What is Phishing?



Phishing is a form of cyberattack in which malicious actors impersonate legitimate organizations or companies with the intent to deceive individuals and obtain their personal information, such as credit card details, usernames, passwords, and more. This type of attack relies on psychological manipulation and exploits human errors, as opposed to attacks involving malware or hardware, and therefore falls under the category of social engineering.

Phishing attacks are most commonly conducted through fraudulent emails that convince users to provide their confidential information on counterfeit websites. These email messages often urge users to change their passwords or confirm credit card information, ultimately redirecting them to a fake website that closely resembles the original. The primary types of phishing include clone phishing, spear phishing, and farming.

In the world of cryptocurrencies, phishing is also widely employed, where malicious actors attempt to steal bitcoins or other digital currencies from users by posing as legitimate services. For example, this can be done by substituting a genuine website and altering the wallet address to the attacker's address, making users believe they are making payments for legitimate services when, in reality, their funds are being stolen.

Types of Phishing

There are various types of phishing attacks, typically classified based on their objectives and methods. Here are several examples:

  1. Clone Phishing: Attackers use previously sent emails that appear similar to legitimate ones, inserting links to malicious websites. They may claim it's an updated or new link to convince the victim to visit the fake site.

  2. Spear Phishing: This type of attack is directed at a specific individual or organization, often well-known to other users. The goal is to gather extensive information about the victim, including names of friends and family, to create a more convincing phishing message.

  3. Farming: Attackers compromise DNS records, redirecting users from genuine websites to fake ones. This poses a significant threat as users cannot control DNS records.

  4. Whaling: Targeting wealthy or influential individuals such as company executives or government officials.

  5. Email Spoofing: Attackers send phishing emails that impersonate messages from real companies or individuals. These may include links to malicious websites where users may unknowingly disclose confidential information.

  6. Website Redirection: Websites redirect users to other URLs designed for attacks. This can be used to install malicious software on victims' computers.

  7. Typo-Squatting: Attackers create domains with names resembling real ones, often with typos, foreign characters, or subtle variations in the top-level domain. Users may accidentally visit these sites, thinking they are legitimate.

  8. The 'Watering Hole': Attackers infect popular websites with malicious scripts to target users who visit these sites.

  9. Impersonation & Giveaways: Phishers impersonate well-known figures on social media and promote giveaways or engage in other deception. Victims may be chosen individually through social engineering tactics.

  10. Advertising: Attackers may use fake advertising to lure users to websites where they may encounter phishing attacks.

  11. Malicious Applications: Attackers create malicious applications, presenting them as useful tools, to install malware on users' devices.

  12. SMS and Voice Phishing: Attackers use text messages and voice calls to attempt to deceive users and obtain their personal information.

These various phishing techniques underscore the need for individuals to remain vigilant and employ security measures to protect against phishing attempts.

Phishing vs. Pharming

Phishing and pharming, while related, employ distinct techniques. The key distinction between them is that phishing relies on the victim making an error, whereas pharming involves the victim trying to access a legitimate website whose DNS record has been compromised by the attacker.

How to Prevent Phishing:

  1. Exercise Caution: The primary defense against phishing is to critically evaluate the emails you receive. Ask yourself whether you anticipated receiving this email and if it aligns with the sender's typical behavior. If you have doubts, it's advisable to contact the sender through an alternative means.

  2. Validate the Contents: You can attempt to input a portion of the email's content or the sender's address into a search engine to confirm if it has any association with phishing attempts.

  3. Utilize an Alternative Approach: When confronted with a suspicious request for information, consider verifying it through a different method rather than immediately clicking on the link provided in the email.

  4. Scrutinize the URL: Before clicking on any links, hover your mouse cursor over them to check whether the URL begins with HTTPS, not just HTTP. However, keep in mind that the presence of HTTPS doesn't always guarantee security. Additionally, watch out for spelling mistakes, unusual characters, and other irregularities in the URL.

  5. Protect Your Private Keys: Never share your private key for a cryptocurrency wallet with anyone. Exercise heightened vigilance when engaging in cryptocurrency transactions, as they are irreversible and not subject to dispute, unlike credit card transactions. Ensure that the product or seller you intend to send cryptocurrency to is legitimate and trustworthy.


Phishing is one of the most widely recognized and prevalent forms of cyberattacks. Despite the effectiveness of email and its filters in screening out fraudulent messages, it's crucial to maintain a high level of vigilance and adhere to security measures. Approach any requests for confidential information with extreme caution. Whenever possible, verify them through alternative means to ensure the authenticity of the sender and the request. Avoid clicking on suspicious links in messages and only visit web pages when you have no doubts about their safety. Additionally, be mindful of the presence of HTTPS at the beginning of the URL. It's essential to exercise heightened caution when engaging in cryptocurrency transactions as they are irreversible and cannot be reversed in case of issues. Above all, always keep your private keys and passwords secure and never trust them with anyone.