The process in which a criminal impersonates a known entity or individual through an email and asks the users to download software or open a link, thereby gaining access to personal and confidential information is known as a phishing attack.
The emails appear genuine, causing the users to believe them and fall prey to phishing attacks. Though there are many software filters that scan and detect suspicious emails, phishing attacks have only increased in the past few years. The FBI has stated that $12 billion have been lost to phishing attacks in the last five years. The phishing emails have more than doubled in number.
Attackers are sending millions of emails each day targeting various users and employees from different organizations. No business is safe from a phishing attack. From a small startup enterprise to a government agency or a global organization, every business is prone to phishing attacks. In fact, industry giants like Facebook and Google themselves have been victims of phishing.
The organizations were paying attackers monthly installments thinking they were genuine vendors. They ended up losing millions of dollars by the time the truth was out. If such well-renowned enterprises could be successfully duped by the attackers, imagine how important it is for other businesses to be alert and take all preventive measures from becoming a victim of a phishing attack.
Before we Know How To Block Phishing Emails, let us take a look at the types of phishing attacks used by the attackers to dupe employees and enterprises. It might appear that most types of attacks are similar. In a way, they are. The basic procedure is the same. Yet, the attacks have been classified to show the various ways in which we could be duped by phishing emails.
- Whaling Attacks
- The attacker impersonates a C-level executive or a higher-ranked employee and interacts with other employees. After gaining the trust of the employees, the attacker will ask them to download and try new software or share confidential information. Once the employees believe and do as suggested, the attackers gain access to the system of the enterprise.
- Spear Phishing
- Every individual who uses an email is at the risk of being duped by spear phishing. The attackers pose as a trusted person to steal information and use it for personal gains. It is one of the most common phishing attacks in the industry.
- Brand Forgery
- As the name suggests, the attackers send emails in the name of a famous brand. Fake logos and URLs are created and malicious software is hidden in the email. When a user opens the email and clicks on an image or a link, the software enters the system, providing attackers access to confidential information.
- CEO Fraud
- The attackers impersonate the CEO of a top official of the enterprise to send emails ordering a fund transfer. The domain name of the email will be almost entirely similar to the domain name of the business. Many times, even the email security system fails to recognize the difference and alert the employees.
- Domain Spoofing
- Domain spoofing is difficult to detect. Only a powerful anti phishing software can see the minute changes made to the domain names to pass the phishing email as a genuine one.
- Zero Day Attack
- It is the latest method being used by attackers to dupe employees. The traditional software solutions use the signature of a URL to decide if it is genuine or fake. The signature is compared to the ones existing in the database. But, when attackers are creating thousands of new websites each day and it takes around 24-48 hours to identify and release the signature of a new URL, the risk of being duped multiplies ten-fold.
- Malware and Ransomware
- An infected email attachment could destroy the entire system of the enterprise. Once malware enters the system, it paves a way for the attackers to slowly gain control and take over the system, locking employees out of it. The attackers then demand money (ransom) to release the system back to the enterprise.
- Business Email Compromise (BEC)
- A thriving and growing scam in the industry, BEC is being actively tracked by the FBI. The attack starts with a simple phishing email claiming to be a high-level employee. Once the attackers gain access to confidential information, they make changes to the database and divert the money to their accounts.
The latest anti phishing software uses artificial intelligence such as computer vision technology and machine learning algorithm to create behavior patterns. The software detects and blocks all kinds of phishing attacks and works on any device. Users can report the emails with a single click. The software works irrespective of the location of the users.