Increased dependence on the internet over the years for essential activities such as monetary transactions, conducting important business meets, etc., has made life simpler. However, they have also led to an increase in fraudulent online activities such as phishing.
When hackers try to obtain sensitive information such as banking credentials, credit card information, passwords, etc. from individuals online by impersonating as legitimate organisations, it is known as a phishing-related attack. The means used often include emails, advertisement, malicious links, text messages, and the likes sent to users.
Activities like fraudsters posing as leading financial institutions can send a text message asking users to update their credit card information by visiting the embedded link suitably establish the phishing meaning.
Types of phishing-related frauds
Some types of phishing attack techniques that are commonly used by hackers are –
- Via standard emails
In this case, fraudsters try to steal sensitive information by sending emails to users from authentic-looking websites and organisations asking them to update account details or login credentials.
These emails can also sometimes carry a malicious link or attachment. On clicking or downloading the attachment, malware or virus gets installed on one’s computer or device via which cybercriminals can gain access to the user’s data.
Consequently, besides enabling spam filter, one can also consider opting for insurance plans that provide coverage against online frauds. One instance of such plans is Wallet Care provided by Bajaj Finserv under its Pocket Insurance & Subscriptions. The insurance plan offers benefits such as round-the-clock card blocking service as well as complimentary coverage against fraud protection.
- Spear phishing
Generally, standard emails under this online fraud category are sent collectively to many unsuspecting individuals at a go. However, sometimes some phishing-related attacks can be targeted towards specific individuals such as business executives, top-level bank or government employees, public personas, etc. to steal sensitive information. It is known as spear phishing. In this case, hackers already carry some details regarding the victim such as his/her name, email ID, employment details, etc., and obtain others to defraud the person.
- Search engine phishing
In this type, hackers create false websites designed to look like a legitimate organisation’s site. Any personal information entered in these types of websites will be collected by cybercriminals and used for identity cloning and such other preparations.
- Vishing and smishing
In the case of vishing, the hacker posing as a customer service agent from a financial institution or credit card company aims to extract personal information from an individual.
On the other hand, smishing refers to activities where hackers send malicious links via SMSs to smartphone users. These text messages can be in the form of prize-winning notifications, fake SMS posing as originating from financial institutions and credit card companies, political texts, and the likes.
To avoid falling prey to such invitations, one should always verify the source of the text or the caller’s identity in the case of phone calls. Apart from that, they can also opt for a fraudulent charges cover under which financial aid is available in case of unauthorised transactions.
Fraudsters use online advertisements to circulate malware and steal information from unsuspecting victims. They buy ad spaces on authentic websites where they publish advertisements containing malicious codes. On clicking such ads, malicious software may get installed, resulting in a loss of data.
Besides knowing what is phishing, one should also gain an idea about the preventive measures to avoid falling victim to a phishing scam. These include –
- Before clicking on any unknown link, one should always check the address of the website. Also, watch out for shortened links which do not display the full name of the website. Additionally, before conducting any financial transaction, make sure that it is a secure website.
- Make sure to install proper anti-virus software on all your devices to prevent malware and virus attacks. One should also update the anti-virus software to improve its effectiveness.
- Avoid giving out your financial details or any other sensitive information online or to any individual without verifying with your financial institution or credit card company first. It is crucial since banks generally do not ask for customer account information via phone, email, or SMS.
Apart from these measures, one can also consider opting for identity assure, an insurance policy under which one can avail financial aid for costs incurred due to identity theft and phishing.