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Phishing Attacks: What It Is, Types, How To Protect?

In this tutorial, we will learn about phishing attacks, what are phishing attacks, the types of phishing attacks, and how to protect yourself. By IncludeHelp Last updated : May 09, 2023

Introduction to Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are a prevalent and increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threat affecting millions of people worldwide. These malicious campaigns pose as reputable sources to deceive unsuspecting victims into revealing sensitive data or installing malware, such as ransomware.

In fact, 95% of attacks on business networks result from successful spear phishing. Whether you're new to the online realm or an experienced professional, it's crucial to stay informed about these cybercrimes and learn how to protect yourself effectively.

How Phishing Attacks Work?

Phishing attacks work by tricking users into giving away sensitive information, usually through email or spoofed websites, where criminals can obtain login credentials and other personal data for fraudulent activities.

1. Email Phishing

Email phishing is a pervasive form of cybercrime and one of the most common strategies utilized by criminals to deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information. Typically, these malicious emails are disguised to appear as though they have originated from reputable sources, such as banks, social media platforms, or online shopping sites.

To better understand how email phishing works in practice, consider this hypothetical scenario: You receive an unsolicited message seemingly from your favorite e-commerce site indicating that your account has been compromised due to suspicious activities.

The email appears genuine and includes a link upon which you must click in order for your account access to be restored securely.

In 2016 alone, it was reported that 30% of phishing messages were opened – up from 23% just one year prior – indicating a growing vulnerability among users worldwide who rely heavily on digital communications channels daily.

2. Spoofed Websites

Spoofed websites are one of the most common tactics used in phishing attacks. Cybercriminals create fake websites that look identical to legitimate ones, such as a bank or social media site, and send emails with links to these sites.

To avoid falling victim to spoofed websites, it's important to always verify the URL of any link before clicking on it. Check for any misspellings or unusual domain names that could indicate a fraudulent site.

Remember that even if a website looks legitimate and has an HTTPS secure connection (denoted by a padlock icon in your browser), it doesn't necessarily mean it's not a spoofed site.

How to Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks?

To protect yourself from phishing attacks, always verify the sender information, avoid clicking on suspicious links, and use two-factor authentication.

1. Verify Sender Information

Verifying the sender's information is a crucial step in protecting yourself from phishing attacks. Cybercriminals often use email to send fraudulent messages that appear to come from reputable sources such as banks, retailers or even your boss at work.

To verify the sender's information, take a closer look at the email address and domain name where it came from. Check if there are any spelling errors or inconsistencies like extra letters, numbers or symbols added.

Also, hover over any hyperlinks in the message to see if they lead to a suspicious website instead of the expected one. Remember, just because an email looks legitimate doesn't mean it is.

According to important facts outlined earlier, 75% of organizations around the world have experienced some kind of phishing attack while 80% of IT organizations report experiencing successful phishing attacks which means this form of cybercrime is not going away anytime soon.

2. Avoid Clicking on Suspicious Links

One of the most common ways phishing attacks occur is through email messages with links to malicious websites. Clicking on these links can lead to the installation of malware or ransomware, which can have devastating consequences for individuals and businesses.

To protect yourself from this type of attack, it's important to always verify the sender information in emails before clicking on any links.

Additionally, watch out for unsolicited messages that try to create a sense of urgency or fear in order to prompt you into clicking a link without thinking about it carefully first.

3. Use Two-Factor Authentication

One simple and effective way to protect yourself from phishing attacks is by using two-factor authentication. This security feature adds an extra layer of protection to your online accounts, requiring a second form of verification in addition to your password.

For example, after entering your login credentials, you may receive a code via text message or through a special app that you must enter to gain access to the account.

Many popular online platforms now offer this additional security option including social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as financial institutions such as banks and credit card companies.

What To Do If You Fall Victim To A Phishing Attack?

If you fall victim to a phishing attack, take immediate action by changing your passwords, reporting the incident and contacting your bank or credit card company; read on for more tips on how to protect yourself from cyber criminals.

1. Change Your Passwords

One of the first steps you should take if you fall victim to a phishing attack is to change all your passwords. Here are some tips to help you effectively change your passwords:

  1. Use a Strong Password: Choose a password that is easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  2. Change Your Passwords Frequently: Regularly update your passwords every month or so.
  3. Don't Reuse Passwords: Avoid using the same password over and over again for different accounts.
  4. Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Add an extra layer of security to your accounts by enabling two-factor authentication.
  5. Check for Suspicious Activity: Monitor your accounts regularly to check for any suspicious activity, such as login attempts from unknown devices or access from unfamiliar locations.

Remember that changing your passwords alone may not be enough to protect yourself from future phishing attacks, but it can certainly help reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your sensitive data.

2. Report The Incident

If you fall victim to a phishing attack, don't panic. Reporting the incident is crucial in preventing further damage. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Change your passwords: Immediately change all of your login credentials for the affected account(s). Make sure to use strong passwords that include a mix of characters, numbers, and symbols.
  2. Report the incident: Inform your IT department or system administrator about the phishing attempt, especially if it was sent from a work email address. They can help identify any potential security threats and prevent future attacks.
  3. Contact your bank or credit card company: If you suspect that your financial information has been compromised, contact your bank or credit card company immediately. They can monitor your accounts for unusual activity and prevent fraudulent charges.
  4. Delete the suspicious email: Once you've reported the incident and taken necessary steps to secure your accounts, delete the phishing email from your inbox and trash folder.

Remember that reporting phishing incidents can help authorities track down cybercriminals and prevent future attacks. Stay vigilant and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity on your accounts.

3. Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Company

If you fall victim to a phishing attack, it's essential to contact your bank or credit card company as soon as possible. This will help to stop any fraudulent activity on your account and prevent further damage. Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Call your bank or credit card company immediately: Report the incident right away to ensure that the bank or credit card company can take appropriate measures to protect you from any losses.
  2. Change your password: If you've fallen victim to a phishing attack, it's likely that your login credentials have been compromised. Change them immediately for all affected accounts.
  3. Monitor your accounts regularly: Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements for any fraudulent activity until you're confident that all is well.
  4. Consider freezing your accounts temporarily: If you think that someone else might have gained access to your accounts, consider freezing them temporarily while you sort out the issue.
  5. Be wary of future attacks: Once you've fallen victim to a phishing attack, there's a higher risk of being targeted again in the future. Stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity right away.

Remember, prompt action is critical when dealing with a phishing attack. Taking these steps quickly can help prevent any further damage and protect yourself from future attacks.

Conclusion on Phishing Attacks

In conclusion, phishing attacks are a major threat to individuals and organizations around the world. Cybercriminals use various tactics such as email scams, fraudulent communications, and social engineering to deceive people into revealing sensitive data or login credentials.

The consequences of falling victim to a phishing attack can be severe, including identity theft, financial loss, and data breaches. However, there are ways to protect yourself from these attacks by verifying sender information, avoiding suspicious links, and using two-factor authentication.

If you do fall victim to a phishing attack, it is important to act quickly by changing passwords and reporting the incident.


1. What is a phishing attack and how does it work?

A phishing attack is a type of cybercrime where attackers use fraudulent emails or websites to deceive individuals into sharing sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, or social security numbers. These attacks often appear to be from legitimate sources but are designed to steal personal data.

2. How can I protect myself from a phishing attack?

To protect yourself from phishing attacks, you should always be cautious when opening emails or clicking on links in messages from unknown sources. Be wary of any requests for personal or sensitive information and always verify the sender before responding. Additionally, make sure your computer's antivirus software is up-to-date and avoid downloading attachments unless they are verified safe.

3. What do I do if I think I have fallen victim to a phishing scam?

If you think you have fallen victim to a phishing scam, immediately change all your login credentials including password(s) associated with that account and monitor your accounts closely for any suspicious activity. To prevent future incidents - delete unrecognized email addresses/contact lists & report them as spam so they cannot contact again otherwise block their access entirely using filters available within most email providers (e.g., Gmail's "Blocked Senders" feature).

4. Can businesses be targeted by phishing attacks too?

Absolutely! In fact, business organizations are more vulnerable than individual users due to potential financial gains that hackers could receive upon gaining unauthorized access to information like bank details etcetera. Businesses must take additional measures beyond basic anti-spam/antivirus solutions because attacks today not only occur through email - popular tools include phone calls & text-messaging scams among others; therefore, comprehensive cybersecurity policies are essential for safeguarding against these risks. Dedicated training programs should also be conducted in regular intervals educating employees regarding various forms of frauds/scams being used by attackers nowadays along with best practices at workplace.

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