Many people take the bait in phishing schemes whether through email or phone calls. This, unfortunately, leads to their bank accounts being compromised, their identities stolen, and falling prey to spending money on dubious raffles, contests, and many others.

Phishing is a common cybercrime that is carried out when victims reply or act from an urgent prompt sent through their email or text message. This includes encrypting programs, providing confidential information such as personal security numbers, and sending money.

Victims shouldn’t be blamed for falling prey to phishing claims. After all, usually, these schemes are presented in a sophisticated way that is inciting with its prizes or urgent prompts such as family members seeking help or for banks seeking one-time passwords because their accounts have been compromised.

Phishing doesn’t necessarily target only individuals; it also targets businesses, and this could lead to significant monetary damage and data breach.

The best thing we can do is to stop blaming victims and rather improve our knowledge in discerning phishing emails from legitimate ones. Below are the common types of phishing techniques that are distributed through multiple platforms.

  1. Spearing phishing method towards employees

This type of phishing method targets employees to carry out their malicious intent toward a company. Most of the hackers review the financial assets of certain companies and then carefully distribute curated illegitimate emails for the employees to respond to.

Phishing technique: These emails are personalized and incite the potential victims to send information and as usual, send money for make-believe requests tailored as if they were legitimate requests. These emails also include prompts about urgent disconnection, compromised bank accounts, and other urgent matters that would cause panic among employees that would lead them to click these dubious links. These links direct employees to a malicious website that inputs confidential information.

The risks in falling as a victim: Employees fall victim to this common phishing technique because the email address looks legitimate when read. Most phishing emails are not filtered as spam because hackers have already learned how to write emails that won’t contain spam content.

  1. Phishing by impersonating legitimate businesses

Being incited to click malicious links is also known as Smishing. Smishing is sent through text messages instead of emails with the same intent in luring the potential victim to click malicious links that lead them to a dubious website that poses as a legitimate business. An example of their scheme is that these dubious websites excite victims in gaining unexpected winning prizes in a raffle they’ve never even participated in.

Phishing technique: The malicious website asks for full names and other confidential information such as their bank accounts. Afterward, the victim’s bank accounts are compromised. Later, they will realize that there was an untraceable transaction with their bank accounts. If left unattended, the unauthorized transactions continue.

The risks in falling as a victim: Employees fall victim to this scheme if they don’t take the time to verify the website address. Most employees use numbers and bank accounts related to the company’s accounts. This provides the opportunity for hackers to penetrate through the company’s data.

  1. Phishing through social media 

Due to the popularity of social media platforms, hackers also utilize these platforms to lure victims. Just like phishing through text messages, social media phishing targets victims through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by urging them to click on malicious links.

Phishing technique: Victims are more likely to be incited because these hackers pose as legitimate identities of individuals or businesses. They use the same popular logo and tailor their page to an exact copy of the legitimate business. Their impersonation leads victims to trust them to provide their bank accounts and other personal information.

The risks in falling as a victim: Employees who are potential victims of social media phishing include those looking to collaborate with businesses. This leads to a data breach, deception, financial damage, etc.

  1. Phishing through targeting executives 

Aside from targeting employees, phishers also target executives. This technique is known as whaling. They target executives so they can gain a bigger reward. These rewards include access to exclusive financial statements and other significant data that they either hold for ransom or they sell to other interested parties.

Phishing technique: The hackers send emails to these executives which prompts them to act right away by clicking on the links since the consequences “seem too urgent” such as a “client” stating that the company will be sued.

The risks in falling as a victim: The real consequences include malware getting installed and unauthorized financial transactions by hackers.

  1. Pharming 

One of the most deceptive types of cybercrimes is pharming which is a combination of the words “phishing” and “farming.” Pharming redirects potential victims to a “fake website” that has the same credentials and interface as the legitimate one.

Phishing technique: They easily deceive the potential victim because of the domain name system (DNS) poisoning wherein the fake website’s domain name reads the same as the legitimate one. The fake website’s domain address contains some malicious characters but an untrained eye would not notice it right away.

The risks in falling as a victim: Employees who are potential victims to pharming provide an opportunity for hackers to access confidential information after the victims input their information in these fake websites including bank accounts and personal security numbers.

Don’t take the bait

Cybercriminals fish in a vast pool for a living, and if they’re lucky, they could capture a big fish. But just because you’ve swum close to inciting bait, it doesn’t mean that you must take it.

If employees are more conscious of dealing with these phishing schemes, you will potentially avoid an enormous amount of damage incurred from a mere click done out of innocent intent. No matter how sophisticated your cybersecurity software is, hackers will always find a crack to penetrate through and that crack might be through the employees. But knowledge is power, and empowered employees will be more careful.

To provide cybersecurity training to your employees, please reach out to Frank at [email protected] or (847) 894-6304.