What Exactly Is “Phishing”?

December 11, 2022
phishing email
“Your password has been invalid for too long. Simply make the necessary edits by clicking here. To tell the truth, the vast majority of individuals wouldn’t give much thinking before clicking on the link. Because we frequently receive emails similar to this, we virtually always visit the links contained inside them. Because of this, phishing assaults are extremely successful and potentially harmful.

Phishing is a type of online con job that involves sending out bogus messages or creating fake websites, as well as engaging in social engineering, in order to defraud individuals or companies of their personal or financial information. It mostly depends on the routines and feelings of individuals, which might impair their judgment. Phishing is one of the most common types of cyberattacks, despite the fact that it has been there since the early days of the internet. In fact, 32% of all data breaches that occurred in 2017 were the result of phishing.

Phishing is the most common method that attackers employ to get financial information. To get someone to send money to your account, all you need to do is fool them into doing it. On the other hand, some hackers would make use of malware in order to obtain further information on a person or company that can then be sold online. Phishing scams generally take the form of emails these days. Some are carried out with such skill and attention to detail that it may be difficult to determine whether or not they are authentic.

Phishing Attacks

Check watch our movie on YouTube, where we explain how phishing attacks are carried out, for further details:

How to Recognize and Avoid a Phishing Attack

  1. It is strongly suggested that you take some action. The vast majority of phishing attempts use people’s concern that they will be left out to coerce them into making bad choices. It’s possible that a devoted customer of a business may click on a link in an email or text message without first checking to see whether the message was genuine if it offered a tempting discount that was only valid for a limited period.
  2. It is attempting to terrify you. Messages that are intended to prey on people’s fears typically read as follows: “someone tried to enter into your account,” “your password was changed,” or “your account will soon be canceled due to suspicious activities.” Because you need to respond as soon as possible, the link to the service has been provided for your convenience. Due to the frequency of these occurrences, a great number of individuals will not give it a second thought before clicking the link to safeguard their account.
  3. There are further items attached. Because there is no compelling incentive for them to do so, businesses almost never distribute newsletters, alert emails, or other messages that include attachments. You put yourself at danger of contracting malware if you ever download and open one of these files.
  4. It does not appear to have originated from the sender that was specified. If that specific provider has never contacted you in the past with warnings on changed passwords or provided you exceptional offers that appear to be too good to be true, then it is quite probable that it is not them who is contacting you now.
  5. It just looks horrible. Check to see if there are any grammatical errors, typefaces that are weird and/or varied throughout the text, a fuzzy logo or no logo at all, and random instances of all capitals. Does something about the message’s general tone feel odd to you? All of these signs point to the possibility of a phishing scam.

There are many distinct forms of phishing

Targeted phishing

Spear phishing refers to phishing assaults that are designed to target a particular person and are tailored to meet their unique needs. The perpetrator of the phishing assault will conduct research on their intended victim before sending out the email. This includes information from their public accounts, data breaches they could have been a part of, and whatever else the hacker can find out about the person they work for or the firm they work for. With all of this information, the cybercriminal is able to pose as a reliable person, such as a coworker, an old acquaintance, or a representative of a prominent service that the victim frequently uses.


Whaling is an additional type of spear phishing in which the attacker pretends to be a high-ranking official of a firm, such as the chief executive officer, a member of the board of directors, or a prominent shareholder. Because they are more difficult to imitate, the cybercriminal needs to put in a lot more effort to ensure that they are convincing. On the other hand, senior members often have a bigger influence inside the organization, which typically results in greater benefits. Their workers are allowed to move payments or disclose private information without being questioned too thoroughly.

Phishing using clones

In order for this form of phishing to be successful, the attacker requires some method through which they can closely monitor their victim’s email inbox. They create a copy using an email that was received not too long ago, ideally one that has a link or an attachment. The majority of it is preserved in its original form, but either the attachment is infected with malware or the link leads to a phony website.

The new email will make the claim that it contains information that has been updated. For instance, if there was an invoice attached to the initial document, the adversary may alter the data so that the money transfer is transferred to them rather than the intended recipient. After then, they will either generate a new email address that is extremely similar to the original or fake the sender’s address in order to send spam. A person who gets a lot of emails that are remarkably similar every single day probably won’t give it a second thought before downloading the file and completing the payment.

To engage in smishing and vishing

A significant number of phishing assaults are also carried out through phone: Smishing refers to phishing that is based on SMS, while vishing, often known as voice phishing, includes phone calls.

Smishing requires the victim to click on links that take them to bogus websites. Hackers utilized the victims’ genuine first names in a recent FedEx/Amazon phishing scam, in which they informed the victims that they needed to adjust delivery choices for their FedEx goods and used the victims’ real identities. It is fairly common for people to receive texts that are very similar to this, especially around the holiday season, so at first look it might not seem strange to you. If you followed the link, you would eventually be sent to a page that pretended to be Amazon but really wanted you to input your credit card information in order to receive a reward. Users who choose to do so were assessed a monthly fee of $98.95.

The process of vishing is a little bit different. It makes heavy use of social engineering, which involves fabricating unpleasant situations in order to motivate individuals into doing without first thinking. Attackers will frequently try to terrify their victims by making false accusations against them, such as stating that someone attempted to use their credit card or that they failed to pay a fine, among other things. Regrettably, they are frequently successful. When people allow their feelings to cloud their judgment, they make careless disclosures of personal information, including their online banking credentials and other sensitive data.


How you may guard yourself against being a victim of phishing

1.Use spam filters. Phishing emails may be avoided most effectively by preventing them from entering your inbox in the first place. By doing so, you will prevent yourself from inadvertently opening an email that contains harmful links or attachments.

2.Install a filter on your web browser. The effectiveness of spam filters is inconsistent, and phishing scams continue to advance in complexity on a daily basis. Even seasoned internet users are susceptible to falling for social engineering tactics that lead them to click on dangerous links. In such a scenario, a feature such as FreeZone VPN‘s Threat Protection was developed expressly for the purpose of addressing such concerns. When you attempt to visit a website, Threat Protection will search through a database to see whether it is on a list of known harmful websites. If it is there, a warning message will be sent and it will not link you to it.

3.Acquire the ability to recognize it. You can quickly learn to recognize phishing emails with only a little bit of effort on your part. It’s important to pay attention to the tiniest details; for example, if your boss typically signs their emails with “Thanks!” but suddenly wrote “Advisable wishes” out of the blue, it’s best to check with them again. When it comes to protecting firm secrets and significant quantities of money, there is no such thing as being too cautious.

4.To input web addresses manually, click here. There have been a lot of reports of customers getting an email that says, “Someone tried to get into your account.” It is a common method of frightening people, despite the fact that it is completely feasible that anything of the such actually took place. If you are unsure as to whether or not the email can be trusted, refrain from clicking on anything that it contains. Instead, start a new tab or window and navigate to the website in issue to see whether or not something significant has in fact transpired.

5.Make sure you check the webpage frequently. When a shortened URL is shown in the context of smishing, it might be difficult to determine whether or not the URL is authentic. In the event that you are compelled to click on the link, ensure that you do not download any files, click on any links, or enter any personal information before doing a thorough investigation of the website it directs you to. Does it have a TLS certificate that is still valid? Always look for “https” at the beginning of a website’s URL and a little padlock icon next to it to ensure that the website is secure. A big website should not be able to run correctly without it. Are there any words that have been misspelled? Is the website’s voice and tone, as well as its color scheme and graphics, consistent with what you’ve come to expect from the brand? Leave the site immediately and make contact with the organization that was responsible for sending you the message in the event that you have the smallest bit of uncertainty.

6.Keep your calm no matter what happens. What would you do if a worried bank employee called you in the middle of the night to inform you that unusual activity had been discovered on your account? Tell them to put a stop to everything, and make it a priority to visit the bank as soon as you can. Under no circumstances should you ever reveal your usernames and passwords to another person over the phone or online. You received a notification that you had won a significant prize, right? That’s fantastic, but I’m curious whether you’ve participated in any raffles or lotteries in the recent past. In any high-stakes circumstance, maintaining composure and using common sense are going to be your most reliable allies.