Deceptive phishing, the most prevalent form of phishing attack, involves attackers employing social engineering tactics to trick their targets. In these instances, the phisher may craft convincing narratives, such as a fabricated account update or a security enhancement, or employ technical strategies, including authentic trademarks, images, and logos, to entice the unsuspecting victim. The victim, convinced of the email’s authenticity, is lured into clicking the provided link. This action, unfortunately, results in the victim unwittingly revealing their personal information to the phisher.
Is Deceptive Phishing the Same as Phishing?
While deceptive phishing is a form of phishing, it’s not the same as all phishing attacks. Phishing is a broader term encompassing various types of attacks, including deceptive phishing, spear phishing, and whaling. Deceptive phishing specifically refers to attacks where the attacker impersonates a legitimate organization or person to trick the victim into revealing sensitive information.
Example of a Deceptive Phishing Attack
There are many telltale signs of deceptive phishing. Below is one example.
Picture this: you get an email from Amazon, a platform you regularly use for online shopping. The email appears authentic, complete with the company logo and a tone that mirrors previous emails you’ve received from them. It presents an irresistible deal on a laptop, along with a link to the purchase page. Without a second thought, you click the link, input your credit card details, and finalize your order. But here’s the catch – you’ve just fallen prey to a phishing scam. The product page, despite its convincing facade, was a sham. Instead of processing your order, the site funneled your payment information directly to a cybercriminal.
Recognizing the Scam
In this case, we have 3 items related to this fake email that stand out:
- Your payment method should be stored once you log into your Amazon account to make the purchase. Amazon only requires you to re-enter the number if you purchase a gift card or ship the item to someone else.
- If you look closely at the original email, it likely came from a spin-off domain with typos, extra extensions, and other things that demonstrate Amazon wasn’t the sender. For example, an email that’s anything other than @amazon.com.
- Another sign would be the lack of links on the actual product page. Amazon is loaded with products, pages, and other content. Even if the phishers tried to make it seem legitimate, there would be no way for them to replicate that.
How to Protect from Phishing Attacks
Phishing is a serious issue every online user must address. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your business from a phishing attack:
- Educate yourself: Recognizing the existence of a problem is the initial stride towards combating it. Unmindful browsing on the internet can expose you to the risks of phishing attacks. Build good browsing habits, such as double-checking every link, never downloading unknown and untrusted attachments, always using different passwords for different accounts, changing passwords regularly, and ignoring requests for file transfers, account transfers, or divulged passwords, even if they come from within the company. Verify all of the requests verbally before complying.
- Use Software to Defend Your Devices Against Phishing: When configured correctly, your computer can protect itself. As a basic checklist, ensure that you have the following installed on every client machine: Email spam filters, especially ones that look for suspicious links and unverified attachments; Powerful antivirus solutions with security updates; Web filters to block out malicious websites (usually these are built-in to antivirus programs); Anti-phishing toolbars and browser extensions that display the reputation of a website before you click the link; A firewall (many antivirus programs come with a built-in firewall); Pop-up blockers; An up-to-date web browser supporting all the modern security features.
Other Miscellaneous Tips
Disable HTML emails if possible. Text-only emails cannot launch malware directly. Encrypt your company’s sensitive data and communications. Check your bank account’s activity routinely for suspicious charges.
Deceptive phishing is a significant threat in the digital world. It’s a common email phishing scam where scammers impersonate a real organization to steal the victim’s personal details or account credentials. Deceptive phishing employs various techniques, such as modifying brand logos, incorporating legitimate URLs, and disguising malicious code in clean code. By being aware of these tactics and taking the necessary precautions, you can protect yourself and your business from falling victim to these attacks.