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The 21st century where technology has become an essential part of everyone’s life continues to facilitate citizens, government and organizations but brings a potential threat with this cyberspace.
While technologies are overwhelmingly created for positive use, they can be misused as well. As people are becoming more dependent on this technology for communication, shopping, banking, obtaining information and entertainment, the world of cybercrime is expanding sideways.
This changing world has created more opportunities for offenders to commit more cybercrimes. Cyber fraud causes great damage to a number of people all around the globe from the common man to well-established business organizations and is expanding at a noticeable rate.
It has numerous types and can be observed as a large umbrella that includes crimes that are performed through the use of a computer or network devices with the purpose of harming the data of an individual, group of people or organizations.
Forms of Cybercrime:
- Cyber-trespass that is regarding unauthorized system access.
- Cyber-deception or also known as cyber theft that is related to identity theft and online fraud, digital piracy.
- Cyber-porn/obscenity which includes child sexual exploitation materials.
- Cyber-violence, which is about cyber stalking, cyber terrorism.
Among these different types, one of the most common prevailing cybercrimes is Phishing attacks. Phishing is a type of social concocting that criminals use to steal data, infect computers, and intrude on Company networks. Mostly, common people are the ones who fall prey to these scams.
The victims can be the majority of the laypersons which is due to the fact that they lack awareness regarding the cyber frauds that prevail in their day-to-day use of networking websites. The phishing practice is executed through a psychological strategy where the attacker sends a coded link through a reputable source to steal user information.
These links might pop up on the tab one is currently using with a catchy title or with a tagline that seems appealing and attractive to the user or through an email. It is much of a psychological technique as people tend to click on these links out of curiosity or what is called FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. One of the top cyber security issues, in the pandemic world, was found to be the explosion of pandemic-themed phishing scams and a continued surge in ransomware attacks (proofread threat report, 2021).
These vulnerable links that are devised by the phishers are not only with an attractive title but are also related to something trending which seems to grab immediate attention, making it highly irresistible for the public using cyberspace.
The attacker mostly uses these apparently seeming innocent links that might compel users to click on them which ultimately leads to allowing the attacker to get hands-on sensitive data of the user causing greater and irrevocable harm most of the time. After clicking these links, a certain package is downloaded to the user’s device making the device vulnerable. Fundamentally, these disguised links act as a root source leading to multiple types of cyber frauds.
Microsoft 365 phishing:
Keeping in view the targeted group of individuals the phishers create a relevant, trendy, and appealing email or text message that seems to be genuine too. One might come across a form under fake email from Microsoft asking the user to log in and reset their password or implying the attention of the user to resolve a problem related to their account required that needs to be addressed.
This is one kind of phishing known as Microsoft 365 phishing or consent phishing through which the email sender could gain access to personal or Company’s system and steal information.
Another kind is Smishing attacks that are designed for individuals in form of an appealing package for instance a vacation package or promising a large reward.
Basically, it is through phone SMS that baits the user with a fun offer and then spreads as a virus infecting the user’s entire system. For instance, it might pop up as an offer of getting free bitcoin but actually ends up emptying the crypto wallet of the user. It should be noted how fraudsters do sometimes turn to another form of as well media to perform their attacks.
Similarly, there is another form named Vishing where a fraud phone call is used to steal private information, data or funds. It has been recognized that they use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) servers to mimic various entities to achieve their target. FBI discovered that it is the most commonly used scheme that targets remote workers in 2020.
Moreover, as we become more aware of these prevailing cybercrimes the fraudsters have also updated their cybercrime strategies. Now instead of the baiting technique, they are using Pharming i.e., through infecting a Domain Naming System (DNS) server the attacker can redirect users to a malicious website of their choice even when the user types the correct name of a site to perform attacks.
Not only are the criminals stealing individuals’ information but also are stealing at an organizational level around the globe. Through targeting at a much bigger level, the fraudsters are Whaling enterprise’s top executives where the stolen information or cash is far more valuable than what a regular employee can offer.
Need for awareness:
Cybercriminals are continuously innovating and becoming more and more sophisticated Therefore, there is a serious need to educate the public regarding these various cyber frauds. One should have the awareness in order to stay cautious and protect their data from cyber felonies. There is a greater need to have security regulators that can counter these phishing attacks else these cybercrimes keep on succeeding in deceiving and abusing the public.
Moreover, spreading awareness regarding these cybercrimes can act as strong resistance in the path of phishers as the conscious user is less liable to be the victim of psychological manipulation. Otherwise, one can face significant loss without even having the slightest idea as these kinds of links are designed to execute in the background of the system which makes them unobtrusive to be detected.
It only takes one winning phishing attack to endanger the network and breach information to steal data, which is why it is extremely important to Think before you click!
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