5 Common Phishing Attacks and How To Protect Yourself Against Them
Phishing scams continues to be a widespread problem for businesses and individuals alike. But there are several ways to recognize that you could be getting scammed.
- By Susan Alexandra
- Sep 09, 2019
Scams: we tend to tempt the idea of believing one from time to time. Maybe a local jeweler tries—and fails—to convince you that your ring will cost $100 to resize, even though any other jeweler will do it for $30. Maybe a friend tries to sell you his PlayStation 4 for $100 and forgets to tell you it doesn’t take discs anymore.
Point is, scams are everywhere, Internet included. One of these scams tend to trick thousands of people per year, and these scams are known as phishing scams. These scams use social engineering or manipulation to trick victims into revealing personal information. There are quite a few, so let’s look at some common phishing scams.
1. White Whale Phishing
If you’re a high-ranking employee or executive at your business, you need to watch out for white whale phishing.
This scam focuses on one individual, specifically an important individual. For example, the scammer may send the CEO of a company an email claiming to need access to confidential business information. The end goal is to gain enough information to scam a bunch of people through one target—the white whale.
2. SMS Phishing
I receive a text every now and then from a random number claiming to need information for my medication refills. However, I know it’s untrue, and is in fact a form of SMS phishing.
SMS phishing is simple: send the victim(s) a text with a link to a sketchy website, ask for them to enter personal information, then steal/use said information. These texts are typically sent in bulk to many different users, though this method of phishing can be used for white whale phishing.
3. Email Phishing
Hello, I’m a Nigerian prince who needs you to hold a large sum of money for me. I’ll let you keep half!
Yes, the classic scam is considered phishing, and so are the thousands of emails just like it. Go through your spam folder and tell me how many emails you get that claim to be someone important, know you personally or claim you won a contest you never even entered; probably a lot, huh?
Read More: Justice Department Indicts 80 People in Massive Online Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme
4. Phone Call Phishing
Perhaps the most common scam besides email phishing is phone call phishing. We’ve all gotten a call from our “credit card company” or “Microsoft” about a potential problem, and we hang up the phone, right? Hopefully you do, because it’s always, always, always a scam.
If the IRS caught you for tax evasion, they won’t call you—they’ll knock down your door. Don’t give out personal information over the phone unless you know the person or people on the other end.
5. Browser Phishing
Remember how in SMS phishing I mentioned sketchy websites? Well, that's a whole other type of phishing called browser or search engine phishing.
Browser phishing requires a scammer to create their own fake webpage to trick users into either thinking it’s a real site like Amazon, or the page is a legit front, like a social media site. Either way, the site is anything but legitimate, and the end goal is your information being stored onto their servers.
How Do You Prevent Phishing?
There are more types of phishing scams, but the best way to prevent any type of phishing affecting you is to use common sense to identify if the current situation seems “legitimate.” If a deal, a phone call or email is too good to be true, reeks of unprofessionalism and/or gives you a bad gut feeling, it’s best not to indulge it.
Besides yourself, there are other ways to stay secure. Instead of trusting that “Microsoft employee” to fix your laptop, contact Microsoft support yourself to keep your laptop secure from phishing. Don’t trust deals that are too good to be true either, for example, if a VPN deal is offering a 99 percent discount—it’s a scam. In addition, antivirus software is constantly being updated to outpace new phishing scams, so these programs will be able to prevent you from being phished.
Phishing is a widespread problem with simple solutions, so don’t let yourself fall victim to it.