Types of Phishing Attacks


As the growth of the Internet as a commercial medium continues across the planet, Types of Phishing Attacks also continue to increase in number. Indeed, research into this form of cyber attack found that these Types of Phishing Attacks increased by around 40% in 2018.

Everyone from financial organizations to everyday internet browsers are being targeted and understanding the prominence of phishing attacks and the type of attacks to which you may be subjected, is therefore critically important.

So in this article, we’re going to run through all of the most common Types of Phishing Attacks  that you may encounter online.

Deceptive Phishing

This is an obvious place to start, as it is the most common type of phishing scam that one will encounter online. Deceptive Phishing involves a fraudster posing as a legitimate company, often attempting to convince unsuspecting people that they are already under attack. 

Deceptive Phishing attacks increasingly utilize familiar brands such as Amazon and PayPal. While some are rather unconvincing, attempts to fool the general population into clicking on an unsavoury link has become ever more sophisticated.

Another technique to look out for with these particular Types of Phishing Attacks are the use of threats and instilling a false sense of urgency, intended to scare users into acting rashly.

Spear Phishing

This is a slightly more sophisticated form of phishing, in which attackers use personal information in an attempt to trick victims into believing that they have a personal connection with the sender.

The goal, though, is the same as Deceptive Phishing, inducing the target into clicking on a malicious link or email attachment.

Spear Phishing relies on acquiring personal information. This should underline the importance of being vigilant when it comes to posting personal details online.

Hierarchy Fraud

The basis of this technique is attacking the more prominent individuals in an organization, under the proviso that this will garner much more benefit for the fraudsters.

The other advantage of this approach is that CEOs and other high-ranking executives, will have less time to be vigilant with emails and could be tricked more easily than regular members of staff.

Again, defending against this form of phishing attacks simply requires everyone within an organization to be equally vigilant.

CEO Fraud

In this form of phishing attack, fraudsters attempt to steal login details from one of the most prominent individuals in an organization and then distribute malicious emails.

This can be highly effective, as there is no-one that people within an organization trust more than the CEO of a company.

When responding to this form of phishing, Organizations should consider including multi-factor authentication channels within their financial authorization procedures.

This then provides an extra layer of protection, meaning that no-one within a company can authorize payments via email alone.


While email is the most common way to attack targets via phishing, there are other ways of perpetrating attacks as well. Vishing actually begins with a phone call, which can be achieved via VoIP Servers. 

Vishing attacks are becoming ever more sophisticated, with digital attacks recently launched against British Members of Parliament.

It is possible for fraudsters to masquerade as powerful and significant people when conducting this form of attack and it is absolutely essential for employees to remain vigilant at all times and not jump to any conclusions or unfounded assumptions. 


This form of phishing attack is rather similar to Vishing, except that it begins with malicious text messages. Attackers engaging in Smishing will assume a false identity in order to elicit desired responses from victims. 

In all honesty, some of the text messages sent via Smishing campaigns are hard to swallow and obviously fake. While awareness of these scams is becoming more widespread, which has certainly reduced their effectiveness.

But it is still important to remain vigilant and ensure that you do not respond inappropriately to any unsolicited text messages.


Pharming is a highly complex form of phishing, which involves converting alphabetical website names to new, seemingly legitimate IP addresses, before then redirecting users to a malicious website.

This can be trickier to pick up on, than other forms of phishing and is one strong reason why anti-phishing protection should be sought by companies in particular.

Seeking HTTPS protocol protection is also advisable in order to help protect against this form of phishing.

Malware Farming

Rather than attaching a malicious link, this form of phishing is based on injecting a malware program into an email or link, which will then download automatically to a device.

This malware software can cause all sorts of problems for victims once installed, not least that personal data and financial information can be stolen.

When attempting to deal with Malware Farming, it is essential that all machines are kept up-to-date with virus checking and firewall provisions.

It is also important that companies update all software at every opportunity. In addition to not running dated versions of applications, which could be vulnerable to attack.

Search Results Phishing

Finally, this is another nifty technique in which hackers are able to position a malicious page above an official and legitimate link, by using sophisticated SEO and SEM techniques.

What occurs with Search Results Phishing is that when a victim searches for a particular topic on the internet, a malicious site is presented as the number one entry and the unsuspecting individual then clicks on this nefarious website, completely unaware that it isn’t legitimate.

If this isn’t then blocked by anti-phishing software, it is perfectly possible that personal and confidential information could be entered on the malicious site, which could be truly disastrous.

Summary – Types of Phishing Attacks

This article covers all of the major Types of Phishing Attacks that one is likely to encounter online. But hackers are always coming up with new approaches to phishing and their resourcefulness knows no bounds.

That’s why it’s essential to always maintain safe browsing and email access techniques when online and why using anti-phishing software is certainly advisable.

Unfortunately, we are all potentially vulnerable when using the contemporary internet and none of us should take cybersecurity lightly.

Even people who are highly IT literate, have fallen prey to phishing scams. So it’s important that everyone using the internet does so with vigilance and suitable caution.

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