs

What is phishing?

Phishing is a fraud, in which an attacker pretends to be a reputable person or entity and communicates with a user through email, SMS or other forms of communication and distributes malicious links or software, to gain confidential information about the user.

What is an example of phishing?

A fake email from a bank, informing the user that their account has been compromised and asking the user to confirm their account details, thereby leading the user to divulge sensitive information, is an example of phishing.

Is phishing a cybercrime?

Yes, phishing is a cybercrime.

Source: https://ecis2016.org/.
Copyright belongs to: ecis2016.org

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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