What is Email Phishing?

Posted: October 11, 2023

Phishing is a pressing issue for everyone, not just businesses. The main problem is that the phishing messages keep getting more and more sophisticated and keep coming and coming until, eventually, something negative happens. In this week’s blog, we will outline some of the different characteristics and tactics used in phishing scams you can encounter.

Before we get started breaking down the types of phishing there are, let’s review what exactly phishing is.

Phishing is a Social Engineering Attack

A phishing email is a type of cyber attack designed to trick recipients into revealing sensitive information or performing actions that compromise their security. These emails typically appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank, social media site, or other trusted organization. Here's a list of some of the most common characteristics of phishing emails:

  1. Impersonation: The email may use a sender address, logo, and language that closely resembles a legitimate organization.
  2. Urgency or Fear Tactics: The message often creates a sense of urgency or fear, suggesting that there is a problem with the recipient's account that needs immediate attention.
  3. Suspicious Links or Attachments: The email may contain links to fake websites designed to steal login credentials or personal information. It might also include attachments that, when opened, install malware on the recipient’s device.
  4. Requests for Sensitive Information: The email might ask for personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers.
  5. Generic Greetings: Instead of addressing the recipient by name, the email might use generic greetings like "Dear Customer" or "Dear User."
  6. Spelling and Grammar Errors: Many phishing emails contain spelling and grammatical errors, which can be a red flag.

Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 36% of all data breaches involved phishing.

Example of a Phishing Email

Subject: Important Notice: Verify Your Account Now

Dear User,

We have detected unusual activity in your account. To ensure the security of your information, please verify your account immediately by clicking the link below:

Verify Account

Failure to verify your account within 24 hours will result in suspension of your account.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

[Bank Name] Security Team

To protect your business from phishing emails, ensure your employees are cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown or suspicious emails, that they verify the sender’s address, and avoid providing personal information in response to unsolicited requests. With Managed Security Services, your business can reap the benefits of a multi-layered security solution that includes security awareness training. To learn more about our services, reach out to us.

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