Angler Phishing: How Cybercriminals Cast Their Bait
By Janne Smith 5 minutes
May it be ancient Greeks or modern-day millennials – humans have tried to scam each other since the beginning of times. And virtual scams – evolved into what we now know as phishing – are no strange danger.
While Angler phishing sounds relatively new, it’s simply a modern-day name for social media scams that can dauntingly lead to malware and virus on your device. And it can also lead to significant financial damage if you share personal information.
With new forms of phishing appearing daily, it can be overwhelming to keep up. This article provides a guide to understanding Angler phishing and tips on how to avoid it.
What is Angler Phishing?
Angler Phishing is only a specific (read: fancy) name for social media phishing. In this, a hacker creates a bogus account – which, as a millennial, you can’t deny encountering – and disguises his identity as a helpful customer service provider.
Following that, they ask for your personal information or ask you to download malicious links. In case of downloading the link, you should expect to fall prey to a botnet. If you provide personal information, expect data leaks or unidentified financial activity.
Like other phishing attacks, the aim is to deceive a social media user and steal personal information for financial or informational incentives. Conclusively, this is a new and commonly encountered type of phishing attack than email phishing.
Where Does Angler Phishing Come From?
Remember watching Finding Nemo and disliking aquariums sitting in your dentist’s waiting area? Who knew Anglerfish from the same movie would evolve into Angler Phishing?
Similar to an Angler Fish, a hacker tries to lure victims by acting helpful and concerned for the victim. For example, the initial stage of the attack might look like this lying in your inbox. “Hello, We’re sorry for the inconvenience you saw while placing your order at xyz company; click the link below to file a dispute.”
As users seek support by reaching out to companies through their social media accounts, they unintentionally fall into the trap set by cybercriminals who impersonate the company’s identity. The criminal then persuades the customer to follow specific steps, leading them to phishing websites where fraudulent activities occur.
Moreover, as per recent Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) research, over 75% of attacks are directed toward e-commerce and financial organizations.
What Are the Common Angler Phishing Tactics?
A common tactic for Angler Phishing is creating a sense of urgency for the victim to provide quick personal details or straightaway click on a malicious link. Be careful if a “customer service agent” creates a sense of immediate pressure or urgency (such as forwarding you to a suspicious site or asking for information without context). And, this is also known as one of the most common angler phishing tactics.
These accounts also usually come with a suspicious profile photo, color scheme, number of followers, and the content they typically publish. A cursory examination of their profile may be enough to determine whether they are trustworthy.
This phishing attack will also include URLs that contain extraneous letters, numbers, or words that have no connection to the service. However, verifying the URL can aid in avoiding any mix-ups or misinterpretations.
Is Angler Phishing Effective?
With over 500 million phishing attacks reported in 2022, Angler Phishing is a type of it that has undoubtedly been successful. It works because most social media users anticipate their company’s customer service agent to contact them when they file a complaint.
The professional customer service representative often takes their time before calling the consumer. Angler phishers use this to get their victims to fall into their trap.
Another reason customers become victims of these attacks is the “human factor” of mere rage or frustration. They neglect to look for the official emblem, the “verified” tick, or service history on the profile. Even if they do, they may overlook something.
Angler phishing tactics get successful due to the victim’s lack of observance, which leads to personal information leaks. With that said, these phishing attacks have, alone, resulted in a loss of $52,089,158 million in the US alone.
How Can You Avoid an Angler Phishing Attack?
With phishing attacks rising daily, internet users should be aware of cybersecurity. Meanwhile, Social media users should take steps to prevent Angler Phishing attacks. Here’s a list of steps that you should take:
- Use a trusted VPN, like FastestVPN, to avoid these attacks. Using a VPN will keep your information secure, i.e., even if you accidentally click a malicious link, it’ll keep your device safe.
- Verify the legitimacy of a company’s social media account before engaging with them. Look for verified badges or other indicators of authenticity to protect yourself and your personal information from scams and phishing attempts. Regarding online interactions, it’s better to be safe and avoid angler phishing attacks to the best extent.
- Avoid clicking on links from untrustworthy sources. Also, never transmit important information, such as your login credentials, to anybody, including a customer service representative. Most attackers generate a sense of urgency to make you believe you have no choice but to do what they suggest.
- If you have any doubts, contact the firm immediately. It is critical to take extra measures before any damage is done. You won’t have to worry about being impolite to the agent who approached you this way.
FAQs – Angler Phishing
What are 4 types of phishing?
The 4 types of phishing are:
- Spear Phishing
- SMS Phishing
- Voice Phishing
What is whaling phishing in real-life examples?
A whaling phishing example can be a hacker disguising his identity as a company's client, requesting payment release, or asking for personal information. For example, a hacker can email the company's head or CEO as a client.
What is a baiting phishing example?
Baiting is similar to phishing; the only difference is proposing an incentive or an offer to victims. For example, it can entice the victim by offering a gift voucher or a free movie to download. Simply put, it offers something of value to the victim to encourage the user to provide information or click a link.
What is an example of phishing on Instagram?
A hacker can send you a DM while disguising himself as an official account. For example, I encourage you to click this link to receive the order you recently placed. And it'll create a sense of urgency.
From spear-phishing to pop-up phishing and email phishing, there is always something new to learn about when it comes to online scams. However, despite its tricky name, Angler phishing is one of the simplest types of phishing attacks.
While an Angler phishing attack primarily involves clicking a link that will redirect you to a malicious site, or you might download malware on your device. As a solution, using a trusted VPN, like FastestVPN, you can stay safe and bypass the angler phishing tactics.
With phishing already facing a rapid rise, stay safe by registering to FastestVPN today!
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