Many people begin to catch on to popular trends in cybercrime. Thus, cybercriminals are always developing their tactics to make their scams more successful. This makes it difficult for people to keep up with the latest strategies that hackers use to infiltrate their devices.
Nowadays, social engineering is used by cybercriminals to improve the success rate of their cybercrimes. Social engineering makes phishing scams more believable, and it is a concept that you need to be aware of if you want to keep your devices safe and secure.
If you do not educate yourself about social engineering and learn how to spot the tactics that cybercriminals use you could find yourself in trouble in the future.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a type of scam that is often used by cybercriminals to infiltrate their victim’s devices or steal their personal information. Although phishing has been around for many years, cybercriminals have had to develop their techniques to ensure that their phishing scams remain successful.
A phishing scam is when a fraudulent email is sent to the victim’s inbox. The email will contain an attachment or link. The phishing email will urge the victim to interact with the attachment or link as this is what the hacker needs in order for their scam to be successful.
Once the victim interacts with the attachment in the email it can prompt malicious software to be installed on their device. Malicious software, also known as malware, is an extremely dangerous form of software that has been designed by cybercriminals to damage your devices in one way or another.
Some of the most common forms of malware are viruses, spyware and ransomware. Oftentimes malware can be installed on your device in the background, so you may never know about it being on your device until it is too late.
On the other hand, if the victim interacts with a link in a phishing email it can take them to a fake website that has been built by the cybercriminal. The website will have a keylogger installed on it which is able to copy everything that is typed in on the web page and give it straight to the cybercriminal.
Links can sometimes also prompt malicious software to be downloaded onto your device, so even if you do not have to type anything into the webpage you are being directed to you still need to be wary of the risks involved.
How do Cybercriminals Use Social Engineering
Cybercriminals have begun to use social engineering to make their phishing scams more successful. Social engineering involves sending phishing emails by posing as a company or person that the victim knows and trusts.
An example of a trending phishing scam that uses social engineering is where a cybercriminal poses as Netflix. The victim will receive an email that they believe is from Netflix. The email will urge the victim to interact with a link by stating that they need to update their billing information or risk their account being suspended. The cybercriminal will make the email more believable by using the Netflix logo and color scheme. This will ensure that the victim believes that the email that they received is legitimate.
Clicking on the link in the email will direct the victim to a fake website that has been set up by the cybercriminal. The website will be designed to replicate the Netflix billing page to ensure that the victim does not become suspicious. However, the website will have a keylogger installed on it which is able to copy everything that is typed into the website. Thus, the cybercriminal will gain access to all of the victim’s banking information and use it to commit their crimes.
How to Avoid Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are becoming more and more frequent. It has been estimated that there are 135 million attempted phishing attacks every day. Social engineering has made it more difficult to spot phishing scams. However, there are some clear signs that you can use to identify a phishing scam.
Phishing scams often use a general greeting instead of your name. If you are subscribed to a service or website your name will be in their database. This means that they will use your name in their email greetings.
You should make a habit of checking the sender’s email address. No two emails can be the same, so most phishing scammers will need to create a unique email address that can’t be the same as the company or website they are trying to replicate.
For example, instead of Netflix they might use N3tflix, or Netfl1x. If you are unsure about an email address you can also do a quick Google search. Many people will report a phishing scam and searching email addresses will bring up forums and articles that contain the email address.
Another way that you can quickly identify a phishing email is by checking for spelling and grammatical errors. Reputable companies and websites will always proofread their emails thoroughly before sending them out to their subscribers.