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What is Phishing Attack?

What is Phishing Attack?

Let us look at the topics addressed in this article:

Before going any further, have a look at this video in which our Cybersecurity specialists explain phishing attacks in detail:

What is a Phishing Attack?

Phishing is a technique used by frauds in which they disguise themselves as trustworthy entities and they gather the target’s sensitive information such as username, password, etc., Phishing is a means of obtaining personal information through the use of misleading emails and websites. Phishing attempts to persuade an email recipient that the message is something that they want, such as a request from their bank or a letter from a co-worker, and that they should click a link or download an attachment.

Phishing continues to be a common but hazardous threat to business. It is easy to do and pays big dividends for cybercriminals. Hackers take advantage of the trust factor by impersonating a trustworthy entity in order to obtain sensitive or personal information.

Common Phishing Attack Examples

Concerns about bank accounts or credit cards

A bogus communication informs the receiver that their bank account or credit card is in trouble and tries to get the details of the same. An alternative method is that communication regarding any unusual activity or suspicious charges is made. The communication could simply ask the user to verify their account activity. The user could be taken to a bogus website and prompted to input their credentials, which could be used to hack the account.

Messages about tax concerns during tax season

During tax season, scammers send messages about tax issues. Providing a false URL to obtain your W-2s or other tax forms is a popular tactic. Requesting a copy of your W-2 form or payment summary is another option. If a scammer gets a hold of your tax form, it gives them all the information that they need to steal your identity.

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Types of Phishing Attacks

Types of Phishing attack

Deceptive phishing

Sending a false email en masse with a call to action that requires the receiver to click on a link is known as deceptive phishing.

DNS-based phishing

Phishing that compromises the integrity of the domain name look-up process is known as DNS-based phishing.The following are examples of DNS-based phishing:

  • Filing of poisoning reports by hosts
  • Contaminating the DNS cache of the user
  • Compromising the proxy server

Content-injection phishing

Injecting malicious content into a legitimate site is known as content-injection phishing. The following are the three primary types of content-injection phishing:

Hackers can compromise a server through a security vulnerability and replace or augment legitimate content with malicious content.

A cross-site scripting vulnerability can allow malicious content to be injected into a website.

An SQL injection vulnerability can be used to practice malicious actions on a website.


This type of phishing is a variation of email-based phishing scams. As users grow more overwhelmed by constant emails and more suspicious of spam, text messages have become a more attractive attack vector, exploiting the more intimate relationship that people have with their phones. Thus, hackers, these days, are more likely to adopt smishing.

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Spear phishing

Spear phishing is a social engineering technique. It is a personalized phishing attack that targets a specific person, organization, or business. Cybercriminals using spear-phishing intend to steal secret information about an organization, such as login credentials, or install malware in the organization.


In this type of phishing, attackers target senior executives of a company or other high-profile targets. The primary purpose of attackers is to convince a victim to transfer a huge amount of money or divulge some sensitive information.


Vishing, also known as voice phishing involves a malicious caller who pretends to fake identities such as being tech support, government agent, etc and extracts personal information such as bank or credit card details. This is one of the most prevalent types of phishing and it often happens, end-up fooling many people every day.

Man-in-the-Middle attack

This type of phishing attack involves an intruder between two parties. This third person or attacker closely monitors all the transactions between the two parties and eavesdrops on everything. These attacks are often carried out by creating public WiFi networks at coffee shops, shopping malls, and other public locations. After getting joined to the network, the middle man steals information or pushes malware onto devices of other parties involved. 

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Phishing Tools

Some of the Phishing tools are discussed below:


It is a highly effective social engineering tool that can be used to gather user credentials and other useful information. This modern phishing tool offers some of the most advanced phishing capabilities and multiple tunneling services. 


GoPhish is an easy-to-use phishing tool that can be used to stimulate engagements and help train employees. It can be easily run on Linux, macOS, and Windows desktops. This tool is specially designed for businesses and penetration testers. Apart from setting up phishing engagements, GoPhish can also be used to create and monitor phishing campaigns, landing pages, sending profiles, and many more. 


It is a powerful open-source phishing tool that is popularly used to attack targets. It is an easy-to-use tool that offers phishing template webpages for 18 popular sites such as Instagram, Google, Facebook, etc. In addition to this, the SellPhish tool allows you to create customized templates. With the help of this tool, an attacker can extract crucial information such as IDs and passwords. 


BlackEye is a LAN phishing tool that can clone more than 30 networks such as Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Shopify, Snapchat, and several other big websites templates to generate phishing pages. It also provides a custom template option to generate a custom phishing page 

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evilginx2 is a man-in-the-middle framework that is used for phishing login credentials. It also steals information about login cookies, which in turn allows bypassing the 2-factor authentication protection. This phishing tool is a successor to evilginx, released in 2017, which used a custom version of the Nginx HTTP server to provide man-in-the-middle functionality to act as a proxy between a browser and a phished website. The present version provides easy to set up and use capabilities. 

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Phishing Techniques

Phishing attack techniques

Website spoofing

Website spoofing is the act of building a website as a fake to deceive readers into thinking it was developed by a different person or organization. Typically, the spoof website will mimic the target website’s look and may even use the same URL.

An attacker can create a shadow copy on the internet by capturing all of the victim’s traffic in a more sophisticated assault. Cross-site scripting (XSS) takes this assault a step further by exploiting the weaknesses in the domain name itself, allowing the attacker to present the actual website, including legitimate URL, security certificates, and so on, while discreetly stealing the users’ credentials.

Email spoofing

An email phishing attack refers to the forgery of an email header so that the message appears to have originated from somewhere other than the actual source. The goal of email spoofing is to get recipients to open and even respond to a solicitation

Many email spoofs are easy to spot with impersonal greetings, misspelled URLs, or fear-inducing messages. But convincing and malicious varieties of email spoofing can cause serious problems if they effectively trick a recipient.

Unintentional redirects

Attackers can employ “redirects” to have a user’s browser interact with an unanticipated site. Malicious redirects generally involve a website that the intended user visits regularly and willingly, but then the redirect happens to an unwanted website without the consent of the user. An attacker can do this by infecting a website with a redirection code or by finding a fault in the victim’s website that allows for a forcible redirect for using maliciously tailored URLs.

Also read: Difference Between Phishing and Spoofing

Phishing Prevention

Customers and organizations should both take precautions to avoid phishing attacks.

  • Customers must be tenacious and cautious. Minor errors in a malicious email can reveal the sender’s genuine identity. It could be grammatical errors or a change in a domain name. Users must not click on random messages without first looking at the source.
  • Organizations should take precautions to avoid phishing scams. Two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA, is the most practical solution for thwarting phishing attempts since it adds an extra layer of authentication and verification when connecting to approved software or applications. With each log-in attempt, the most prevalent 2FA systems prevent phishing attacks by generating a new one-time code. 
    The code is linked to the user’s account and produced by a token, smartphone, or text message provided to the user. The most modern and secure type of 2FA sends an approval notification via a mobile app.
  • Enforcing secure practices, such as not clicking on external email links and educational efforts, can help to reduce the threat of phishing attempts.

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Hackers are becoming more sophisticated as technology progresses, aiming to thwart protection and carry out more attacks. Hackers’ primary goal is to persuade victims to provide a large sum of money or reveal some sensitive information. Many email spoofs are simple to recognize with impersonal greetings, incorrect URLs, or fear-inducing messages, but the purpose of email spoofing is to convince recipients to open and even reply to a solicitation.

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About the Author

Technical Lead - AWS Solutions Architect

Shivanshu is a Technical Lead and AWS Solutions Architect passionate about utilizing Cloud technology to empower businesses. Proficient in AWS, Terraform, and GCP, he crafts innovative solutions to propel companies forward. As an enthusiastic writer, he shares his expertise to inspire others in this field.