Types of Email Attacks

Many people rely on the Internet for many of their professional, social and personal activities. But there are also people who attempt to damage our Internet-connected computers, violate our privacy and render inoperable the Internet services.

Email is a universal service used by over a billion people worldwide. As one of the most popular services, email has become a major vulnerability to users and organizations.

Below are some of the most common types of Attacks:

  • Phishing : Phishing is a form of fraud. Cyber criminals use email, instant messaging, or other social media to try to gather information such as login credentials by masquerading as a reputable person. Phishing occurs when a malicious party sends a fraudulent email disguised as being from an authorized, trusted source. The message intent is to trick the recipient into installing malware on his or her device or into sharing personal or financial information.

    Spear phishing is a highly targeted phishing attack. While phishing and spear phishing both use emails to reach the victims, spear phishing sends customized emails to a specific person. The criminal researches the target’s interests before sending the email.

  • Vishing: Vishing is phishing using voice communication technology. Criminals can spoof calls from authorized sources using voice over IP technology. Victims may also receive a recorded message that appears authorized. Criminals want to obtain credit card numbers or other information to steal the victim’s identity. Vishing takes advantage of the fact that people trust the telephone network.
  • Smishing: Smishing is phishing using text messaging on mobile phones. Criminals impersonate a legitimate source in an attempt to gain the trust of the victim. For example, a smishing attack might send the victim a website link. When the victim visits the website, malware is installed on the mobile phone.
  • Whaling: Whaling is a phishing attack that targets high profile targets within an organization such as senior executives. Additional targets include politicians or celebrities.
  • Pharming: Pharming is the impersonation of an authorized website in an effort to deceive users into entering their credentials. Pharming misdirects users to a fake website that appears to be official. Victims then enter their personal information thinking that they connected to a legitimate site.
  • Spyware: Spyware is software that enables a criminal to obtain information about a user’s computer activities. Spyware often includes activity trackers, keystroke collection, and data capture. In an attempt to overcome security measures, spyware often modifies security settings. Spyware often bundles itself with legitimate software or with Trojan horses. Many shareware websites are full of spyware.
  • Scareware: Scareware persuades the user to take a specific action based on fear. Scareware forges pop-up windows that resemble operating system dialogue windows. These windows convey forged messages stating that the system is at risk or needs the execution of a specific program to return to normal operation. In reality, no problems exist, and if the user agrees and allows the mentioned program to execute, malware infects his or her system.
  • Adware: Adware typically displays annoying pop-ups to generate revenue for its authors. The malware may analyze user interests by tracking the websites visited. It can then send pop-up advertising relevant to those sites. Some versions of software automatically install Adware.
  • Spam: Spam (also known as junk mail) is unsolicited email. In most cases, spam is a method of advertising. However, spam can send harmful links, malware or deceptive content. The end goal is to obtain sensitive information such as a social security number or bank account information. Most spam comes from multiple computers on networks infected by a virus or worm. These compromised computers send out as much bulk email as possible.


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