Phishing Attacks Aren’t All The Same: 6 Common Attacks Explained

Phishing Attacks Aren’t All The Same: 6 Common Attacks Explained
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If you’ve ever felt like someone is pressuring you into revealing your personal information, you’ve likely been targeted by what’s known as phishing. In essence, it’s a tactic that fraudsters use to either trick, convince, or pressure you into doing their bidding, and it’s not uncommon for them to utilize every means of persuasion in the process.

Today, we’ll be revealing 6 common types of phishing attacks so you’ll never fall for them again:

 Deceptive phishing

As the name itself hints at, this form of phishing is all about deception and making you think you’re dealing with a legitimate organization. The fraudsters will go to great lengths to make it appear as though they’re someone you can trust (in a typical fashion, this can either be a reputable organization, one of your friends, or your superiors).

When they’re casting their dark spells, they may conjure a reason for you to comply with the request as soon as possible and cite some fake urgency. They may threaten that your account will be closed, or some other dire consequences will follow if you don’t cave in. This is a telltale sign that something’s amiss.

Spear phishing

Spear phishing is the work of cyber snipers. In other words, it’s the strategy of choice when the fraudsters have a particular target in mind. First, they learn all about that person (could also be a business or an organization), allowing them to custom-tailor their approach. They then trick their victim into getting infected with malware they’ve purchased or created just for that purpose.

For instance, a hacker may send an infected document to a company representative under the guise of presenting their catalog offerings, posing as a legitimate company. Unfortunately, many wouldn’t think twice about opening a document like this, and this is where malware finds its way through to the victim’s machine. The objective could be corporate espionage, data theft, or simply causing damage to an organization.

CEO fraud

Did your CEO or supervisor email you as of late? You’d better double-check if it really were them. You see, this is a common attempt at getting you to assign access permissions to an unauthorized third party, reveal sensitive company data, send HR information, share files others have no business seeing, etc.

To conceal their true identity, attackers often employ what’s known as email spoofing, during which they try to fake who the real sender of the email is.


Thought phishing only takes place through email? Think again. Vishing is a form of attack that’s executed via a phone conversation. First, they will try to misrepresent their identity. Then, you will be coaxed to spill the beans and give them your credit card number, login credentials, and so forth. They will try to trick you by playing the victim, fearmongering, and other forms of manipulation.

An example of this is when you receive a phone call from a large company’s tech support division. For instance, you may be warned that something is wrong with your account or one of your devices… you know the drill. Again, double-checking their identity is of crucial importance here.


Smishing is phishing that’s executed via SMS messages. Oftentimes, it shares all the traits of classical phishing we’ve discussed above. But unlike the rest of the cases, this time, the hackers are laser-targeting their efforts and focusing on trying to get your phone infected with malware.

If they’re successful, they can use it to spread malware to others, steal data, or even add it to their botnet. If they try to pressure you into installing an app, don’t assume it’s free of malware only because it’s an app. Sometimes, legitimate-looking apps are only a disguise hackers use to conceal their nefarious deeds.

Phishing Attacks Aren’t All The Same 6 Common Attacks Explained 1


This is a lesser-known variant of phishing but quite dangerous indeed. Once executed, a pharming attack aims to target a DNS server. Upon success, the victim gets redirected to a fraudulent website despite correctly typing in a URL of a legitimate one. Once there, they will either be bumping into fraudulent login forms, be prompted to install malware, or similar.

Hackers often resort to spreading malware to achieve their pharming objectives. Therefore, proper cyber hygiene is a must, which includes scanning your computer for malware regularly.

Preventative measures to combat phishing attempts

Prevention is the mother of wisdom, and the same holds for phishing attempts. Here’s what you can do to stay safe:

– Know who you’re dealing with. Whenever in doubt, double-check their identity by initiating contact with them through another channel.

– Don’t be afraid to say no (or, in this case, refusing to communicate with these fraudsters). If someone is trying to push you around, they may not have your best intentions at heart.

Install a VPN. They often come with built-in fraudulent website detection and will warn you if you’re not where you’re supposed to be. A VPN will also help secure your web traffic.

– Run antivirus checks often. Malware is everywhere, and you can get infected even if you’re tech-savvy and careful.


It’s important to keep educating yourself about cyber threats, as these are on the rise. Be sure to let your friends know what you’ve learned today so no one will have to experience what it’s like to have one’s data stolen or taken advantage of.

Bonus video: Phishing attacks – how to avoid the bait


Thank you for reading!