The proliferation of the internet has led to some astounding developments in key areas of life. However, it’s also opened the door for many to scam those unaware of newfound and harmful digital scamming techniques. One of the most popular of these among scammers is phishing, wherein a victim clicks a link, usually sent by e-mail or voice message, and hands over personal information, such as social security or credit card numbers.
There are have thousands upon thousands of phishing scams launched in the last year and these attacks are estimated to have cost the public nearly sixty million dollars total. Scammers update their tactics often, but there are a few key similarities between many types of phishing attacks and scams.
Typically, phishing scams will be sent from sources that seem trustworthy and do a good job of posing as a legitimate company or source of information. This way, the scammers can trick you to clicking a link and leading you to a place to input your information. There are also a number of different types of phishing scams possible with new digital technologies.
Again, this is the most popular and widely known form of phishing, as most of the modern world communicates through e-mail and it’s not always easy to separate ordinary spam from truly dangerous phishing scams. The scammer sends an e-mail with fraudulent information in an attempt to steal valuable information from the victim.
Similar to e-mail phishing, malware phishing scammers ask victims to click a link, which in turn installs malware onto their device. This malware is designed to steal sensitive information right under the victim’s nose. Although e-mail phishing is more well known, malware phishing is actually more prevalent on a case-by-case basis.
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This sort of phishing consists of sending an attack to a well-researched and narrow target. It differs from many other forms of phishing because instead of trying to cast a “wide net” spear phishing aims to take down one source of information, usually owned by powerful entities such as business executives or other important people.
Search Engine Phishing
This type of phishing involves scammers setting up entire websites in an effort to receive personal information or force victims to send them direct payments. These websites are fraudulent and serve no other real purpose other than to scam the general population and increase the scammers’ revenue streams.
Shorthand for “voice phishing,” vishing is the same concept as most other phishing scams, but with the caveat that the scammer is using their voice to collect information. Often, vishing involves unknown numbers alerting victims to some sort of emergency, usually with the law. Recently, vishing has been an issue, as many scammers have claimed to be “NYPD law enforcement” in order to get victims to answer their requests and collect their personal information.
Much like search engine phishing, pharming involves fake websites. During the pharming process, sophisticated technology will take people from legitimate websites and redirect them to fake or fraudulent sites which exist solely to collect personal information. This process is often seamless and the user is unaware that they are not on the correct website.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself
Despite the prevalence and severity of phishing scams, there are several steps ordinary people can take to protect themselves. Firstly, you can download security software from a number of sites, as long as you’re sure that the sites and software are reputable. You can also protect your mobile device by installing software which will update automatically. Third, you can protect important accounts by using “two step verification” which involves the owner of the account calling or texting your mobile device to ensure you’re truly the one who’s requesting access to the account. Finally, you can protect all of your data by backing it up. Simply ensure that your back ups are not connected to your home network and are stored in a safe and secure location.