Six Phishing Tactics you Should Recognize

Scams exist. That is a simple truth. There are honest people, and then there are others who try to cheat. Email and the technology age facilitate scamming through email. Often these emails promise jobs or an irresistible offer, but sometimes they are more subtle than that. This article analyzes the types of email phishing traipsing around the World Wide Web so that, armed with the knowledge of email phishing attacks, you can avoid them in the future.

Phishing Tactic 1 – Irresistible Offer

Here is the ultimate dream held by many Americans: Get rich quick. It just doesn’t work. The ads that are frequently displayed online or the spam messages sent to people every day offer ways to get rich quick, have free money, receive free gifts or services, or meet someone beautiful and sexy. The scammers want to take your money, not give it to you and that beautiful woman you see in the picture might not even be a woman.

Phishing Tactic 2 – Money Mule

The money mule scam offers you the opportunity to make lots of money by transferring cash. It appears somewhat legitimate but it is actually illegal and you will be the one the evidence points to. You may see an advertisement for a financial position where you move money around from home and make a lot of cash. You are actually transferring stolen money or money laundering.

Phishing Tactic 3 – Pyramid schemes

Follow this formula with several people and they will all send you money after you send money to me and other more complex variations of this. You get money if enough of the people you send the message to end up sending money and also participating. Eventually, the system runs out and someone loses. Other times you participate in a service that requires little but promises much. What you actually get, if anything, is far different from what is promised because the only ones that make out of the deal are those who first started. When it is time for you to get paid, there is nothing left in the pot.

Phishing Tactic 4 – Stolen Goods Mule

Similar to the money mule but goods are transferred instead of money. These services typically offer themselves as a shipping consultant and your job will be to receive packages and then ship them to another location. Criminals purchase goods using stolen credit cards and then sell the items on eBay. You receive the stolen goods and sent the merchandise off. Unfortunately, when the fraudulent charges are noticed, the address they shipped to is the one the police will go to.

Phishing Tactic 5 – Spear Phishing

Spear phishing messages provide you with a link to what appears to be the site, and they ask you to log in or to update your password. Spear phishing messages are crafted to appear to come from some service that is legitimate or from a person the target knows, but spear phishing messages are just copies or fakes.

Phishing Tactic 6 – Whale Phishing

Whale Phishing is a specific attack against an individual with wealth or access to valuable assets or information. High-value targets used to be called the big fish so in this case, the big fish is a whale. Whale phishing may use some of the same tactics used for spear phishing but messages are even more targeted to the individual. However, with Email monitoring, these phishing techniques can be avoided.

Awareness of such attacks is increasing, but the mere fact that the average user still receives so much spam means that it must be paying off for someone. Don’t be the one who gets burned. Educate your employees on the risks.

Phishing Avoidance Tips

There are steps that can be taken to safeguard yourself against potential malfeasance. First, always pay attention to the website you are visiting. Frequently, phishers will set up a mirror site that looks exactly like the site you want to see. Always be skeptical and go to the website directly rather than clicking on any link provided in an email. Be wary of hyperlinks within emails and remember that banks will not ask for personal information via email. Installing anti-spam software from a reputable source will significantly diminish your vulnerability to attack. Finally, if something phishy does occur to anyone of your accounts, change your password and secret questions.

Scamming happens, that is a simple fact. Today I looked at multiple ways that a person could get burnt ranging from spear phishing to a money mule. In any case, the best defense is a proactive one. Pay attention to your financials, and always protect your personal information. Be cautious about any offer that seems too good to be true. Follow these steps and the job of sifting out what is potentially dangerous versus what is benign becomes much easier.

About The Author

Eric Vanderburg

Eric Vanderburg is an author, thought leader, and consultant. He serves as the Vice President of Cybersecurity at TCDI and Vice Chairman of the board at TechMin. He is best known for his insight on cybersecurity, privacy, data protection, and storage. Eric is a continual learner who has earned over 40 technology and security certifications. He has a strong desire to share technology insights with the community. Eric is the author of several books and he frequently writes articles for magazines, journals, and other publications.

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