7 Phishing Terms Every Marketer Should Know

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Phishing is a common way to commit fraud on people using false representation or other dubious means. Mostly, phishing involves either duping private individuals or professionals representing businesses into divulging their personal credentials. These can be anything from their banking details or their login details to company servers or ERPs. 

Otherwise, phishing scams may require users to download software or other apps that infect their devices and compromises their personal information. While we all understand how this works, what is most important to know is how exactly phishers may try to target your personal account or business’ digital infrastructure.

Here are 7 essentials for maintaining your marketing campaign’s cyber-integrity in 2023:

7 Phishing Tactics You Must Know in 2023

1. Email Phishing

Email phishing is one of the most common tactics when it comes to any kind of internet scam. The most common way of doing this is to send a fake email representing some authority, like your banking institution or government agency. This email will tell you to follow certain procedures to retrieve your account or otherwise fulfil some requirements that will expose your personal details. Since marketers get a lot of emails, they are very likely to not see it when they get a phishing scam email. 

The best way to avoid a phishing scam email is to know what it looks like. The most common format will have you look at an email suggesting you need to take immediate action to save your bank account or avail of some limited time offer and then offer a link. As a marketer, you may find some emails coming in offering collaboration opportunities via link. These are suspicious at best and should be verified via phone with the concerned parties.

2. Whaling

Whaling is one of the most prevalent ways of phishing for access in large organizations. Mostly, the phisher uses an email in the name of a CEO or a high-level executive to convince lower-level employees to forward some crucial data to an external email ID. They may also ask for a credential reset so they can gain access to the server network hosting the company’s devices. Whaling has become more popular in recent years because of the sheer weight of a board executive-tier person ordering employees. This often makes the employees overlook their standard email checking protocols and simply forward the data asked for because they fear getting reprimanded by their higher-ups. 

The best way to spot a whaling email is to establish a clear understanding of what they look like through examples. Employees should also have a clear verification protocol on all essential data and access parameters from relevant authorities within the organization. In the absence of immediate superiors and an urgent request, the employees can simply have the authority to shelf or stall an email until the verification is completed.

3. Spear Phishing 

Spear phishing is a more recent tactic that involves targeting specific individuals in any family or organization to gain their personal information. Again the goal is to get access to the entire network of the person concerned whether it is their home Wi-Fi or a business’ office IT infrastructure. The idea here is that by focusing on specific individuals in any group, the chances of getting their info are much higher. Since specific persons are being targeted by email, tailoring the language to be more convincing is easier. This gives the scammer a higher chance of securing the victim’s credentials. 

Spear phishing can take on many forms and one of them is CEO email fraud as we have detailed above. There are other forms as well for example using a government body’s chairperson’s name to ask for donations. This may be done during times of crisis when a lot of organizations are asking for funds for natural disaster or warzone relief efforts.

The recent Ukraine conflict is an example and cybersecurity teams have noted certain email phishing groups targeting internet users in the names of charities working in war-affected areas.

4. Search Engine Phishing

Search Engine phishing has become a common tactic these days and involves using lucrative online shopping offers to lure users in. Once they want to avail the showcased deals, the scammers will route them to a fake webpage made to look like the page of that company. An example is Amazon or Etsy, and this page will look just like the ones that are found on the official company website. From here, the scammer can steal all their credential data and then use it to make purchases from the e-commerce website. 

Search Engine phishing allows scammers to easily rope in potential victims without needing to penetrate their email accounts or other such personal domains. All they need to do is put out an attractive advertisement and wait for an unsuspecting person to come in. After they have extracted the person’s data, they can also package it into a repository and use it later. Alternatively, they can sell the data on the dark web to other scammers as well.

5. Ransomware

Phishing via malware is arguably the most difficult way to commit fraud, but also one of the most effective and hard to detect. The reason for this is simple – most digital device users do not really know how their device works. So, even if they do get malware on their device, their native antivirus is their best bet against it. In particular, ransomware-type malware locks users out of their own devices by encrypting the data. If they want to free the data, then they must pay a certain sum to a crypto account following which the ransomware owner will release the decryption key. 

For the most part, phishers use specific hard-to-detect malware types. These may also latch onto crucial files which makes them undeletable.  This means the scammer is free to extract whatever user data they like until the malware is removed. Further, the sheer number of malware out there makes detecting all of them quite difficult. While companies are often hardest hit by a ransomware attack, individuals may also fall prey to ransomware. When scammers attack a larger network, they may indirectly compromise individual accounts anyway. However, they can also target individual accounts and extract their critical data to remain discreet.

6. Business Email Compromise

Business email compromise is a host of data and credential theft-related activities that can compromise the email domain and crucial enterprise data of any business. This is possible in several ways including domain spoofing, invoice fraud and other related activities. In all such scenarios, the company bears a heavy liability not just from the loss of data but also from the loss of reputation. Scammers usually try to compromise an entire system’s network by gaining access at key levels, so they can proliferate further and commit other types of fraud from there. 

Business Email Compromise are usually perpetrated in a long chain where the company usually receives a number of emails. These usually require a number of conditions fulfilled and are from some kind of authority either within the company or outside of it like a regulatory board. The scammer uses the same idea as whaling to gain access by impersonating authority and compromise the email network.

7. Session Hijacking

Every time you login to any online service portal, you leave behind crucial information which may be used against you. Most companies will use online cookies to store critical data linked to your account. When the link you are using to access this service does not include a secure socket layer or SSL certification, you are at risk of exposing yourself. Unsecured links can expose your online activity to anybody snooping through your IP or any other means. This is called session hijacking, where a hacker can take over your online activity. The best way to avoid this is to simply use a secured link with the HTTP format and an SSL certificate identified by the green lock symbol to the left of your HTTPS URL.

How Should You Cover Your Marketing Activities from Phishing Frauds?

Phishing frauds are not only a great way for scammers to compromise your ongoing campaigns but also get into your business’ larger IT network. This is not just a primary threat to your business prospects but also to your business’ reputation. If you are a growing business in a competitive industry like e-commerce then getting the right security to prevent session hijacking and secure financial transacting is vital for ensuring customers feel safe buying from you.

For other marketers, ransomware and spear-phishing including whaling pose an ongoing threat. Covering against these is a matter of ensuring you follow crucial safety protocols and upgrading your software regularly. You can also opt for dedicated security training and solutions from us at HumanFirewall.

HumanFirewall offers both training and real-time protection to help you identify, address, and remediate cyber threats instantly. With this platform, you can rest assured that your organization is prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Our platform not only provides comprehensive security training to your employees but also acts as a real-time defense system to neutralize any cyber-attacks. With just one click, you can remediate real attacks organization-wide, safeguarding your data and minimizing the impact of cyber threats on your business.

Request a demo of HumanFirewall today and discover how our platform can help protect your organization against the ever-evolving threat landscape.