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Phishing, Vishing, and Pharming – What They Are and How to Avoid Them?

Cyber thieves are honing their cybertheft skills to defeat cutting-edge technology and innovative security systems and wreak havoc in the cyber world. Both phishing and pharming, two major types of cyber attacks, are notorious for tricking users into providing personal information. Cybercriminals use both of these tactics to obtain sensitive information from users, but they work in different ways. Let us proceed to find out how.

Many fraudsters commit these two types of cyber attacks by impersonating anyone, whether it is a health or technical representative or a government official. According to ChannelLife, phishing attacks will increase by 75% in 2020. According to IBM, one out of every five businesses experienced a malicious data breach in the same year.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is one of the most common types of Internet fraud at the moment. It is a method of obtaining secret information by an attacker who employs well-known social engineering techniques to force users to open their data themselves. This can be a bank card number and code, a phone number, a login, a password, or an email address from a service. Phishing is mostly used to gain access to users’ online banking accounts or e-wallets, with the possibility of withdrawing funds to the fraudster’s account.

So, how exactly does phishing work? A user receives a phishing message in his mailbox, which, first and foremost, affects his emotions. This could be a notification about a big win or, on the other hand, a notification about account hacking with the suggestion to follow a phishing link and enter the authorization data. A user visits the provided resource and ‘gives away’ his login and password to the fraudster, who quickly acts on the information received.

How do avoid Phishing Attacks?

Phishing scams can be more than a nuisance. Undoing the financial damage and repairing your credit rating can take a long time and a lot of effort, so avoiding the problem entirely is worth a little time upfront. Here are some ways to avoid a phishing scam:

  • Install Antivirus Software on Employee Computers – Antivirus software scans every file that arrives on your computer via the Internet. It aids in the prevention of system damage.
  • Use business-specific antivirus software – While standard antivirus software is great for private citizens, there are also business-specific antivirus products that a system administrator can install and maintain to help prevent phishing emails on your corporate email system.
  • Never open an attachment from an unknown sender in an email.
  • Never click on a link in an unsolicited email.
  • Check your online accounts regularly to ensure that no unauthorized transactions have occurred.
  • Regularly change your passwords.
  • Pop-Ups should be avoided because they are used by many legitimate websites. If a pop-up contains only text, it may be OK; however, if it asks for information or contains links, do not provide any information or click a link or button; instead, close the link and click the small “x” in the upper right corner of the window.
  • Never give out personal information to strangers over the Internet.

What is Vishing?

Vishing, also known as voice phishing, is a type of phishing attack that uses a phone to trick victims into providing sensitive information rather than an email. In a vishing attack, the bad actor calls their target and uses social engineering techniques to trick them into disclosing credentials or financial information. Invoking a deadline or time limit to create a sense of urgency, or impersonating someone in authority to make the user feel as if they have no choice but to hand over information, are common tactics.

To avoid detection, attackers frequently use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) features such as caller ID spoofing to disguise their true identities. This means that, unlike an email phishing attempt, where you can check the sender’s email address and domain, you can only verify a vishing attempt based on what the person is saying and the familiarity of their voice.

How to avoid Vishing Attacks?

It is relatively simple to avoid becoming a vishing victim. Many people ignore or block calls from numbers they don’t recognize. Even if the caller does not leave a message, vishing is still a possibility. A legitimate caller will usually leave a detailed voicemail explaining why they called. Scammers, on the other hand, will intentionally make their voice muddy or garbled but will emphasize phrases like “lock your account” and provide a phone number.

Don’t call if you don’t recognize the person who left the message or the phone number they asked you to call. A variety of websites collect information on phone scams. If the call is a scam, you can often Google the phone number and discover that many others have got calls from the same number. Never, ever give information by phone to an individual who calls you first!

What is Pharming?

Fraudsters recognize that traditional phishing will become less effective shortly. Many users are already aware of the dangers they may face when using various resources and following the security rules. As a result, a completely new type of fraud known as pharming was invented. Its main idea is to secretly redirect users to third-party websites.

So, how exactly does pharming work? The main feature of pharming is the subtle substitution of the legitimate website for the fraudulent, allowing an attacker to obtain the confidential user’s data. All of this is accomplished through the use of the DNS cache on the end user’s device or the provider’s network equipment. Following the exchange, the attacker should only wait until the client authorizes access to a specific resource.

How to avoid Pharming attacks?

There are certain ways by which you can avoid being a pharming attack victim:

  • Use reputable antivirus and anti-malware security software at all times.
  • On sites that support it, enable two-factor authentication.
  • On consumer-grade routers and wireless access points, change the default password.
  • In the business world, pharming necessitates extensive employee training. In contrast to phishing, pharming can infiltrate computers without the user’s knowledge. As a result, your system administrator must be up to date on the latest methods of system breaches and how to prevent them. It’s a massive task, but knowledge of system security is a requirement, not a luxury.

You’re one step closer to protecting your organization from phishing attacks now that you’ve read this article. But you’re still not there.

Combating sophisticated social engineering attempts is best accomplished by implementing a multi-layered security architecture that includes both technical and human-centric solutions – i.e., combining artificial and human intelligence.

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