What is Phishing? Types and signs of Phishing and Prevention

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a kind of trick used by criminals to gain access to the personal information of users.  It is just a scam developed and carried out with the motive of fraud. It involves creating fake communications and leading users to provide their sensitive data like login details, credit card credentials, and other information.


Making users click on fake links or download certain programs that install malware on the computer is also done via phishing. Malicious actors normally use fake emails, calls, text messages, etc. to carry out Phishing scams. In simple, it is just a way to compromise the user’s security and privacy to gain access to personal information for illegal benefit.

Types of phishing scams:

Deceptive phishing: It is one of the most common types of Phishing attacks in which the attackers send fake emails to thousands of users at once impersonating a genuine person or a legitimate company. Those emails are designed to look real and often ask users to download some attachments or click on a link.

Spear phishing: This technique is used to attack a specific target like an individual or a company. The messages are more personalized and well-researched. Threat actors put a lot of work into choosing their target and squeezing information out of them.

Whaling: This technique is even more specific and often used to lure bigger and very high-profile targets like CEOs and individuals in power positions. This method takes a lot of preparation and often ends up with attackers getting access to company servers or corporate accounts.

Smishing: It is one of the lowest levels of attacks and is usually done via text messages. The primary goal of criminals here is to make users click on fake links. You may get such text often on your phone with offers, coupons, or other useless messages with a link attached to them.

Browser Scam: It is one of the trending phishing tricks these days where you will get asked to use social media profiles to login into fake websites. When you use that method, a new window gets opened asking you to provide your login details and your information gets stolen right away.

These are only just some examples of phishing techniques used by cybercriminals. Attackers may use other similar tricks to breach your security and invade your privacy. Phishing scams can lead to very serious problems like malware intrusion, identity theft, bank fraud, and other unpleasant consequences.

Signs of a phishing attack

Unknown sender: If you get an email from an unknown person or organization with attachments and unknown links then it is probably a phishing attack.

Sense of urgency: If the language in the email is urgent or somewhat threatening like “click now”, “act now” or “your account is at risk” or similar then it is wise to stay away from such emails.

Poor spelling and grammar: Believe it or not, cyber attackers are not academically bright or put lots of work into crafting fake emails. So you might find lots of spelling and grammar mistakes in Phishing emails.

Too good to be true Offers: Free stuff or huge discounts often grabs everyone’s attention. Attackers mention exclusive offers, prizes, or deals in phishing emails to trick users into instantly clicking on a link without thinking twice.

Requests for personal information: Keep something in mind, legitimate companies are not in the habit of asking for sensitive details from users via email. So, if you are being asked to provide details like credit card numbers, login details, or passwords then it is a phishing scam.

How to avoid phishing attacks?

  • Do not open junk emails from unknown senders.
  • Check the sender’s email and the corresponding website if it seems duplicitous.
  • Do not click on any unknown links or download any attachments from spam emails.
  • Use a good antivirus and set up a firewall to protect your Network.
  • Use two-factor authentication for all your accounts to get extra security.
  • Avoid visiting sites without SSL certification or HTTPS or Pad-lock icon. Also do not enter your financial or personal details into such sites.

These are some of the tricks you can use to spot and avoid phishing attacks. You can also enable Phishing and Malware protection in browser to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals and protect your privacy.

The online world has come very far in recent years and so did cybercrime. Malicious actors often developed new tricks to scam users and steal their sensitive information which they later use to steal money from users or blackmail them. So stay vigilant and stay safe.

About the author

Robert Calvert

Robert is the Chief Security Expert and Founder of PCSafetyGeek.com website. He is a cybersecurity enthusiast who loves to research about Malware outbreaks and write about their remedies. He also like to spend time trying new software, reviewing them and sharing IT news. However he is a real coffee lover and likes to play chess in spare time (which is quite rare 😜).

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