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Don’t Get Caught: Understanding Cyber Security Threats

By Tom Seest

What Is Phishing and Smishing In Cyber Security?

At BestCybersecurityNews, we help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, young learners, and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.

Cyber security refers to the practice of safeguarding systems and networks that process, store or transmit sensitive data. Organizations create massive amounts of confidential and proprietary information that hackers could exploit for financial gain or malicious intent.
Email phishing is one of the most prevalent attacks employed by hackers, employing social engineering techniques to coax victims into clicking links or downloading attachments that contain malware.

What Is Phishing and Smishing In Cyber Security?

What Is Phishing and Smishing In Cyber Security?

How Can You Spot a Phishing Email?

Phishing is a form of cyber attack in which hackers attempt to get you to disclose confidential data such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers without your knowledge or consent. Once collected this data can then be used by criminals to gain entry to accounts or steal assets such as money or property from you. Phishing attacks may arrive via emails, social media platforms such as Facebook, or even phone calls; the latter usually contain malicious attachments or links leading to fake websites that appear authentic.
Attackers typically try to create an urgent environment by convincing victims that an account needs to be verified or there has been a security breach, using fake emails and logos to seem more credible in their messages. Attackers may even provide links leading to fake websites with identical appearances but host malicious malware instead.
Search engine phishing involves hackers placing spam over search engines to promote their websites and get clicked on first by users, then redirects them back to them when clicking through these links, where hackers can steal sensitive data when users log into their accounts or enter login details on these fake login forms. Furthermore, threat actors often employ email phishing links that take you directly to a counterfeit version of popular sites, such as banks and money transfer services.
Voice Phishing (vishing), also known as phone phishing, is a variation of phishing that takes place over the phone. Attackers call victims pretending to represent important companies such as banks or credit card companies and convince them to share personal information or transfer funds directly into an attacker-controlled account (usually one that’s actually controlled by them). Vishing attacks tend to be particularly successful during times of high stress such as tax season or large corporate events.
Spear phishing is an advanced form of phishing that directly targets one employee at an organization. Attackers collect information about their target employee such as job title and location within the organization before unleashing a targeted phishing attack aimed at that individual. Spear phishing can bypass security filters, fool employees into divulging confidential information, or send money directly to attackers.

How Can You Spot a Phishing Email?

How Can You Spot a Phishing Email?

What dangers does ransomware pose?

Ransomware attacks occur when hackers utilize malware to blackmail companies, organizations, and individuals, resulting in them paying extortion fees in exchange for accessing their own data. Cybercriminals typically demand large sums of money such as millions in order to unlock or restore compromised files.
Ransomware can be downloaded through various methods, including phishing emails that contain malicious links or attachments that when clicked download ransomware onto users’ computers. Some attackers also exploit vulnerabilities on websites or software programs to gain unauthorized access and install ransomware onto them.
Vulnerabilities are gaps or flaws in an application that enable malicious actors to gain entry and steal sensitive data or control of its system. According to a 2022 Unit 42 Incident Response Report, 48% of ransomware attacks began through exploited vulnerabilities.
Cybercriminals often infiltrate systems with ransomware through watering hole phishing. This technique involves malicious actors researching which websites employees frequent often and then infecting those sites with malicious downloads that contain ransomware. Once an employee visits one of these phishing sites, they could unwittingly download and spread ransomware onto their work station and other network devices.
Ransomware attacks pose a danger to companies’ data and can result in lost revenues and even human life. Teiranni Kidd filed a lawsuit against Springhill Medical Center in Alabama, alleging that their ransomware attack caused her child’s care to decrease, leading to brain injuries and eventual death.
There are ways to prevent and mitigate ransomware attacks, the key one being regularly backing up critical data. Doing this will significantly lessen its effects, as your organization can quickly roll back to a point before being attacked – potentially saving both productivity and revenue in the process.
One key step in protecting against phishing attacks is training employees on how to spot them. This should include cautioning against clicking any link or downloading any attachments received through email, instant message or text. In addition, file sharing must be disabled and access limited for shared drives as these can spread ransomware infections easily. It is also vital that firewall rules are monitored regularly while keeping antivirus and antimalware software updated.

What dangers does ransomware pose?

What dangers does ransomware pose?

How can Social Engineering deceive you?

Social engineering is a technique employed by hackers to coerce targets into taking actions or divulging sensitive data. Social engineers typically utilize emails, texts messages, phone calls or in-person interactions as methods for social engineering attacks that gain entry to computer systems such as spear phishing, smishing, ransomware or CEO fraud.
Cybercriminals conduct spear phishing attacks by researching an individual’s online activity and personal details and then using this data to pose as someone of authority, such as a company higher-up. Bad actors use messages designed to create an impression of urgency to get victims to reveal sensitive data that will allow them to bypass two-factor authentication or password recovery protocols and gain entry to company systems; or else gain financial details that they can sell online or transfer to fraudulent banks accounts.
An attackers may use manipulation tactics to convince their targets to install malware apps that enable them to monitor their activities, such as remotely accessing their computers to collect keystroke data or listen in on personal conversations. Hackers may even employ artificial intelligence techniques in order to impersonate a target’s speech patterns so their calls sound more convincing and authentic.
Social engineering cyberattacks often rely on tricking individuals into divulging passwords for personal or professional accounts so hackers can gain access to those accounts for financial gain – using this data, they can gain entry to bank accounts, make unauthorized purchases, or even take over digital identities in order to commit crimes against individuals.
Employees should be taught to recognize and avoid social engineering attacks. Email security solutions that detect malicious content and remove potentially dangerous files before an email is sent can also help protect employees from social engineering attempts. Finally, they can ensure employees don’t use the same passwords across both personal and work accounts; otherwise hackers could gain access to company accounts as well.

How can Social Engineering deceive you?

How can Social Engineering deceive you?

How Can Scammers Trick You with Smishing?

Smishing is similar to phishing in that attackers try to persuade victims into divulging personal information or downloading malware, however instead of email messages being used, attackers send text messages containing links to fraudulent websites or apps that look official such as mobile applications that require the victim to click through, leading them to sites which ask them for personal data like passwords, bank credentials or Social Security numbers before redirecting them back. Once provided by victims, attackers then have all they need for illicit activities on behalf of or profiting financially from such attacks if necessary.
Criminals rely on fear to coax their targets into taking action, which is why smishing attacks frequently include an urgent message that warns an account will be suspended or that fraudsters have purchased items with the victim’s credit card. Such messages urge their target to act quickly to avoid consequences such as money loss or job loss.
Smishing can be so successful because people often reuse their usernames and passwords across different sites and services, making it easy for a cybercriminal to obtain all the information needed with just one attack. Once stolen credentials have been used on one website, they can then be used on any others that require these credentials.
Smishing may be an increasing threat, but it is relatively easy to prevent. Employees can help safeguard themselves against it by installing call-blocking apps on their phones and refraining from sharing their work phone number on any public platforms; additionally, employees should remain suspicious of any text message from services or financial institutions that seems unwarranted or out-of-character.
Remember, smishing is an attempt at stealing sensitive data beyond banking credentials; this information could be used for fraud, identity theft and other forms of crime. Therefore, it’s critical that employees learn about phishing and smishing warning signs so they can quickly detect these attacks when they occur.

How Can Scammers Trick You with Smishing?

How Can Scammers Trick You with Smishing?

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