Types of Phishing and How to Protect Against Them

Types of Phishing and How to Protect Against Them

Phishing is a social engineering attack where the cybercriminal poses as a legitimate organization or a trustworthy source and manipulates the victim into giving sensitive information such as passwords and financial information.
While these attacks might be hard to detect, understanding different types of phishing attacks can help us recognize and avoid these scams.

Understanding the Different Types of Phishing Attacks

Here are three ways to categorize phishing scams:


Phishing attacks can be categorized by the aim of the criminal. A usual goal for attackers is to lure the target into providing personal data and financial information. Another aim is to tempt the target to download malware.

Medium of Delivery

Phishing attacks can be executed via email, website, and phone. Of the three, email is most commonly used since it is easier to compose a carefully worded text while concealing the hacker’s identity.

Attacks via websites are more complex, especially since they often require the use of a phishing kit.

Attacks via phone are the least common since it is harder to hide the hacker’s identity and get the target to divulge sensitive information through either call or text.

Types of Target

If we categorize phishing attacks according to their targets, it includes regular phishing, spear-phishing, and whale phishing.

Regular phishing is a general attack that focuses on multiple targets. For these, the hackers pay little attention to the quality of the message and the need to hide their identity through sophisticated means.

Spear-phishing is an attack that targets a particular individual, organization, or business. The scam is often personalized to address the specific target. It is, therefore, more difficult to identify spear-phishing attacks.

Whale phishing is an attack similar to spear-phishing except that the target is often wealthy, prominent individuals.

For spear-phishing and whale phishing attacks, the hacker places significant effort to learn about the target and uses this information to construct a sophisticated message that is likely to elicit a reaction from the target.

Defending Against Phishing Attacks

Understand Social Engineering Attacks

The nature of phishing attacks and other social engineering attacks is what makes them so dangerous. These attacks exploit human behavior, which makes it challenging to discern and defend. Therefore, it is always useful to understand social engineering attacks if you want to protect yourself.

Implement Cybersecurity Measures

The security of your device and network is a significant defense against phishing attacks.

For starters, you should invest in antivirus software, which protects your device from malware and alert you when there are dangerous links.

Another useful tip is to install a VPN, which guarantees your network security and privacy by preventing hackers from spying on you and gaining your information for phishing attacks.

Additionally, you can install a password manager to guarantee your password security. Strengthening your password provides you with an extra layer of protection. A password manager can also identify disguised URLs.

The Takeaway

The most crucial step to protecting yourself against phishing attacks is to gain an understanding of the attacks. However, you should remember that the hackers are almost always a step ahead of you, and the strategies that might be working today might fail the next day. Therefore, always be educated and alerted about new risks.