7 Most Common Phishing Attacks and Learning To Protect Against Them

Understand the most common phishing attacks and ways to prevent them
Protection from Phishing

Phishing attacks account for significant security threats to today’s enterprise information infrastructure. Organizations are relying on technology to conduct most of their businesses online. The digital space is seen as an opportunity by the cybercriminals to tap into the loopholes of the security periphery of these enterprises. On emailing platforms, too, they have started finding sophisticated means to carry out phishing attacks.

Email is one of the most commonly used methods used by attackers to exploit the vulnerabilities of employees,

i.e., the ‘people’ part of both small and big enterprises. It is the most popular attack vector for delivery of malicious packages to targets.

Thus, emails play a crucial role in executing phishing attacks for cyber adversaries. Attackers transfer a malicious link or a string of viruses like a Trojan horse to the victim through an email. Uninformed tappers of these links are hard hit when they lose sensitive and confidential information about themselves, or their enterprise and sometimes, a considerable amount of money.

Apart from emails, phishing attacks can also be carried out through voice, SMS, and various other means. A list of 7 most common phishing attacks and ways to prevent phishing are given below

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Email phishing

In this type of phishing, attackers send official-looking emails with embedded links. With the receivers unaware, these embedded links are malicious links that redirect them to innocuous-looking websites, which ask for personal and sensitive information. These links are an attempt, by the attackers, to steal their data. It is often difficult to distinguish a fake email from a verified one because of their official and legitimate look.

Most of the time, the embedded link in the email will not take the recipient to the web address mentioned. It is a clear sign of phishing attempt by the hacker.



The most important thing to note is that legitimate companies, as well as banks, never ask for confidential personal information like bank account number, usernames, passwords, etc. So, always resist sharing your personal information to outsiders. Use the official website instead of using the embedded link. Rather than tapping on the same link, the recipient should open the link in a new browser window. The easiest way to identify malicious emails is through their lousy grammar.






Vishing is also known as voice or VoIP phishing. With vishing, attackers attempt to lure users into revealing critical financial or personal information over a telephonic communication. The cyber-criminals behind the attack generally claim to be salespersons or account representatives. Hackers have also been able to use the brand names of recognized companies in the past.

In a recent case in India, low-cost carrier IndiGo has claimed that its brand name is being misused by cyber adversaries to extract personal and confidential bank details of customers using a vishing scam.



The most effective way to prevent this threat is by never providing your credentials to anyone over the phone. You should treat any request by someone claiming to be an authority who is asking for your password with disbelief. Also, report any suspicious call immediately to the authorities.






The term ‘SMiShing’ is a short form of SMS phishing. Scammers trick the victim into downloading a virus into their operating system through the use of an embedded link, which they send via a text message. An example of SMiShing – “We confirm that you’ve signed up for our website. You will be charged $3/day unless you cancel your order: www.smishinglink.com” (The URL is just an example). These links, when opened, will automatically inject harmful viruses into your system and steal your credentials.



Avoid clicking suspicious links sent by an unknown sender. In case you have responded to a malicious number, then call your bank right away to block your debit card and secure your account information.






Pharming is one of the most complicated forms of phishing attacks which involve compromised DNS servers. Cybercriminals trick the users by redirecting them to a bogus site in which real IP addresses of websites are referred to as ‘poisoned’. This malicious activity is carried out to install malware onto a server, to fraudulently redirect to a bogus site asking for personal financial and sensitive information. This attack is carried out by sending fabricated emails to lure the victims.



Check the security control whenever you visit a website. The security control on an official website is the lock and key symbol, along with the https with the word ‘s’ as a reference to security. It is also essential to use a trustworthy Internet Service Provider (ISP), which comes with a sound security system.





In-session phishing

In-session phishing refers to the use of fake pop-ups on legitimate websites. During the browsing session, a small window pops up, usually demanding private credentials of the user. The cybercriminals then steal these credentials. In-session phishing can be useful even on official websites, as the user is unaware of the fake aspects.



The first and foremost solution to safeguard yourself from in-session phishing is to block the pop-ups on the window screen. However, if you still come across a pop-up on a banking site, then always ensure that it is actually from your bank. Usually, banking screens or pop-ups asking for passwords disappear in less than 10 minutes.





Watering hole attacks

A watering hole attack is the most advanced method of a phishing attempt. In this attack, hackers infect legitimate websites, such as banking websites with a large number of visitors. They wait for users to access these websites and reveal their critical information, which they then steal. It is a type of malware attack carried out on official websites, to gain access to their network by tricking users.



Update your software to protect against this type of threats. For that, you can even hire a professional IT service provider. Your online activities with VPN and your browser’s private browsing feature should be hidden. Although these attacks have been able to bypass enterprise security controls in the past, you should closely watch your targeted network for additional security.





Search Engine Attack

When hackers manipulate search engines in such a way that infected websites (typically created by offering cheap products or amazing deals) rank at the top of the page, then it is commonly known as search engine attack. The uninformed users, who think that Google ranks only official websites, fall prey to infected websites. It consequently leads to leakage of their credentials on these websites and a successful phishing attempt by cybercriminals.



These websites typically claim to be online retailers with amazing discounts or free giveaways. The other examples can be employment opportunities or emergency warnings. Thus, check the source of every company you are visiting online and be suspicious of free deals or the products being offered at throwaway prices.






In the information age, while you are willing to shell out your private information on the internet, you might not be aware of the impending phishing attack on your system. Awareness is the key to preventing these attacks and being well-prepared.

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