How to Detect a Phishing Attack (Step by Step Guide)

How to detect phishing attack

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Phishing is one of the most popular hacking method used to gain access to confidential user information. To save money and avoid becoming a victim of scammers, it is important to know what phishing is and how to prevent it.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a social engineering method whose main purpose is to access confidential information. In simple words, logins, passwords, Credit Card Details, Personal data and anything else that can be useful for the attackers.

Imagine the following scenario: You receive a professional email that makes a serious and credible impression. Not only that, but the sender of the e-mail is your bank. In this e-mail you are asked to click on a link. According to the e-mail, a technical fault has occurred at the bank. To ensure the security of your Account, you need to login into your Account. What will do you? It is most likely you will click and enter your bank login details.

Some Internet users are now aware of such attacks. Nevertheless, phishing attacks have increased dramatically in recent years. While users are becoming more sensitive, cyber attacks are becoming smarter and more sophisticated at the same time. The strategies and implementation of these attacks have never been more professional and personalized than they are today.

Common Types of Phishing

Phishing attacks have increased dramatically in recent years. While users are becoming more sensitive, cyber attacks are becoming smarter and more sophisticated at the same time.

Here are some common types of Phishing

1.Deceptive PHISHING

The most common form of a dangerous phishing attack method, which we have also highlighted in the example above. In this case, the attacker tries to obtain sensitive information. For example, he manages to do so via a fake email or website.

The attacker pretends that the e-mail or website originates from a trustworthy organization. This unscrupulous pretense is a prerequisite for the entire strategy.

The goal of this attack is to trigger a user action. Such an action can be clicking a link in the email or download a file. The victim may then be asked to update their user data or make a payment.

The more professional the email or target page looks, the greater the danger for the target. The hackers try to create a sense of urgency or necessity in the email content.

It is highly recommended you INSPECT EVERY URL. Also check sender address, email headers and spelling mistakes in every email content you receive.

2. SPEAR PHISHING

Spear fishing (or spear phishing) involves highly targeted, often personalized phishing attacks. Although this form of phishing shares similarities with deceptive phishing, this is an even more sophisticated attack variant.

Once again, the sender pretends to be from a known, reliable source. However, the attacks look a bit more believable in this case.

By the way, such attackers often disguise themselves as employees or a business partner. In addition, they gather information in advance on social media platforms about the target person or organization.

A useful countermeasure is employee training that creates awareness about phishing attacks.

3. WHALING

In other words, the aim here is to catch a “big fish”. CEOs in particular are the focus of this phishing variant.

The first phase is again to bait the affected executive. Once this has been achieved, the second phase of the attack is the CEO fraud. The term “business email compromise” (BEC) is also used for this.

Here, the hacker gains access to the personal e-mail account of a CEO. He pretends to be the CEO or senior Officer  and is thus able to request information and make transactions via the stolen e-mail account.

This allows the scammer to authorize wire transfers or monitor financial transactions. Whaling is particularly lucrative for scammers because executives are typically assigned the most access and approval rights.

What is a Phishing site?

A phishing site is any site designed with malicious intentions to deceive or lure an Internet user into providing sensitive information. A Phishing site can be clone of an original site or it is designed from scratch with malicious intentions.

The most commonly cloned sites are banks, email services and social networking sites.

What is a Phishing email?

A phishing email is an email that disguises as a real email  but either asks you to click on links to phishing sites or asks you to download one of the attached files. The main problem with such emails is that they may be so well-designed that even an experienced user might think they are real.

How do I protect myself from phishing?

To avoid becoming a victim of Hackers, it’s important to be cautious about emails that request confidential information. Don’t give in to emotional pressure.

Here are some tips to help you protect yourself from phishing:

1. No site will ask you for your password or username.  Any email asking you for your logins is suspicious and fake. Let this be the first red flag.

2. Never click on Links and files from unverified sources. Whoever it is, the files should be re-verified by an anti-virus, links are better opened through browsers where you do not have any passwords or data saved.

3. If your email requires you to follow a link to your personal profile, it’s best not to use links, but to open the sites yourself. For example, if your email says that you need to go to a Facebook for some action, then don’t use the link from the email, but go to Facebook.com directly.

4. Install Antivirus. An antivirus will scan links in your browsers and can detect/block a phishing site.  Fake sites are automatically recognized and blocked. It can also check the authenticity of websites. The best Antivirus for this job is Kaspersky Antivirus.

5. Use disposable mail for tests. If you want to test a service (especially a little-known one) the best solution is to use disposable e-mail.

6. Carefully study the information in the Email header. You should never enter information on forms contained in emails.

7. Hover your mouse over the links and check the addresses. The fact that the real link and its name may be different. However, if you hover your mouse cursor over the link, the real address of the link will show up in the bottom of your browser. This will help you check if the site address is the same as the one in the link.

8. Always remember common sense. The creativity of phishing can vary, so common sense is always helpful. For example, if you get emails from a site you’ve never even heard of, it’s hardly worth opening such addresses.

9. Beware of Generic Salutation. Emails from scammers do not address you specifically by name. The messages may begin with the phrase “Dear” or just, “Hello”. Banks most often use personal information in their e-mails and messages.

Conclusion

Don’t be lured in. Phishing attacks are far from dead. They’re just getting more sophisticated. If you follow the guide in this article, you will quickly detect a phishing site and take precautions.

Please share this article to increase the awareness on Phishing.

Saint Yome

Saint Yome

Cyber Security Researcher and Consultant. Founder and CEO of Futtress Lab Ltd