What is URL Phishing and How to Prevent It?
By Christine Margret 6 minutes
Keeping private information and personal data safe is truly a big challenge in this digitally dominated world. The need for Cybersecurity was never been more coveted than it is today. There are various cyber attacks that businesses face every other day.
URL phishing is also one of those cyberattacks. In this blog, I will talk mainly about URL Phishing. I will explain what is URL Phishing and how to prevent it.
You will also learn the types of URL phishing and how to identify, or survive a URL Phishing attack. Let’s dig deeper to know what exactly is URL Phishing.
What is URL Phishing?
URL Phishing is a cyber attack when cybercriminals use emails to direct their victims to enter sensitive information on a malicious, or fake website that looks legitimate.
The main aim of this type of cyber attack is to obtain your username, password, and other valuable details. Cybercriminals use phishing websites to steal these details.
You may also learn about Instagram phishing here.
What Happens If I click on a Phishing Link?
The attackers usually send a password reset or identify a confirmation link from a legitimate source. When you click on any of these links, then malware or spyware automatically starts installing into your device.
At first, you cannot identify as the website itself looks so real. However, when a cybercriminal successfully steals your username, password, and bank account information, only then do you realize the damage.
However, you don’t have to worry because I will show you some tricks to identify and prevent URL phishing in this blog.
How Do You Know If You Have Been Phished?
Scammers use URL phishing to steal your username and password. They also obtain your bank account details to fetch money from it.
Although hackers update their attacking tactics regularly, it is still possible to recognize a URL phishing attack upon noticing it closely.
Here are some tricks to identify a URL Phishing attack:
Always look for the warning signs in the message
“Your account will be closed” emails that use such language to trigger a panic reaction are always a red flag. Scammers try to push victims to click carelessly. Therefore, the first rule of thumb is to never consider when there is any urgent action required.
Always read the Sender’s Email Address
Undoubtedly, fake websites look so real that it is almost impossible for a common user to recognize them. However, the best bet is to always carefully check the sender’s email address. The sender’s address may look similar, but it always has spelling mistakes, changes in the URL structure, additional letters, or punctuation.
Look out for Emails with Generic Greetings
Malicious emails start with a generic greeting. It may contain words like Dear Customer, Dear Users, Dear Reader. Professional websites never use such email languages. Also, suspicious emails have bad grammar, therefore you must read carefully and notice the words and grammar too before clicking on them.
Authentic Webs/Companies Never Ask for Personal Information
Lastly, always bear in mind that an authentic website or business will never push you to enter credentials. Legitimate sources never request a user’s sensitive information. So, if an email is asking you for it, then it is a clear sign that it is not authentic in any way.
What Are the Types of URL Phishing?
There are five different forms of URL phishing links.
Masked links are those hyperlinks that cover legitimate links. This is also known as URL Masking. The main aim of URL masking is to disguise users to believe that they are on one domain while they are on another.
In this type of URL phishing, scammers recreate a fake link by changing or swapping characters. It looks exactly like a real and authentic link. But, in reality, it is a fake one and redirects users to a malicious website. For example Faecbook.com, instead of Facebook.com.
These links disguise users by using authentic websites like Google. Later, redirect victims to a malicious source. Therefore, it is important to always look out for the URL address.
These links appear to be authentic sites, but in the middle of a URL, it is completely an incorrect subfolder.
How to Prevent URL Phishing Attacks?
The best and easiest solution to prevent URL phishing attacks is to kill your itch of clicking on unknown links. This will be your first and safest step to avoid phishing.
However, if you still have clicked on it, then here are some preventive measures to follow.
Block Bad Emails
By using URL Filtering, you can block bad emails from accessing your inbox. Mostly, people report fraudulent email addresses, and hackers keep on using the same email address to target many people. After a user’s report, such emails are added to a list of untrusted or shady URLs. Configuring URL filtering will block access to such scam emails easily.
It is another good method to prevent phishing attempts. You should always inspect URLs. Seek assistance from Domain Reputation Websites. These websites are responsible for inspecting URLs, and websites by scanning and studying them. A newly created domain might be unsafe, so you can be aware of it by conducting the URL inspection test.
Encourage Security Awareness Training
Introducing security awareness training will be extremely helpful for you to prevent such scams. Security awareness training programs will act as the first line of defense for your sensitive systems.
Train your employees, and educate them about knowing and identifying the typical methods that hackers use to scam. Learn how URL phishing works, and also train users to report URL phishing attacks.
Implement AI-Based Protection
The deployment of AI-based software and tools will be extremely helpful to identify phony emails and websites. These tools track and block malicious URLs by scanning abnormal and irregular URL structures.
Use a VPN
You can also prevent phishing emails by connecting to a VPN. A VPN conceals your IP address with its encryption and routes your traffic with one of its safest servers. Since your IP address is encrypted, therefore, no scammer can obtain your email address and other sensitive information.
How to Report Phishing URLs
If you find any fake URLs, first inform your IT department, so that they can block them and take security measures in time. Those, who don’t have an IT department should send the email content to APWG. Also, share a copy of the fake email with the Cybersecurity & infrastructure security agency. It is a US government reporting page.
You can also report that website so that Google will block it. Lastly, if you are already a victim of phishing then fill in this form by IC3.
Now that you know everything about what is URL phishing and how to prevent it, act smart and have your eyes on it. Use all the preventive measures discussed in this blog, to ensure avoiding URL phishing. Don’t click on any suspicious or unknown links, and in case, if you suspect that a scammer has got your details, then immediately report phishing on the links given above.