Phishing scams are on the rise - learn to protect yourself


Phishing is a tactic used by cybercriminals to trick individuals into giving away sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial information. Phishing scams have been around for decades and have evolved over time. Initially, phishing attacks were carried out through simple email messages that contained a link to a fraudulent website. These emails were easy to spot due to poor grammar and design and were often sent to a large number of people in the hope that a few would fall for the scam.

As technology has progressed, so have the tactics used in phishing scams, making them more challenging to detect. Cybercriminals use advanced social engineering, spear-phishing, and whaling techniques to target individuals or organizations. They also use sophisticated methods to replicate legitimate websites and emails. In addition, cybercriminals can now harvest information from victims through various means such as keylogging, screen scraping, and browser extension or phone malware. They can also use the information gathered to create convincing phishing emails and websites tailored to the victim's interests and habits.

  • Social engineering: Social engineering is a way of tricking people into giving away sensitive information. It uses deception to gain access to information, systems, or networks. This technique can be done through various means such as social media, phone, email, or in-person communication.
  • Spear-phishing: Spear-phishing is a social engineering attack targeting a particular individual or group. It is an email or electronic communications scam targeted toward a specific individual, organization, or business. Unlike general phishing, which tends to send out a large number of people with the hope of tricking anyone, spear-phishing is more personalized and tailored to the specific target. The attacker typically researches their target and uses personal information to make the scam more convincing. The goal of spear-phishing is to trick the target into giving away sensitive information such as login credentials, financial information, or personal data.
  • Whaling techniques: Whaling is a spear-phishing attack targeting high-profile individuals or executives within an organization. The term "whale" describes the targeted individual because these individuals are seen as valuable and high-value targets. These attacks are typically more sophisticated and well-researched than traditional spear-phishing attacks and often use tactics such as impersonating a high-level executive or authority figure. Whaling aims to access sensitive information, steal money, or install malware on a targeted system.

With the rise of social media and messaging apps

Cybercriminals have also begun to use these platforms to carry out phishing attacks. They send messages to individuals with links to fraudulent websites or ask for personal information.

One way to spot a phishing attempt is to look for emails or texts from unknown senders asking for personal information or money. These emails may contain urgent language, such as "Your account has been compromised" or "You have won a prize," to pressure the recipient into taking immediate action.

An example of a phishing scam is an email that appears to be from a bank asking the recipient to log in to their account to update personal information. The email includes a link to a fake website that looks just like the bank's actual website. When the recipient enters their login information, it is sent to the cybercriminals, who can then use it to access the account.

Emails that ask for money, your password, or other personal information are red flags. Look for misspelled words, branding that looks inauthentic, or clumsy mistakes. Hover your mouse over a link to see if it's sending you elsewhere. 

To protect yourself from phishing:

  1. Be skeptical of unsolicited emails and texts.
  2. Be cautious of clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.
  3. Keep software and security systems up to date.

You can also use a spam filter to block unwanted emails and try to use a password manager to keep your passwords safe.

In summary, Phishing scams have been around for decades, but as technology has advanced, so have the tactics used in phishing scams. They are becoming more complex and sophisticated, making them harder to detect and more likely to be successful. Therefore, it is important to stay vigilant and protect yourself by being aware of the common tactics used in phishing scams and taking the necessary precautions.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide investment, legal, accounting, tax, or any other advice and should not be relied on in that or any other regard. The information contained herein is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of cryptocurrencies or otherwise.