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How does phishing email work? Learn about it and how to stay safe


Phishing refers to a method of tricking you into sharing passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information. This method of cyber-attack usually works by sending an email to a person pretending to represent a trustworthy institution. We can also see this method in text messages or phone calls.

In this article, we will focus on some general concepts about phishing. We will also try throughout this article to advise you on security methods that you can use to stay alert and secure in your company or even in your home.

  1. What do we mean by the word phishing?
  2. How does phishing work for cyber-attacks?
  3. What types of phishing attacks exist?
  4. How to identify a phishing attack?
  5. How to protect yourself from phishing?
  6. What can we offer you at Connect Tech to keep you safe?

1. What do we mean by the word phishing?

Phishing is the criminal act of fooling people into divulging sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and passwords. As with fishing, there is more than one way to trap a victim, but one phishing tactic is the most common. Victims receive an email or text message that mimics a trusted person or organization, such as a co-worker, bank, or government office.

Once the victim has opened the email or text message, they encounter a message designed to scare them, with the purpose of undermining their judgment by instilling fear. The warning message requires the victim to go to a website and act immediately or face some kind of consequence. Cyber security assessment to exploit weaknesses and obtain as much information as possible.

If a visitor clicks on the link and takes the bait, he or she is redirected to a website that is an attempt to imitate the legitimate one. At this point, you are invited to log in with your username and password credentials. If you are overly trusting enough and do so, the access data gets to the attacker. Who uses it to rob people’ identities, loot their bank accounts and sell their personal data on the black market.


1.2 Why is phishing so popular and effective for cyber-attacks?

Unlike other types of Internet threats, phishing does not require particularly sophisticated technical knowledge. In fact, Adam Kujawa, head of Malwarebytes Labs, says, “Phishing is the simplest form of cyberattack and, at the same time, the most powerful and dangerous. That’s because it attacks the most vulnerable and powerful computer on the planet: the human mind.”

Phishers are not trying to exploit a technical vulnerability in your device’s operating system, they are using “social engineering”. From Windows and iPhones to Macs and Androids, no operating system is completely safe from phishing, regardless of how robust its security is.

Attackers often resort to phishing because they cannot find any technical vulnerabilities – why waste time trying to circumvent layers of security when you can trick someone into handing over the key? In most cases, the weakest link in a security system is not a hidden flaw in the computer code. But a person who fails to check the provenance of a phishing email.

2. How does phishing work for cyber-attacks?

Phishing is a method that cybercriminals use to trick and trick people into revealing personal information such as passwords, credit card or social security information, bank account numbers, and more. They obtain this information by sending fraudulent emails or directing the person to a fake website. For example a cyber security firm.

The attack works like this: the email contains some convincing or threatening content, which generates some doubt in the user and makes him open a file or fill out a form. Imagine the embarrassment of paying with your card and finding out that your money has been stolen. This situation is experienced daily by many people in the world. Clicking on an “innocent” link and all their information is stolen.

The most common scam nowadays is by e-mail. However, information can also be obtained through social networks. So we should be cautious of what we post. People fall victim to phishing out of ignorance, fear, and even curiosity.

2.1 Why is it so easy to deceive people with this method?

Phishing consists of launching an attack. sending mass e-mails containing false information. Once some users “catch the bait”, the cyber criminals obtain the information through fraudulent links, gain access to the cyber network security and the victim’s accounts and can supplant their identity or generate economic losses.

In the first case, the user is not sure that something can happen to his computer just by clicking on a link. He thinks that nothing is happening when in fact it may be. Since by clicking on a link without thinking on his computer he could be installing malware, that is to say, a malicious program that could cause damage.

A user can also become a victim of phishing out of fear when the victim receives warning messages which reads threatening phrases. Out of fear that the threat will be carried out, the user clicks on the link and at that moment is susceptible to having his personal information stolen.

Finally, a user may fall victim to this type of fraud out of curiosity. Simply to find out what might happen if a link is clicked. Here is the importance of knowing about information technology security.

3. What types of phishing attacks exist?

Despite their many varieties, the common denominator of all phishing attacks remains the use of a fraudulent pretext to acquire valuable data. For example, let us start with spear phishing. While most phishing campaigns send mass emails to as many people as possible, spear phishing involves a targeted attack.

Spear phishing targets a specific person or organization, often with content customized for the victim(s). It requires pre-attack reconnaissance to discover names, job titles, email addresses, and the like. Hackers search the Internet to match this information with what they have found out about the target’s professional colleagues.

With this, the phisher creates a credible email based on cyber security consulting services. For example, a scammer could create a spear-phishing attack on an employee whose responsibilities include the capability to authorize payments. The email seems to come from an executive in the company’s organization. Demanding that the employee remit a substantial payment to the company’s executive or a supplier.

Cloning phishing: In this attack, criminals make a copy of, or clone, previously sent legitimate emails containing a link or attachment. The phisher then substitutes attachments or links with malicious content that looks like genuine content. Unaware users click on the link or open the attachment, which often allows them to gain control of their systems.

3.1 What other types of phishing attacks are there?

There also exists the Nigerian/419 scam. An extensive phishing email from someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince is one of the oldest scams on the Internet. The email marks itself as ‘urgent’ or ‘private’. The number “419” stands associated with this scam. It refers to the section of the Nigerian criminal code that deals with fraud, charges, and penalties for offenders.

Phone phishing: With phishing attempts over the phone, sometimes called voice phishing or “vishing”. The phisher calls claiming to represent your local bank, the police, or even the Internal Revenue Service. Then, they scare you with some sort of problem and will insist that you fix it straight away by providing your account information or paying a fine.

They usually ask you to pay with a bank transfer or prepaid cards, because they are untraceable. Phishing via SMS, or “smishing,” refers to the evil twin of vishing. Which performs the same type of scam (sometimes with an embedded malicious link to click on) via SMS text message.

4. How to identify a phishing attack?

Recognizing a phishing attempt is not always easy, but a few tips, a little discipline, cybersecurity fundamentals, and some common sense can go a long way. Look for something that looks odd or unusual. Ask yourself if the message arouses any suspicions. Trust your intuition, you don’t have to be a cybersecurity professional, and don’t panic. Phishing attacks often use fear to cloud your reasoning.

Some signs of a phishing attempt start when the email makes an offer that seems too good to be true. It might say you’ve won the lottery, an expensive prize, or something else of very high value. You recognize the sender, but it is someone you don’t deal with. Even if you know the sender’s name, be suspicious if it’s someone you don’t normally communicate with.

The same goes if it appears in a copy in an email to people you don’t even know. Or perhaps a group of colleagues in departments with whom you have no relationship. The message sounds scary. Beware of the email has alarmist language to create a sense of urgency, urging you to click and “act now” before your account gets deleted. The message contains unexpected or strange attachments. Such attachments may include malware, ransomware or other online security threats.

The email includes links that look a little strange. Even if you don not get a tingle from any of the above, do not assume that the hyperlinks included lead where it seems. Instead, hover over the link to see the actual URL. Look out especially for subtle misspellings on a familiar website, because it indicates a forgery. It is always better to type the URL directly rather than click on the embedded link.

5. How to protect yourself from phishing?

As previously stated, phishing is an “equal opportunity” threat, capable of appearing on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Most Internet browsers have ways to check if a link is safe, but the first line of defense against phishing involves your good judgment. Learn to recognize the signs of phishing and try to practice safe computing whenever you check your email, read Facebook posts, or play your favorite online game.

The most important practices for staying safe rely on not opening emails from unfamiliar senders. Don’t click on a link within an email unless you know exactly where it takes you. To apply that layer of protection, if you receive an email from a source you are unsure of, manually navigate to the link provided by typing the legitimate website address into your browser.

Look for the web site’s digital certificate. If you get asked to provide sensitive information, check that the URL of the page begins with “HTTPS” instead of simply “HTTP”. The “S” stands for “secure.” It makes no guarantee that a site is legitimate, but most legitimate sites use HTTPS because it is more secure. HTTP websites, even legitimate ones, remain open to hackers.

If you suspect an email is not legitimate, select a name or part of the message text and take it to a search engine to see if any known phishing attacks use the same methods. Hover your mouse cursor over the link to see if it is legitimate. As always, we recommend using some anti-malware security software from a good cybersecurity services company.

6. What can we offer you at Connect Tech to keep you safe?

All Connect Tech‘s computer security products provide solid protection against phishing. They can detect fraudulent sites and prevent you from opening them, even if you believe they are legitimate. In addition, as mentioned above, we recommend the use of anti-malware to protect yourself in case you get caught in a phishing email.

On the other hand, if you are interested in developing sofware for your own business, you can count on our software development services. There is so much you can find in our agency! Find out more about what we offer.

We hope that all the information shown here will be useful to you and your company in case you have one. On Connect Tech we are always available to advise you on anything to do with cybersecurity. To contact us just call us at +971 43 316 688 or leave us a message at our email address: CONTACT@CONNECTECH.DEV.

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