What is phishing?
Phishing is a type of cyberattack in which attackers use deceptive tactics to trick individuals into divulging sensitive and confidential information, such as login credentials, financial information, or personal details. These attacks typically involve impersonating a trustworthy entity or organization, such as a bank, government agency, or well-known company, to gain the victim’s trust.
Here’s how a typical phishing attack works:
- Email or Message: The attacker sends a fraudulent email, text message, or instant message to the target, posing as a legitimate entity. They often use logos, branding, and language that mimic the real organization to make the message seem convincing.
- Deceptive Content: The message usually contains a sense of urgency or a convincing reason for the recipient to take immediate action. This could involve verifying an account, updating personal information, or claiming a prize.
- Malicious Links or Attachments: Phishing emails often include links to fake websites that closely resemble legitimate ones or may contain malicious attachments. Clicking on these links or opening attachments can lead to malware infection or direct the victim to a phishing website.
- Information Request: The victim is asked to provide sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or bank account details. This information is then captured by the attacker.
- Data Theft: Once the victim submits their information, the attacker can use it for various malicious purposes, such as identity theft, unauthorized financial transactions, or further targeted attacks.
Phishing attacks can also take the form of spear-phishing, where the attacker customizes the message to target a specific individual or organization, and vishing (voice phishing), where attackers use phone calls to deceive victims. Additionally, there’s smishing, which involves phishing through SMS or text messages.