What do Virtually all Phishing Emails Have in Common?- You can rapidly recognise and avoid these attacks by understanding what Phishing Emails have in common.
What is phishing?
Hackers employ phishing to steal personal information through fake e-mails and websites. It’s a type of attack that employs the use of spoof email as a weapon.
The basic goal is to deceive the recipient into believing that the message is genuine. It might be made to look like a memo from a senior executive at their company. They are sometimes made to appear as if they are receiving a request from their bank. It could instruct the victim to open an attachment or click on a link.
Phishing emails, on the other hand, are distinct and may be quickly spotted by someone who is familiar with the hallmarks of this type of cyber-attack.
Phishing emails usually look to be from a real person, a trustworthy entity, or a company that the target is likely to do business with.
Phishing assaults, which date back to the 1990s, are one of the earliest hacker strategies. Despite the fact that they have been around for a long time, phishing attempts are growing more sophisticated and diabolical as technology advances.
Phishing is still one of the most widely used and exploited black-hat techniques, especially during outbreaks like SARS or COVID-19.
We’ll look at some of the remarkable similarities between numerous phishing emails in this article. We’ll take a look at a variety of phishing scams. We’ll go over the most commonly exploited vulnerabilities and how to protect your company or yourself from such security incidents.
A phishing kit is a set of software tools that make launching an attack easier for persons with little or no technical knowledge. Website building software with a basic, low/no-code graphical user interface makes up a common phishing kit (GUI).
The phishing kit includes pictures, sample scripts, and email templates that an attacker can utilise to construct legitimate communications. Phone numbers, a list of weak e-mail addresses, and software to automate the malware dissemination process are all included in certain phishing kits.
Types of phishing
The disguise is something that all phishing emails have in common. Attackers disguise their email address to make it appear as if it came from a real user. Alternatively, they develop bogus websites that appear to be authentic and trusted by the target. They employ foreign character sets to obfuscate URLs in some circumstances.
With that in mind, phishing assaults can be classified in a variety of ways. The objective of the phishing attempt, the intrusion mechanism, and other factors can all be used to classify the phishing attempt. Phishing emails generally aim for two things:
- Obtain sensitive information from the victim, like as a login and password, so that the attacker can quickly penetrate a system or account.
- Malware can be downloaded. In this situation, the attacker attempts to deceive the target into allowing malware or a local access Trojan to infiltrate their machines. For example, a phishing email could be sent to an HR official with an attachment that purports to be a resume from a job seeker. The attachments are usually.zip files or Microsoft Office documents with harmful programmes or URLs inserted in them.
Email is used in the majority of phishing assaults. In these methods, the hacker creates a phoney domain that seems like a legitimate company and then uses the mail to send a large number of generic requests to a specific target. The false substitution always includes replacing close-together characters, such as ‘n’ and ‘r’ (‘rn’), with’m’. In some circumstances, the criminals will utilise the organization’s name in the domain, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, in the hopes that it will appear in the target’s inbox as ALIBABA.
There are a number of ways to recognise a phishing email, and by the end of this essay, you should be able to do so fast. You’ll also be able to instruct others on how to spot Phishing emails.
Always check and double-check the email address of any communication that asks you to click a link or download an attachment as a general guideline.
Senior executives are the target of whaling assaults. Whaling attacks are more subtle than other types of phishing attempts, although having the same purpose.
The methodology does not use false links or malicious URLs to breach a system because it is employed on high-profile persons within an organisation.
In the recent past, there have been an increase in examples of whaling attacks on various sectors including fake tax returns. Hackers are interested in tax forms. They contain a variety of vital information, including social security numbers, residences, bank account numbers, and the full names of the targeted individuals.
Vishing and Smishing
Telephones replace emails as the principal communication mechanism when utilising vishing or smishing strategies to hack a target.
A cybercriminal sends phishing texts to a victim via text messages using a phone in smishing attacks. The message is written and fine-tuned in the same way that the email was. The goal is to persuade the victim that the message is coming from a credible or reliable source.
In a Vishing attack, the cybercriminal deceives the victim by making a phone call.
Posing as a fraud investigator is one of the most prevalent methods employed by hackers to carry out a vishing attack. The attacker may impersonate a card firm or a bank and claim to be informing the target of a hacked account.
Spear phishing is a sophisticated email-based attack tactic. This method is used to break into a specific person’s home. Cybercriminals that use these approaches to abuse their targets already have some knowledge on them, such as;
- Name and physical address
- Place of employments
- Title of job
- Specific information about duty at work
- Email address
Spear phishing was used to carry out one of the most damaging phishing assaults ever, the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. The first wave of attacks involves sending infected emails to over 1000 email addresses. During the second round of the attack, the majority of the committee members were forced to share their passwords.
Hackers now have a new attack vector thanks to social media networks. Fake URLs, tweets, cloned websites, instant chat techniques, and posts can all be used to trick individuals into downloading malware or divulging important information.
Elon Musk and Bill Gates, for example, are two of the most well-known people whose Twitter accounts have recently been utilised in spike assaults. The most recent one involved bitcoins and a message persuading targets to contribute to society.
People’s knowingly shared data can be utilised to launch highly targeted attacks. In 2016, a group of hackers used Facebook to launch a sophisticated attack. Users on Facebook received notifications that they had been mentioned in a post. This message was sent by cybercriminals. When they clicked the link, malware like a Trojan would be installed on their systems. The breach of the target’s account was the second part of the attack. They immediately accessed their Facebook account using the hacked web browser. The hackers were able to take control of many accounts, steal sensitive information, and spread the infection to the victims’ acquaintances via their accounts.
What do Virtually all Phishing Emails have in Common?
The message is sent from a public email domain
There isn’t a single reputable organisation that can send emails from a @gmail.com address. Even Google is unable to use such addresses. Most businesses, even tiny businesses, have their own domain and company accounts. When sending valid emails to clients, Google, for example, is most likely to utilise ‘@google.com’. As a result, if the sender’s domain names match, the message is most likely from a legitimate user, and the message is most likely legitimate.
You may always double-check a company’s domain name by typing it into a reputable search engine. This makes phishing emails easy to spot. Cybercriminals, on the other hand, are more advanced, necessitating greater vigilance in order to discover them.
Another essential point to remember is to look at the email address rather than just the sender.
A phishing email imitating PayPal is seen below. Most criminals may create bogus email accounts and even choose a display name that has nothing to do with the email.
This is a near-perfect phishing email. It has a professional look to it and is believable. The email has the PayPal logo at the top, making it invisible to a ‘uninformed’ recipient. However, there’s a major red flag: the sender’s address is ‘email@example.com,’ rather of having an organisation name in the domain to indicate that it came from a PayPal employee, such as (@) PayPal.
Most hackers take advantage of their victims’ inexperience, and in most situations, simply including a well-known firm name somewhere in the message is enough to fool them. The targeted individual may be satisfied just by seeing the word PayPal in the email address. Others may not be able to tell the difference between the domain name and the local component of the address in some circumstances.
They are poorly written emails with an odd writing tone
The first red signal for any email received, whether from a known or unknown source, should always be poor spelling and language. Some individuals believe that such errors are caused by an ineffective “filtering mechanism,” however hackers only use this approach on the most trusting targets. The catch is that if a person can’t pick up modest signals during the initial phases of an incursion, they won’t be able to pick up cues throughout the scammer’s endgame.
Hackers do not need to monitor inboxes or deliver customised responses while launching a phishing assault. They prefer to send thousands of carefully written communications to naïve people in order to reach a larger audience and attract more victims.
Important tip: search for grammatical faults rather than spelling ones
When creating phishing communications, hackers almost always employ a translation machine or a spellchecker. These programmes can offer you the appropriate words with near-perfect accuracy, but they don’t always put them in the right context.
Except for a few tiny grammatical faults that a normal English speaker wouldn’t make, such as “We discovered anything strange to use an application,” every word is spelled correctly. There are also several missing words in statements like “Please contact Security Communication Center,” “a hostile person may be attempting to access,” and so on.
Everyone makes typos now and then, especially when they’re in a rush; but, you should be able to thoroughly examine the error if it’s a hint of anything more serious.
There are suspicious attachments or links
Phishing emails come in a variety of formats. Scammers can also utilise phone calls, social media posts, and text messages, while this article focuses on email phishing.
Regardless of the channel or mechanism used to deliver phishing emails, they will always contain a payload. All phishing emails contain links to fake websites or infected attachments that tempt you to open them.
In this case, an infected attachment is any document that contains malware.
It’s difficult to tell what the message is about from the above image unless the receiver opens the attachment, regardless of whether the recipient expected to receive an invoice from the sender or not. When the recipient opens the mail, they will realise it is not for them, but it will be too late, as the malware will have already infected their systems.
There’s a sense of urgency, or the message calls for prompt action
Hackers are well aware that the majority of people are procrastinators. Regardless of the message’s importance, most people will choose to deal with the information later.
According to nature, the more you think about or focus on something, the more likely you are to discover something is wrong. Perhaps later in the day, you notice that the claimed organisation does not contact you at the same address, or that your coworkers did not receive the same email. Even if you don’t have a “Ahaa!” moment, reading the message again may reveal its genuine character.
These phishing scams are both sinister and dangerous because they risk the victims’ (perhaps junior employee’s) job security.
They have Oddly Generic Greetings
Phishing scammers target millions of people each day, therefore they send a large number of phishing emails. Because of the volume of work, they rely largely on phishing tools or programmes to assist them in creating phishing templates. “Dear Customer,” which implies “Your Company” or “Your Bank,” is a common salutation. Because it comes from someone who knows you better, a partner you’ve met before, or a colleague you once served with at the same workstation, this type of confidential email should include more information about you.
Educate your employees to prevent phishing
Education gives you power, and knowledge gives you freedom. Remind your employees what to watch for while handling mail or information within the company on a regular basis. This does not necessitate periodic awareness training seminars; a few strategically placed posters throughout the office can suffice.